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My relatively modest boats are insured through State Farm, hull and liability.  They have never asked for a survey, rates are reasonable, geography is limited to U.S., Canada, and Bahamas.  Really reasonable, as in I think I pay $100 a year per boat, with a $10,000 valuation.

In contrast there are widespread anecdotal stories from sailors who find insurance to be expensive, difficult to obtain, prone to non-renewal for opaque reasons, and difficult to collect from should a legitimate claim arise.  In some cases this makes insurance a major share of the overall annual cost picture particularly with a larger, newer boat.

I sense that in some cases the problem is that underwriting requirements -- ones that the insurance companies and their agents will not disclose in detail -- are not met.  I don't know what they're looking for: certain makes and models? owner claims history with unrelated types of policies? credit score? certain home ports? inexperience? old age? something mentioned on an apparently satisfactory survey, such as age of major systems? offset companionway :)? some sort of scoring model that combines all these?

Like the rest of the leisure boating industry, insurance agents dislike lookie-loos; I've spoken with some that won't give any kind of hypothetical quote -- you have to have a HIN and an insurable interest in the boat.  This makes it hard to find facts.

So, what's going on?  How bad is it?  What can the average cruiser do to stay off whatever secret blacklists exist?

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I was told my rates were increasing because there was an increase in claims in my "area."  They also explained that older sailboats are difficult to insure because condition can vary substantially, equipment, etc etc.   Basically it is a pain for them to do business with me was what I gathered or at least the feeling I was left with.   Makes sense in a way since the costs of simply negotiating a claim would easily exceed the yearly premium, not considering any payout you are likely to get. My insurance is 20% of my yearly ownership not counting maintenance....  Required by the harbor although I do have additional coverages.

 

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Bought my current boat in 2017 - a 17 yo boat.   Boat/US - Geico insured it for around $800/yr.    Every year they increased the rates even though I never filed a claim.   This year they more than doubled last years rate and wanted $2,600.

So I switched to Progressive for ......  $800/yr.   And it took me 15 minutes to save a lot more than 15%.

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The cheaper "boat" policies you get from US big insurance companies are often similar to car insurance policy.

What does your policy pay if the boat is a write off?  Do you see the words "actual cash value" or "market value"?  If so, you get what $$ the underwriter offers.

Most "yacht" policies for somewhat more expensive boats:

- have a stated value for the vessel in case of a total loss
- do not usually give depreciated prices for repairs for a partial loss.

i.e. your mast falls down. They say well it's 25 years old so we give you 20% of the value of a new mast. Good yacht policies work on a "new for old" basis. That's why they cost a lot more.

yacht policies are very much the owner being underwritten as much as the boat. You usually have to provide a sailing resume so they can judge your experience. And a satisfactory survey. 

What is your liability on this policy?  My yacht policies have had 1-5M liability. If I injure somebody or scratch the paint on a megayacht I want all the coverage I can get.

I carry 2M auto liability (1-2M is typical in Canada) but was shocked when I was insuring a car in the US that was way too expensive to buy.

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I am really only interested in liability insurance, own the boats and can pay for losses or damage myself.

Cant find any liability only policies down here any more.

Both boats have comprehensive insurance through a broker I have used for many years, requirements are getting tighter each year.
The latest boat can’t be insured for a mooring, has to be in a marina.

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25 minutes ago, Zonker said:

The cheaper "boat" policies you get from US big insurance companies are often similar to car insurance policy.

What does your policy pay if the boat is a write off?  Do you see the words "actual cash value" or "market value"?  If so, you get what $$ the underwriter offers.

Most "yacht" policies for somewhat more expensive boats:

- have a stated value for the vessel in case of a total loss
- do not usually give depreciated prices for repairs for a partial loss.

It is a fair market value policy but does not pay depreciated rates for repairs in the event of a partial loss.

25 minutes ago, Zonker said:

What is your liability on this policy?  My yacht policies have had 1-5M liability. If I injure somebody or scratch the paint on a megayacht I want all the coverage I can get.

I carry 2M auto liability (1-2M is typical in Canada) but was shocked when I was insuring a car in the US that was way too expensive to buy.

