What Marine Insurance Companies Don’t Want You To Know

jvd dad and stacy-1

This is a long post, but I promise it contains some very important information that you probably didn’t know…

Let me begin with a little history. When we first purchased our boat back in 2013, we didn’t have a clue about what kind of insurance we needed, just that we needed it. We were not sailors. Peter and I both had over 10 years of boating experience, but not on the kind that had masts and keels jetting conspicuously straight up and straight down from the hull. Countless mishaps and horror stories were shared with us by each person we encountered, engraining the fear into us that we needed insurance, whatever the cost.

“You haven’t really sailed in Florida waters unless you’ve run aground at least once!” they would say…

You may be wondering, “do you really need insurance?” It’s a very personal choice. If you’re like us and just sold everything you own to sail away on a boat, then you’re probably leaning towards Hell Yes!  My go-to source of information over at CommuterCruiser.com has some excellent information about deciding on if you need insurance, and what types of insurance to consider. Everyone’s circumstances are different and the value of your boat may not be worth the annual premiums in the end. On the other hand, if you live on your boat in the Hurricane Belt, especially during hurricane season, it’s a pretty important investment. For those that do opt to get insurance, there are quite a few wrinkles to iron out first.

If you’ve ever tried to get insurance on a boat or a car for the first time, you know that pretty much no company wants to cover you. If you find a company that will actually give you a quote, they tack on an astronomical premium and require a bunch of other ‘stuff” to make it even more difficult for you to bind coverage. Since our boat is 35 years old, it made it even harder to find a company that would insure an ‘older’ boat. Some of the highly recommended companies wouldn’t offer us quotes at all simply due to the age of the boat.

I’m normally the one that takes care of all the paperwork but Peter wanted to take care of the research for our first insurance policy on the boat. Being as charismatic and handsome as he is, I don’t think he’s ever received this kind of rejection before! Albeit deflated, he found a policy with IMIS insured by Concept Special Risks that quoted us at about $3,000 for an annual premium. It was really our only option at the time. We had to have a licensed Captain be listed as an operator on our policy and that Captain had to sign a statement saying that Peter was capable of single-handing the boat.

Luckily, we knew just the guy to help us out. We hired Tom Crow (out of Burnt Store Marina on the West Coast of Florida) to come out sailing with us and we showed him we could safely operate the boat. Thanks Tom!! Granted, we were in the protected waters of Charlotte Harbor, but this was a piece of cake, we thought. Tom recommended we hang back for about a year (really?!)  to gain some experience on inland waters, but we had other plans…

After coughing up $3k for a policy we really didn’t understand, we set off on the beginning of our journey. In order to be covered, we thought we had to be below 12 degrees 40′ north latitude during hurricane season so we booked it through the Bahamas, DR, Virgin Islands and all the way down the Eastern Caribbean, barely scraping the surface of all the amazing places we wanted to visit. We arrived in Grenada for our first hurricane season sometime in June last year. August rolled around and we didn’t get new quotes in time to try to reduce our premium, but instead automatically renewed for something like $2,800. Again, we forked out the cash without fully understanding our policy. I tried reading the contract, but it just really didn’t make sense. Who really understands these contracts anyway?

This year, I decided to do my homework early and find some better quotes. I put feelers out in the many sailing groups on Facebook and started getting a few new agency names to contact. I also started researching some of the technical mumbo-jumbo that was in my first two policies in an attempt to actually understand what we are paying for.

While scouring the forums and Facebook comments about the topic at hand, I quickly learned I should be cautious of companies offering the lowest premium. As the old saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true…” I even felt a little embarrassed to learn that there are some companies that are known for doing everything they can to NOT pay out on a claim. On the other hand, there are some companies with excellent reputations for swift claim handling and fair payouts. Needless to say, that amazingly low quote I found turned out to be from a company that was notorious for not paying on claims.

This wasn’t all I learned…

 

WHAT MARINE INSURANCE COMPANIES DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW 

In my research I happened to notice one gentleman who’s comment really stuck out to me. He said, “Be sure to ask if your policy has Consequential Damage. Consequent-what?! He mentioned busted through-hulls and sinking so I figured it was pretty important. Google led me to an article from BoatUS called Five Questions To Ask Your Boat’s Insurance Agent. It was written in 2011 but contains some very interesting things to consider.

After reading this article and getting down to business with some of the insurance agents I had received quotes from, here is what I learned about what Marine Insurance Companies Don’t Want You To Know :

Consequential Damage:

Catastrophic losses that include fire, explosion, sinking, demasting, collision or stranding are considered a “consequence.” For example, when your boat sinks due to a rusted, through-hull fitting breaking off, the sinking is a consequence of the broken thru-hull. This is a serious concern for older boats (like ours) where nearly every single part on the boat, down to every last hose clamp, has probably been replaced already or needs to be replaced soon.

