Reimagining National Regulatory Approaches to Third Party Liability Insurance: Towards a Single Aggregated Policy

Catapult Author: Edmond Boulle

Edmond Boulle, Reimagining National Regulatory Approaches to Third Party Liability Insurance: Towards a Single Aggregated Policy, Proceedings of 59th Colloquium on the Law of Outer Space, International Institute of Space Law (IISL), Eleven International Publishers, 2017, 447 – 462. Available from: https://www.elevenpub.com/law/catalogus/proceedings-of-the-international-institute-of-space-law-2016-1-2017#

Abstract

Extensive liability exposure for launching States in international space law has resulted in a number of States promulgating indemnity and third party liability (TPL) insurance requirements as part of the authorisation procedure under national law. Though the detailed requirements vary across national laws, a common approach is discernible: The risk to the State posed by each new activity, and consequently the level of TPL insurance cover the prospective licensee must obtain (where applicable to the activity in question for which authorisation is sought) is determined by the regulator on a case-by-case basis. This paper examines some of the potential drawbacks of this ‘individualized’ approach, focusing on the potential inadequacy or absence of insurance in some cases, and the stifling effect that policy premium rates may have on innovation and enterprise. Noting that States are free to choose a regulatory regime that best promotes national space activities and provides adequate protection for national treasuries, this paper turns to consider one possible variant approach to TPL insurance. Under an ‘aggregated’ approach the State itself would become the policyholder for a single TPL insurance policy covering all space objects for which it is potentially liable as a launching State, charging the premium on the policy to the private entities creating the risk. Inspired by insurance products for fleets of vehicles, an aggregated approach would reduce costs to all stakeholders by consolidating multiple policies, whilst providing a broader scope of coverage for the launching State in respect of ‘all space objects’. In addition, it could enhance the ability of regulators to promote the exploitation of space through emerging technologies, without requiring sacrifices in terms of the insurance protection available to the launching State. Direct beneficiaries of the aggregated approach would include established companies and new entrants seeking to deploy low-cost satellite platforms into constellation architectures.

Keywords: Space law, national space regulation, insurance, third party liability

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