2M for car and boats.  There are a dozen or so car crashes every year that end with settlements over 1M in my state alone.  The cases make interesting reading.  Over 2M is rare and typically involve someone in a position of public trust doing something grossly negligent.  The example that comes to mind was a company authorized for oversize/overweight loads that failed to secure a load properly.  The load fell off the trailer resulting in injuries and a fatality.

There is a growing trend towards criminal/felony prosecution of car crashes in the USA which makes high-limit liability polices largely pointless but that's a separate topic.

 

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In any event 100 / 10,000 = 1%. That's OK but risks on inland lakes are probably much lower than coastal craft. As the boat gets to be something like 100K or 200K and ocean crossing the rate is often 1.5-2+ %

Also you don't boat all year I assume so the risk numbers get better too.

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Well, I think I’m paying far too much for my farm/business/home insurance so that throwing an old boat into the mix is pretty much a non-issue for the company.  As I understand it, the underwriter for the boat isn’t necessarily the same as the underwriter for the farm truck or for the greenhouse.  They might be underwriting “cheap boats owned by a group of farmers” in general, without much specific information about individuals.  But that’s a guess.  I also have an “umbrella” policy that for a modest fee tacks a couple million extra liability coverage onto any of my other coverages that might need it.  I was surprised to see that the policy actually covers the boat replacement as well with “agreed value” which I assume is just a pittance.  I wasn’t really counting on it.  

Of course I if I do sell-up and sail away, that big policy all goes away and I’ll have to start over

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In Europe, almost every insurer offers some boat liability. Just fill out a form and you’ll get it. Typically 3M Euros will cost around 200 per year. Why 3 and not 2 or 4? Because that’s what Regatta organisers demand. The PO of my boat also had it insured for an agreed value of 20,000. It was another 200 per year as I recall. I can look the exact numbers up if you want. 

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  • 5 months later...

Bump!

I am looking at new insurance options for VALIS (Pacific Seacraft 44, slipped in Friday Harbor).  I currently have Markel.  I guess they're OK, the policy looks comprehensive, but I've never filed a claim.  They are asking for another out-of-water survey (previous survey was five years ago, excellent report).  I don't need to haul otherwise, and would rather avoid the hassle and expense.  Markel has insured me for the Hawaii races, but I don't plan on straying far from home in the foreseeable future.

So I looked at BoatUS / Geico (I already have a towing policy with BoatUS), and while they won't step up the Agreed Value to the $500K of my current policy, they will cover at around $400K, and that seems reasonable.  I'm more worried about liability than full loss coverage.  Geico says they won't require a survey, and the policy cost is about half of the Markel.

I'm going to ask my homeowners insurance agent (they handle insurance for my small powerboat), and the agent who currently handles the VALIS Markel policy for their suggestions.  In the mean time, does anyone here have good or bad things to say about Geico?  Or have other suggestions?  My goals are lower cost, no survey, and adequate coverage.  I don't mind a high deductible.

Thanks!

 

 

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I seem to recall that In The Beginning, there was also a document that stated the allowed area of operation. Though I have not seen it since - doesn't come with the annual policy declarations.  I imagine that has a significant influence on premiums.  

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On 5/16/2021 at 11:57 AM, 2airishuman said:

My relatively modest boats are insured through State Farm, hull and liability.  They have never asked for a survey, rates are reasonable, geography is limited to U.S., Canada, and Bahamas.  Really reasonable, as in I think I pay $100 a year per boat, with a $10,000 valuation.

In contrast there are widespread anecdotal stories from sailors who find insurance to be expensive, difficult to obtain, prone to non-renewal for opaque reasons, and difficult to collect from should a legitimate claim arise.  In some cases this makes insurance a major share of the overall annual cost picture particularly with a larger, newer boat.

I sense that in some cases the problem is that underwriting requirements -- ones that the insurance companies and their agents will not disclose in detail -- are not met.  I don't know what they're looking for: certain makes and models? owner claims history with unrelated types of policies? credit score? certain home ports? inexperience? old age? something mentioned on an apparently satisfactory survey, such as age of major systems? offset companionway :)? some sort of scoring model that combines all these?

Like the rest of the leisure boating industry, insurance agents dislike lookie-loos; I've spoken with some that won't give any kind of hypothetical quote -- you have to have a HIN and an insurable interest in the boat.  This makes it hard to find facts.