According to marine survey firms, leaks at through-hulls are estimated to be the cause in 18 percent of sinkings while under way. The numbers are worse at the dock, where failures of fittings below the waterline account for a full 50 percent of sinkings.”

If a loss is caused by a clear-cut lack of maintenance, the company can deny a claim.  This is specifically referring to a total disregard of any type of maintenance such as leaving a boat unattended for months on end with bilge pumps not working due to dead batteries, or electrical wiring that is a clear fire hazard, or a boat anyone could look at and say “this is an accident waiting to happen”. The best thing to do is be extremely diligent and responsible with your regular maintenance and keep organized records. A reputable company that covers Consequential Damage will not try and deny a valid claim as they can be sued for bad faith.

The policy wording may not specifically say consequential damage is covered, but the exclusions would therein not list fire, explosion, sinking, demasting, collision or stranding, grounding, lightening strike or hurricane damage in an “All Risk” policy. If a policy does not cover Consequential Damage, it would specifically exclude this type of loss. If ever you are unsure, ask your insurance agent!! It’s their job to explain this type of stuff much better than I ever can. I can almost guarantee they won’t tell you about this item though, unless you ask. Our last two policies with IMIS/Concept did NOT include Consequential Damage and we didn’t have the foggiest idea it even existed.

Ask For Discounts:

Some insurance companies offer discounts for endorsements such as Boater’s Safety Courses, Captain’s licenses, and other US Coastguard approved courses completed. Most will offer incentives for applicants with 10+ years of boating experience and zero losses. If you don’t ask about discounts, no one is going to offer them to you.

It’s also usually cheaper to pay your premium from your checking account instead of paying by credit card. Someone is stuck with the credit card fee in every transaction, whether its you or the business you are paying. If you prefer to pay by credit card, find out if you will be charged an additional fee.

Variations in Coverage Values:

During the process of obtaining quotes from various companies, I noticed that some of them quoted me twice. Once for just a little above the value of our boat, and once for just a little lower. The premium difference was substantial with all other coverages the same. Why? I don’t know. But it’s worth asking your agent to play around with the insured value of your boat.

If you don’t receive the exact coverages you want, ask for them to be re-quoted. Some agencies quoted me with their standard $5,000 medical coverage but it didn’t cost that much more to increase it to $10,000. Some quotes included towing for no cost, some didn’t include it unless you asked about it. Same goes for Uninsured Boaters. If this is a coverage you want in your policy, make sure it specifically says it in the quote.

The agent you are working with should help you build a policy that suits your individual needs and wants. If you’re not happy with a particular coverage, talk to your agent. If you received a better quote from a different company, ask if they can match the quote. It doesn’t hurt to ask!!!

Pay attention to your deductibles also. Usually, named storms require your deductible to be doubled. This is typical, but if your hull deductible is already high, damage to your boat during a named storm might cost you more than you think. In our case, the highest chance of damage occurring to our boat is during a named storm, so this deductible is particularly important.

Just remember, if it’s not listed on your quote, it won’t end up on your Certificate of Insurance, and it won’t be covered. Cross those t’s and dot those i’s!!

Actual Cash Value vs. Agreed Value (copied verbatim from here):

When comparing physical damage coverage, the most significant difference that can be found among boat or yacht insurance policies is whether the coverage is based upon “agreed value” or “actual cash value”  (ACV) loss settlement. Agreed value policies normally pay the amount shown on the policy if the boat is considered to be a total loss.  Under such a policy, damage resulting from a partial loss is generally paid for on a replacement cost (new for old) basis, less your deductible; that is, physical depreciation will not be factored into determining the value of the lost or damaged items. However, some items that are subject to higher amounts of normal wear and tear, such as canvas, sails, trailers and some machinery, may be subject to allowance for depreciation in the event of a covered loss.

An actual cash value policy provides less coverage than an agreed policy, but generally at a lower cost.  An ACV policy provides coverage up to the current market value of the vessel in the event of a total loss, taking into account depreciation and the condition of the boat at the time of the loss.  Payments made for partial losses are usually reduced based upon physical depreciation of the lost or damaged items, and the policy deductible is also applied.

Claim Handling:

As I mentioned above, I was a little embarrassed to learn that there are some companies that are known for doing everything they can to not pay out on a claim. On the other hand, there are some companies with excellent reputations for swift claim handling and fair payouts. Needless to say, that amazingly low quote I found turned out to be from a company that was notorious for not paying on claims.