So, what's going on?  How bad is it?  What can the average cruiser do to stay off whatever secret 

“Cruisers” represent an extreme insurance risk

insurance companies want to know if a boat is fit for purpose and that it has a safe home …not laying on the anchor over there 

insurance companies are also sensitive to Americans and liability 

in general I can get an insurance estimate, for a non US flag ,  on the phone in Europe 

in the US this is not possible ..paperwork , application and approval 

 

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1 hour ago, toddster said:

I seem to recall that In The Beginning, there was also a document that stated the allowed area of operation. Though I have not seen it since - doesn't come with the annual policy declarations.  I imagine that has a significant influence on premiums.  

Yes it does.  My Markel policy includes the declarations with the renewal forms, and mine states:

Quote

Inland waters of Puget Sound, including a radius of 25 miles of Cape Flattery; the inside waters of British Columbia not north of 51 degrees latitude or west of Hope Island, BC

This is fine for my current needs, but when I wanted to sail down to San Francisco or to Hawaii I had to add a rider.  That definitely cost more.

The BoatUS / Geico policy says:

Quote

CRUISING LIMITS: (There is no coverage outside of this area without the Company’s written permission.)
Coastal and Inland waters of the U.S. and Canada

This seems much better than my current Markel range.

The Agent who handles my Markel policy tells me that the Geico policy should be a good match for my needs.

 

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Are the Geico etc Agreed Value (not Actual Cash Value). 

Read the policy proposed, not the brochure.

What does it say about depreciation? Good policies are "new for old."  Bad ones pay depriciated rates on replacement items. 

What is the wording on "Consequential damages"? I.e. If a turnbuckle breaks do they pay for the new mast? 

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I have Markel through USAA. Agreed value. I've had them for 10 years and no claims. But, they care about how long the boat is in the water, and there are geographic restrictions. I asked about expanding it and they said to call them one month before I go.  No idea if they will screw me. 

I may just go for liability if they do decide to screw me. I own boats that are cheap enough so I can replace it or do any work at a full service yard without sweating, (well, not build a new one). The biggest loss would be the effort down the drain. 

No need to go crazy with liability, but you should always have umbrella insurance equal to your net worth. 

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12 minutes ago, Zonker said:

Are the Geico etc Agreed Value (not Actual Cash Value). 

Read the policy proposed, not the brochure.

What does it say about depreciation? Good policies are "new for old."  Bad ones pay depriciated rates on replacement items. 

What is the wording on "Consequential damages"? I.e. If a turnbuckle breaks do they pay for the new mast? 

The Geico quote (not brochure) says

Quote

THIS IS AN AGREED HULL VALUE POLICY.
Depreciation will apply to partial losses

Does this mean that if my boat is a total loss I get the agreed value, but if it's repairable I only get partial coverage (not replacement value)?  I see no wording on consequential damages.

I can deal with the depreciation.  My main concern is liability.  I just don't want to pay for a stupid policy.

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1 hour ago, Elegua said:

I have Markel through USAA. Agreed value. I've had them for 10 years and no claims. But, they care about how long the boat is in the water, and there are geographic restrictions. I asked about expanding it and they said to call them one month before I go.  No idea if they will screw me. 

I may just go for liability if they do decide to screw me. I own boats that are cheap enough so I can replace it or do any work at a full service yard without sweating, (well, not build a new one). The biggest loss would be the effort down the drain. 

No need to go crazy with liability, but you should always have umbrella insurance equal to your net worth. 

I got Progressive, also with a small discount via USAA. No survey for me. Also no claims. They are great to deal with, very easy. I price checked Boat US/Geico the last two years because I like Boat US, but they were a good bit more expensive. I have heard that Progressive is not the best for claims but I have no experience with that. They are definitely priced competitively and easy to work with. 

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Are you using a broker.  Its one of the benifits of not going direct.  My understanding is they will depreciate equipment, rig engine etc based on the scope of failure to a point.  Total loss is total loss and you get the agreed value.

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2 hours ago, valis said:

I can deal with the depreciation

Really? I asked one insurer about how much I'd get if a 20 year old mast fell down, and 10 year old sails were lost.