An insurance company’s reputation for claim handling can really only be measured by talking to other policy holders with claim filing experience. Of course every situation is unique, but generally speaking, some companies are just plain better to work with than others.

Individual insurance companies are backed by larger umbrella-type insurance companies such as Lloyds of London. It’s important to find out who your policy is insured by, and who they are backed by in the event that they cannot pay out on your claim. Smaller companies may have cheaper annual premiums, but they may not have the financial ability to actually pay out on a large claim.

Inside The Box:

For the most part, we had no issues with IMIS (other than the somewhat-expensive premiums and high deductibles). Al Golden and his team have literally the best reputation I could find in my research, and they have an excellent reputation for claim handling and fast payouts; another reason we went with them in the first place. What frustrated me was that for the two years we were covered through IMIS, we didn’t know that they actually covered us ‘Inside The Box’. I’m still not clear if our premium would have gone up, or if our deductible would have been higher, but the fact is, I didn’t even know it was an option.

What is ‘The Box’?  Most insurance companies won’t insure you if your boat will be within the Caribbean geographical box of  23.5 degrees North (Tropic of Cancer, Florida Keys) down to 12.4 degrees North latitude (Grenadines) and from 55 to 87 degrees West in effect between June 1 and November 1.

I chalk this one up to the fact that I never took the time to ask the question the right way to get a clear answer. I’m not blaming IMIS for not giving me a clear understanding of my options for coverage with corresponding price differences, but I am kicking myself for not taking the time to ask in the first place. We assumed we were not covered inside the box and therefore declared on our application that we would be south of 12.4 degrees North during the specified Hurricane Season. It’s not a bad thing, but we did a lot of rushing our schedule to get outside the box to make sure we’d be covered by our insurance.

Come to find out, there are more companies than I thought that will cover you inside the box for no additional cost. It’s very important to specify on your policy whether you might be in this box or not, even if you’re not sure, and find out what the price difference is, if any. Insurance companies can deny your claim if you don’t have the true navigational limits of your vessel declared on your policy before an incident takes place.

Liveaboard Coverage:

Again, it really pays to ask the right questions. Some companies charge extra for liveaboards, some don’t charge anything, and some simply don’t allow it. If you don’t specify this on your policy or falsely declare your true status, the company may deny any claims that arise on your behalf later on.

When we first bought our boat we were told by many people that “whatever you do, do NOT say you are liveaboards!!” Well that was terrible advice! We didn’t fully understand the nature of the issue and obviously neither did they. It makes way more sense to be honest about your liveaboard status and make sure it’s covered by your insurance. Anyone who reads this blog can find out in about 2.5 seconds that we live aboard full time. Why would we ever try to hide this from our insurance company, especially if they may deny a claim from us should we ever need to file one?!

In the end, it comes down to doing your own homework and not just listening to the guy on the boat next to you. He may not know what he’s doing either ;)

 

THE BIG DECISION 

After factoring in all this new information, I had to really see it all on paper in front of me. I drew out a quick chart by hand and began listing all the differences in coverage provided by the various quotes I received and narrowed them down to my top 5 choices. (Click on the photo below to see the quote details I received after narrowing it down to my top five choices.)

Insurance Quotes 2015

Since I was now getting intimately familiar with all this insurance mumbo-jumbo, I decided to delve a little deeper with IMIS and ask about their renowned Jackline policy from Markel American. Two years ago I thought all IMIS policies were the Jackline policy, but that is far from the truth. Our agent, Heather, provided some very helpful information in understanding the difference between our Concept policy and the Jackline policy they also offered. Some of the most striking things I learned were the following:

  • Though neither policy covers losses while the vessel is being used illegally, in the Jackline policy there is no absolute requirement that the vessel be in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations whereas under the Concept policy coverage is void if you fail to comply with any applicable law or regulation.
  • With Jackline, additional living expenses incurred due to temporary loss of use of the vessel as a residence is covered.
  • Coverage of diving equipment is not restricted with Jackline as it is under the Concept policy.
  • Covered personal property includes money, jewelry, watches, furs, china, glass silverware, antiques, collectibles, computer software or valuable papers unlike the Concept policy which excludes such items from coverage.

The Jackline coverages were nice, but the price tag associated with our specific circumstances was not.

Renewing our policy with IMIS through Concept would have been easy but our deductible was substantially increased and Consequential Damage was not covered. A new, very important item to us.

Craig at Novamar (quoted through Seaworthy) provided a much lower quote than IMIS and did include Consequential Damage. Craig was very pleasant to work with and very helpful in providing answers to all of my new and tedious questions about marine insurance coverage. We were about to sign on with him until we found a different quote from Pegasus that offered coverage inside the box at no additional cost, whereas Novamar would have increased our premium by 20% for these navigational limits. If we didn’t plan to be inside the box during hurricane season next year we would have strongly considered Novamar.

I discussed all of our options with Peter and we both agreed that The Pegasus Group offered by far the best value. The policy was backed by Lloyds of London directly, cutting out the middleman insurance company, and has an excellent reputation and rating. The deductibles were much lower than our existing policy and all the other limits were comparable. In fact, the named storm deductible from Pegasus is lower than our regular deductible from IMIS!  Lloyds offers deductibles as low as any company will go, standard hull deductible of 2% and a hurricane deductible of 4%. Most importantly, Consequential Damage was covered, there was no additional charge for being liveaboards, and there was no additional premium hike for staying ‘inside the box’ during Hurricane Season!! As an added bonus, Pegasus accepts surveys done anywhere from 3-5 years ago, instead of the typical 2-year maximum for new customers applying to other marine insurance agencies/companies. This was a huge factor for us because our last survey was dated July 2013 and we didn’t plan to haul out again until 2016.

We were referred to Pegasus by our friends Skeeter and Amy. They live aboard Saltwhistle, another Whitby 42 that we’ve been traveling with during the last few months. Now, we also highly recommend Pegasus and if you’d like to contact Kent for a quote, please tell him we sent you!!

Please note: Pegasus specializes in the Caribbean so they may or may not be able to help with other regions as competitively as they can in this region. Be sure to do your own research to find the best policy type and price for your own individual circumstances.

pegasusThe Pegasus Group
Kent Urbine
www.thepegasus-group.com
kentthepegasusgroup@outlook.com

New coverage was bound with Pegasus just in time for our last policy to lapse. We agreed on coverage with a day to spare and sent in payment soon after. Kent was extremely helpful and very fast. We are pleased to say the least.

Our story, however, doesn’t compare to our perfectly-timed referral, subsequent switch to Pegasus and thousands of dollars saved by our friends Brittany and Scott from Windtraveler. I had been chatting over facebook with Brittany one evening as Hurricane Danny was forecasted to be a direct hit on their boat, Asante. She briefly mentioned she was just dropped by her insurance company as they suddenly decided to discontinue coverage for liveaboards! With a hurricane on the horizon and no insurance on their boat, I immediately urged her to contact our new agent, Kent Urbine to see if he could help. She tells the incredible story best so click over and read it in her words to get the full effect :)

A little bit of advice directly from Kent:

ALL companies will deny claims if you give them a reason to. This is why it is important to go with an agency that specializes in marine insurance to make sure the coverage is set up right. The most frequent reason I see claims denied are for the following reasons:

  • People obtain a named operator policy and they let someone else operate the boat who is not approved.
  • They go outside their approved navigational limits/area. We get three or four calls a year from people who tell us “Well I’m back in Maryland after a safe trip from Tortola.” We then remind them that their policy only covered them while in the Caribbean.
  • We get many, many tender thefts. Tenders are covered for theft, however they have to be locked when not in use and they cannot be towed. They can be towed but they are not covered when towing.
  • We have a lot of people set up their policy for Pleasure and end up doing charters without changing to a commercial policy.

Please know that we are in no way sponsored by Pegasus, nor do we receive commission for referrals to The Pegasus Group. I’ve sifted through a lot of info while writing this post and the selection we made was based solely on our personal needs and circumstances. In my research I came across a lot of articles written by insurance companies that appeared to have a significant amount of bias and ulterior motives for making themselves sound good. Do your homework and consider the source.

If you’re shopping for boat insurance, I sincerely hope my research will help you make an educated decision before forking out that cash to pay your premium. I cannot stress enough that you should take the time to research the various insurance companies and insurance terminology to make sure you understand what you are paying for. If you don’t ask the questions, no one is going to tell you the truth!!

Check the forums, reach out on Facebook, and ask other boaters about their experiences. Ask detailed and thorough questions to your prospective insurance agents and don’t let them get away with vague answers. AllThingsBoat published an article about comparing boat insurance that you might find helpful while learning the terminology. The companies reviewed are not the only companies out there, but it’s a good starting point. The Pegasus Group also has a helpful explanation of most insurance jargon posted on their website.

Definitely do all you can to prevent disasters from happening, but also make sure you are protected – just in case!