I was told the mast would be at ~20% of replacement cost [they wouldn't commit to an actual number] and sails would be fully depreciated. i.e. you get nothing. Can't recall what the rigging was but suspect they would be fully depreciated as well after 10 years. So a 50K loss (30K for mast/rigging, 10K sails, 10K labour) I'd maybe get 20% of 30K = 6K. Maybe I'd get full labour to replace the mast and fix the damage to the deck.

Better marine yacht policies do not do this. All-purpose boat policies you buy from auto/home insurer do this sort of shit that is why I'm trying to educate folks.

I do not know how a hull accident is repaired. Suspect they would just fix it but not really sure.

2 hours ago, valis said:

I see no wording on consequential damages.

That is poor. That generally means they are not covered.

Example:  A Policy With Consequential Loss

If a deteriorated stern-drive boot causes your boat to sink, the cause of loss, deterioration, is excluded. We will exclude the cost of the deteriorated stern-drive boot, but we will pay for all ensuing damage from the sinking. Great News! You're Covered!

https://www.unitedmarine.net/boat_insurance/consequential.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

Good reading about consequential coverage and what it means (Click "I'm not interested" to see the article.)

https://www.practical-sailor.com/sailboat-reviews/consequential-damage-coverage

Liability:

- good policies should cover wreck removal / salvage which can be very costly to you

- should cover fuel spill (usually to some limit)

https://www.boatus.com/news-room/release/buying-boat-insurance-the-fine-print

My dad had a friend who was a local marine broker for decades here in Vancouver. He said that sailboats seldom were big losses on a per capita basis. They were way more safe/educated. Smaller powerboats were way more likely to do stupid stuff causing big losses. Stern drives were a particular issue hitting logs and tearing them off and sometimes sinking the boat.

 

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6 minutes ago, Zonker said:

Really? I asked one insurer about how much I'd get if a 20 year old mast fell down, and 10 year old sails were lost.

I was told the mast would be at ~20% of replacement cost [they wouldn't commit to an actual number] and sails would be fully depreciated. i.e. you get nothing. Can't recall what the rigging was but suspect they would be fully depreciated as well after 10 years. So a 50K loss (30K for mast/rigging, 10K sails, 10K labour) I'd maybe get 20% of 30K = 6K. Maybe I'd get full labour to replace the mast and fix the damage to the deck.

Better marine yacht policies do not do this. All-purpose boat policies you buy from auto/home insurer do this sort of shit that is why I'm trying to educate folks.

I appreciate this (and the rest).  Very Useful

I could lose the entire boat and pay for a new one if needed, and it wouldn't change my lifestyle.  I wouldn't like it though, and if I'm buying insurance I want to get the best I can given the tradeoffs.  No survey is one of my desires, because of the hassle.  My main reason for the insurance (besides marina requirements) is because of uncontrolled liability.  I have a solid umbrella, but I need underlying insurance for that to take effect.

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Glad you're in such good shape. You should buy me a boat! Doesn't have to be as fancy as yours or anything.

OK, I'd certainly talk to other marine insurance brokers about better policy wording. They'll all require a survey (existing or new) so might as well bite the bullet and get the survey done and shop it around to some other insurers.

My impression of Merkel is they were overpriced when we inquired of them.

You could also see if the current insurer will give you a pass until next spring for out-of-water survey / paint the bottom, and see if an in-water survey will be acceptable for the next 5 months?

The pleasureboat insurance market has really contracted with insurers in the past 2-3 years. All those losses in the Caribbean affect the total yacht market, like it or not.

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Thanks, Zonker.  I generally go for a high deductible, and I might end up considering the depreciation as another form of deductible.  But I'm going to look around some more to be sure.

If I bought you a boat you would feel guilty and somehow end up resenting me for it.  Perhaps it's best to not risk that.

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8 minutes ago, toddster said:

The great thing about the small cheap 50 y/o boat market is that ordinary people can self-insure.  I call it my “swim away” policy.  

You can insure against loss, but what about liability?  Friends of mine had a small powerboat, and they were T-boned by a recklessly speeding couple on a jet-ski.  It killed the girl on the jet-ski and my friends insurance company had to spend lots of $$$ defending them in court.  They won their case -- they certainly weren't at fault.  Of course the death fairly shattered my friends (they sold the boat soon after), but if they hadn't had insurance it could have shattered them financially as well.  Or what about leaking diesel fuel cleanup if your boat sinks?  I'm not trying to harsh anyone's mellow here, but liability is a real thing. 