If you have any helpful insight that I may have left out or if you simply want to share your experience, please leave a comment below!

**UPDATE: This post has been shared across social media outlets more times than I can count in the last few years and I’ve seen some very interesting and helpful discussions and comments in response to this article in many places. If you have the time, search for this article in past Facebook Group posts etc. to educate yourself even further.

58 comments

  1. Monday Never says:

    We end up with ORM after getting rejected by Pantaneus (sp?). We got quotes from ORM and IMIS that similar premiums and deductibles- $1600ish for 45k hull value and 5k tender/outboard. The big one for us is that we wanted to be covered in the hurricane box, which both are fine with. The policies seeme about the same, but tipped slightly towards ORM on deductible prices.

    Going to re-read the fine print on consequential damage though! Thanks for the thorough wrote up. This will be useful for a lot of people.

    -Will

    • Hi Will, if your policy through ORM is insured by Lloyds of London then you have the same general coverage as us. Take a closer look at the image I posted with the quote breakdown and you’ll see the differences in quotes I received from Pegasus and ORM, both insured by Lloyds. I seemed to have a much easier time working with Kent in tweaking the numbers and finding the exact coverage that I wanted. I’ve also heard from others that the customer service from ORM can be iffy. If you have trouble, consider getting a quote from Pegasus, it’s the same coverage! Glad you found it helpful, and for such a compliment coming from someone as thorough as you :)

      • Monday Never says:

        So many typos in my previous comment. Typing on a phone – awful.

        So I’m looking through my policy and it looks like we’re underwritten by Sunderland Marine. What does that mean? I don’t know. I’d rather it were Lloyd’s, ’cause at least I’ve heard of them. One thing I thought was funny when I was signing up was that “Personal Property” doesn’t include laptops, cash, cameras, jewelry, or anything else that a thief would want. Once I learned that, I wrote back and told them “well I don’t own 5 grand worth of shoes, so you can go ahead and reduce to $1000.”

        Going through the fine print this evening, I found this little gem:

        “Policy Excludes: Losses caused by or due to: wear and tear, gradual deterioration, lack of maintenance, inherent vice, insects, mould, animal and marine life, wet or dry rot.”

        So if we have a seacock fail due to electrolysis or a whale does a back dive across our bow, we’re fucked! Good to know.

        Doesn’t inherent vice sound so seedy? Apparently all that it is referring to is the tendency for physical objects to deteriorate over time, rather than a fire started by mishandling a crack pipe. But I bet that’s not covered either.

        What we do like about this policy, however, is that it covers us in ‘the box,’ they let us add any named operators we like, they’ll cover environmental damage if not negligent, and will help pay for moving and preparing the boat for a storm. I have to admit that I wasn’t as thorough as I ought to have been with comparing insurance. I found the process extremely tedious by the time I had gotten to my third application, so I just sort of went for what looked good on the surface. Live and learn.

        -Will

        • Ed Watson says:

          Sunderland Marine is a Mutual Company, Which means that the owners of the company, are the Insurereds (folks Insured).
          They are Based in Scotland and re-insure through Loyds. They ONLY insure boats, ships, and things Marine. They will have higher requirements that most Mutual’s will have.
          I have used them for years with great results.

  2. sally s ebeling says:

    Thank you, Jody, for such an informative study on boat insurance. I had no idea….I am sure many others will benefit from this!!!

  3. Amy Kelley says:

    Great post, Jody! I must say that we were very fortunate to have been referred to Kent at Pegasus group by our amazing broker Niles Pearsol in St Thomas back in 2013. I’m so happy that Kent was able to help you guys and Windtraveler, too! Thank you for doing all of this research and sharing it with everyone. Finding the right insurance is a daunting process, and it sure is nice to understand what you’re paying for!

  4. Saving to Sail says:

    I can’t thank you enough for such a well-thought-out post! We are just coming up on our due date to pay our premium, and we were hoping to move to someone else. We just realized (after reading your post) that it doesn’t look like we’re covered for wind damage AT ALL, even if we’re out of the hurricane zone during hurricane season (so had Erika not broken up and headed our way, we would not have been covered for wind damage, even though we’re above the zone). I’m sending Kent an email right now. Thank you for the great information!

  5. Jonathan says:

    Excellent piece Jody, thanks. Here’s my question. Did you start out asking for quotes from all you listed or was it sequential? Did you get any push back from the agents that you were asking for multiple quotes? Some agents have told me essentially, you don’t need to engage multiple agents as I can go to all the companies and get you the best deal. From your research, this does not appear to be the case. Thanks again. Jonathan

    • I asked for quotes from more than the companies I listed, though some were crazy expensive and some wouldn’t cover us due to the age of the vessel or the navigational limits we needed here in the Caribbean. I didn’t have any trouble with anyone complaining that I was getting several different quotes. It was actually my experience that different agencies would have slight differences in quotes and fees for the same coverage with the same company. I never requested a certain company when contacting the agency, and I would never know which one they would run the quote through. As you can see with my experience between ORM and Pegasus, ORM was not offering the exact same limits that Pegasus did and I didn’t feel that ORM was quoting my limits in my best interest or making any effort to work with the numbers. There was info that ORM left out, though I could have asked about it, I had a better experience with Pegasus for the same coverage.

      Of course an agent will tell you they can go to all the companies, they want to keep your business instead of having you go to another agent! I don’t see any harm in obtaining quotes from multiple sources, though I’m confirming a something related to this and i’ll post an update soon.

      • Caleb Drake says:

        Very interesting discussion. My current agent desires me to file an “Agent / Broker of Record Change” form that designates them as my “exclusive representative” which would enable them to obtain quotes for my boat insurance needs.

        What precipitated this? I asked for an online quote from a large company since I hadn’t heard from my current agent about renewing / changing my status to a live-aboard. Requesting an online quote myself apparently blocked them from obtaining quotes.

        So if the quote I received from the online company is less than one my current agent proposes, am I obligated to go with the higher quote (all things being equal)?

        Not sure I like this exclusive representative business, so I’ll probably vote with my feet.

  6. Kevin says:

    Nice work Jody! With our policy coming up in a few months this info gives us time and details to work on for the next policy. Thanks for your hard work on this!

    Kevin & Barb
    S/V Escape Claws

  7. Bill Rouse says:

    A US Documented Vessel can have a Home Port of St. Thomas or St. John USVI. If you have your Home Port in the USVI there are some European Insurance companies willing to write your insurance, including the largest, Helvetia. The reason they will not write you with a Home Port in the 50 US states is because of the litigious nature of the US. You will find that the best rates, policy language, hurricane coverage, etc. will be from an EU insurance company. You can change your Home Port on your US Documentation easily with the USCG Documentation Center. There is no sales tax in the USVI. There is a required USVI registration, unless US Documented.

    • Very interesting Bill! On the contrary, I also heard it may be more difficult to work with non-US jurisdictional regulations, in the event that a lawsuit comes about. It may be more difficult if the prevailing law is in the EU. But like you said, they have the best rates, language and coverage!

      That’s also helpful to know its easy to change your homeport, and the benefits associated with doing so. Thank you for commenting!!

  8. Van Schwiebert says:

    Jody, Did you consider or rank BoatUS? I know they are said to be expensive, but they are active in the field. Thanks for a helpful post!

      • John Dakins says:

        You might try them again (BoatUS). My history with them has been awesome, starting with a 15′ West Wight Potter on an inland lake near St. Louis. to a 31′ Hallberg Rassy on the same lake, to coverage on all the Great Lakes and Erie Canal and coastal waters, then Carib coverage down to the Turks. This includes coverage while my boat is strapped to the hard in Green Turtle Cay during H season. They covered me completely when my mast was damaged during removal in Tonawanda [http://www.magnificentmalamute.com/Sailing/august2013.html] and even if I could save a few bucks somewhere else, I wouldn’t. My Hallberg is hull #12, 1974 – but a less expensive boat than yours. Perhaps that is a difference. Anyway, I needed to make a good comment about BOATUS, since they have been terrific to me. Thanks.

  9. Ed Watson says:

    Another great piece Jody, You can now start selling Marine Insurance.

    Let me add a mention about Sue and Labor. Sue and Labor is usually a clause that deals with AFTER the accident. Sue and Labor allows the owner to try to salvage, or mitigate damage up to the policy value. It does not reduce the policy. Sue and Labor, doubles the amount that the Company is on the hook for if the vessel sinks or is a constructive total loss. (You could spend $80,000 on salvage, and still recover the Policy (Hull) limit for a total loss)
    Many boaters, when dealing with a loss forget that their insurance company will cover the cost of immediate actions to save the boat or limit damage to it or the environment around it. Many are in shock and wait too long to make decisions that could lessen their (and the company’s) loss.

    Jody, keep up the good work, and have fun.

    Whitby #306 New Hope.

  10. Jeff says:

    Thanks for sharing this information Jody. We’ve been thinking of changing insurance companies too as our current provider has a limited coverage area. The wrinkles for us have been that we are hoping to visit Cuba which is an exclusion region for many companies and some legs of our journey, (particularly the offshore run to the BVIs) exceed the basic distance from shore limitations and of course our survey is now 3 years old. We’ve been able to get offshore extensions and the prices have varied significantly between quotes (Offshore is where the Jackline policy excelled based on what we’ve been quoted), but the only policies we’ve been quoted that cover Cuba have the Consequential Damages wording.

    Fortunately our current policy doesn’t have the ‘minimum earned premium’ clause as we had to renew at least temporarily. We were contemplating just going to Cuba uninsured, but now I’ll contact your agent as I’ve been told that Lloyds can cover Cuba. Fingers crossed their offshore limitations or premiums are sensible too.

    Hopefully we will cross paths in the BVI’s this winter. We hope to be there mid November for a couple weeks and will be there again for 4-6 weeks around Feburary after a whirlwind down-island tour.

    • Van Schwiebert says:

      We too wanted to go to Cuba this year. Our US carrier would not/cannot cover. I found two possibilities for annual policies from Llyod’s based groups, but no rider and so, too expensive for us (i.e. duplicate on top of what we have). As well, the exclusions made the coverage less than desirable. We will await a freer opportunity to visit when we can get a rider to add Cuba.

  11. Great information and perfect timing. Our survey is 4+ years old and our insurance good till next spring, but after reading your article, I’m going shopping. One wrinkle for us, the links to Kurt @ Pegasus in the article didn’t work. I’ve found the Pegasus application on line, but no idea who will end up with it, and it sounds like working with Kurt is preferable. Any other way to reach him? Thanks so much for all the great info.

    Jennifer and Royce
    S/V Cerca Trova

  12. Devon Thurtle Anderson says:

    On the list of things insurers don’t want you to know, I would add: An insurance attorney can be a huge asset when adjusting a claim, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Believe it or not, most adjustors and agents don’t really know what their policy says – they only know what’s told to them in the summaries they receive from insurers, and sometimes in the continued licensing seminars they attend. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had adjustors, and even the insured’s own agent, say a particular loss isn’t covered, only to read the policy myself and determine that it is (and get the insurer to pay out). Most insurance attorneys (including myself) will read a policy for free to determine if there’s coverage for a particular loss. Then, most attorneys (again, myself included) often offer “contingency fee” payment plans, where you don’t pay the lawyer unless you recover money from your insurer. It’s very affordable, and can mean the difference between a covered loss and a denial.

    That’s not to say you always need an attorney. I generally recommend that companies work with an insurance attorney from the outset of a claim, but individuals can often do well simply working with their agent and the insurer’s adjustor. If, however, your claim is denied, or the adjustor isn’t willing to pay what you think it’s worth, that’s when it’s worth calling an insurance coverage attorney for a free consultation.

    (And now, I have to add because my license makes me: I’m licensed in WA, OR, and CA. This is not legal advice, as any legal advice will depend on your specific situation, nor am I your lawyer in writing this post. For questions, consult an attorney.)

    – Devon of http://www.andersonsabroad.com

    • Ed Watson says:

      That is good advice also.

      Folks need to remember that they are entitled to have their OWN Adjuster, if they think that the Insurance Company is not being reasonable. Most work for a percentage of the claim or repair, and act with the Insurance’s Attorneys and Adjuster (everyone needs somebody on their side).
      As always with contracts, Information is power.

      Whitby #306 New Hope

  13. Hey Jody,

    Great post. So much useful info!

    Our current policy is great but only covers us to T&C. We are going to have to get a different policy probably around March or April. We have been looking at a Lloyds of London policy through our current broker.

    Did Lloyds of London have any special survey requirements? We are planning to haul when we hit the Carolinas and meetup with some friends. We are going to get a survey done then for the change of coverage.

    Thanks for sharing all this great research.

    Fair winds,

    Jesse

  14. Kaylor @ Fisherman's Wife Furniture says:

    Thank you so much for all the great info. My husband and I were just talking about this yesterday. We currently live on the water near Galveston and have boats so insurance and hurricanes are not new to us but sailing and sailboats are. Our goal is to be living full time on a sailboat in the next few years and we have been researching things like insurance. It is extremely overwhelming the amount of stuff there is to know. This post pretty much answered our questions and many of our concerns with hurricane season. P.S. Love the blog. I have been reading for several months and I can’t wait to be writing about our adventures. :)

    Thanks again!

  15. Kaylor @ Fisherman's Wife Furniture says:

    Thanks for the great post. My husband and I were just talking about this yesterday. We live on the water near Galveston with boats so crazy insurance and hurricanes are not foreign to us, but sailboats are. We are currently learning how to sail and plan to be living a board full time in the next few years. You answered most of our questions and cleared up some concerns we have about the hurricane belt and coverage. Research on things like insurance have been a bit overwhelming so getting solid information from a current cruiser is appreciated! P.S. Love the blog. I have been reading it for months and I am enjoying all the great info. I can’t wait to share our adventures :)

    Thanks again!

  16. Colin & Liz says:

    Jody, you mention the option of NO insurance, my understanding is that some Marinas require insurance to dock in their faculties. If I head south in an older boat and decide to accept the chance that I could lose it, is there an option that just covers damage to other vessels, thus satisfying the Marinas requirements and keeping my rates lower?

  17. We have used Boat US for many years with good success. We have an older boat, 1974, and have had 2 claims which were both paid fairly easily. We now want to go back to the Caribbean (were there over 2 years on two different IMIS policies) and made a phone call to ask about their coverage since they now cover the Bahamas and the Caribbean. The phone conversation resulted in their telling us that we would now need to have three people full time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on the boat to do the Caribbean! This is unacceptable for us, so your article is very well timed for us too.

    A way we found to save money with Boat US on the east coast, is to simply change your coverage area as you relocate. It is cheaper than riders and has no time limits.

    D & Don
    SV SOUTHERN CROSS

  18. Anne Robson says:

    Great article! We are insured by Panteneus Sweden. We were previously insured by the UK branch but had a claim when the word electrolysis was used! This was scientifically correct but not due to poor maintenance. A nut came loose inside our alternator and caused a short which pushed a large current through our earthing system and destroyed our bow thrusters. How we were supposed to see inside the alternator I have no idea. Anyway we are now undergoing repairs following a lightning strike and Panteneus, Sweden have been great. So it’s worth looking at different nationalities of the same company as well.

  19. Bo says:

    Got off the phone with Kent a bit ago…hoping to move away from our current broker. He said they’ve been super busy and you opened the floodgates!

  20. Stacy says:

    Jody, what a wonderful post. You did so much investigating, It is obvious from the posts your fellow cruisers have appreciated it and also benefited greatly from your thorough research. I don’t even have a boat and found it to be very interesting all the different coverage’s and the “consequential damages” who knew!! So have you thought about becoming an agent?? It could be your calling!! Great and informative post!!

  21. Mark Roope says:

    An amazing bit of detailed research. They say it is all in the small print but that is why it is so small. They don’t want you to read the pitfalls of insurance. I am glad so so aptly highlighted what cruisers should know. If we all asked a few more of these questions then policies may change a little to accommodate the sailor rather than putting in get out clauses for the insurance companies.
    Thank you for taking the time to put up such a valuable post.

  22. Drew says:

    Good advice to ask for discounts. Many times, they have them available but won’t mention them unless you do first. It’s definitely worth a shot if it means saving you a few bucks. Thanks for the advice!

  23. LINDA BALL says:

    brand new to boat world and having difficulty getting liability insurance for liveaboard that is antique 72 and needs work…living on and working on it.at marina survey would be bad since it needs so much work….ANY ADVICE????

  24. ron welch says:

    thank you for the information about boat insurance. we use Pantaenius at present…do you have any info about this company? Also we are thinking about sailing our Lagoon 410 from the Bahamas to the Med in May 2017. Would it be better to use European insurance companies in the Med…if so Helvetia? thanks again

  25. Flip says:

    Thanks a bunch!

    Very timely information as I sit here in Hawaii on my cat struggling with insurance…My agent at IMIS tried to get me a quote for my 42′ cat with Jackline, but they insisted that my 1.5 year old survey was too old and I would have to sail to a neighboring island where the haulout facility can accept my boat, do an out of the water survey, (using the exact same surveyor lol) for a total cost of something like 2k roundtrip. All this despite my continuous coverage for the last several years with IMIS without a claim and 5000 bluewater miles in the last 2 years, most recently to Kiribati 9 months ago.

    I am hoping to use your contact Kent at Pegasus to get me coverage as I can not stomach forking over the money to a company which has been so illogical as I can imagine they would have a similar approach to any possible claims in the future!

    By the way, this blog address was received from a friend in Guam…so your post is definetly getting around the world :)

    Flip

  26. nikki wynn says:

    Excellent article! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your research and what you learned, its a huge help and gives me a leg up on my research. Much appreciated!

  27. geezenslaw says:

    I’m maintaining a Google Keep app called simply: boat purchase and your blog post is the most compelling on an otherwise very long list of items to know about sailing and boat shopping. Wow!

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