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Yeah, but liability is cheap compared to replacement cost.

I’m afraid I don’t get the idea of carrying “umbrella equal to net worth.”  Although I am currently carrying an umbrella equal to about thee times my net worth.  Sleazy lawyers will sue for everything x 5.  Seems like the better strategy is to shelter everything behind LLC’s and sleazy lawyers.  If you have anything, that is.  

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4 hours ago, valis said:

You can insure against loss, but what about liability?  Friends of mine had a small powerboat, and they were T-boned by a recklessly speeding couple on a jet-ski.  It killed the girl on the jet-ski and my friends insurance company had to spend lots of $$$ defending them in court.  They won their case -- they certainly weren't at fault.  Of course the death fairly shattered my friends (they sold the boat soon after), but if they hadn't had insurance it could have shattered them financially as well.  Or what about leaking diesel fuel cleanup if your boat sinks?  I'm not trying to harsh anyone's mellow here, but liability is a real thing. 

If you are American you should research liability 

the Jones act allows individuals to go after the owner of the boat 

this is one of the reason high net worth individuals choose foreign flags  and why American crew and American charter guests are not welcome 

I’m sure that products are available … some kinda umbrella … but you should clarify 

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10 hours ago, Zonker said:

 

The pleasureboat insurance market has really contracted with insurers in the past 2-3 years. All those losses in the Caribbean affect the total yacht market, like it or not.

This.

Several participants in the 2022 Newport Bermuda race have reported difficulty in getting policies or riders to cover them while racing offshore to Bermuda next year.

 

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I have a 30ft daysailer insured with Chubb - I also have my homeowner's and auto with them.., but for some reason the boat is a separate policy.

Agreed value is $50K. I pay about $1200/yr - the liability under the boat policy goes up to where my umbrella requires - but i forget what that is.

I guess it's kind of an expensive policy for what is a pretty small boat...

One thing that influenced me a bit is that I had two auto claims with Chubb -  the guy at the auto body shop said: "oh, you have Chubb.., great.., everything will be easy.., you will get OEM parts.., and they won't give me a hard time about anything.., i'm glad you don't have Geico"

The other thing is that my boat lives on a mooring that is not well protected. I tend to move the boat to a marina when bad weather is forecast. They have paid for the marina several times over the years, apparently without any effect on my premium. The first time they even paid for new dock lines as the lines that came with the boat were crappy. The conditions under which this is covered are described in the policy, and I don't have to call them ahead.

maybe i could save a few hundred bucks.., but i'm not sure it's worth it.

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15 minutes ago, us7070 said:

I have a 30ft daysailer insured with Chubb - I also have my homeowner's and auto with them.., but for some reason the boat is a separate policy.

Agreed value is $50K. I pay about $1200/yr - the liability under the boat policy goes up to where my umbrella requires - but i forget what that is.

I guess it's kind of an expensive policy for what is a pretty small boat...

One thing that influenced me a bit is that I had two auto claims with Chubb -  the guy at the auto body shop said: "oh, you have Chubb.., great.., everything will be easy.., you will get OEM parts.., and they won't give me a hard time about anything.., i'm glad you don't have Geico"

The other thing is that my boat lives on a mooring that is not well protected. I tend to move the boat to a marina when bad weather is forecast. They have paid for the marina several times over the years, apparently without any effect on my premium. The first time they even paid for new dock lines as the lines that came with the boat were crappy. The conditions under which this is covered are described in the policy, and I don't have to call them ahead.

maybe i could save a few hundred bucks.., but i'm not sure it's worth it.

Chubb seems to be the dominant insurance underwriter 

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My policy expires Jan 1 and my broker is lining up a replacement but has warned premium will go up b/c there aren't many companies covering 20 plus year boats any more. The company I had was only with me a year, was about 40% more expensive than the previous one and would have required a survey to be completed this year but still got out of the business. I have the survey on tap for December so should be fine but still don't know what the financial hit with a new carrier will be. In all my years of boat ownership, the only claim was when a boat hit me at anchor and that was 25 years ago. I don't even know anyone in San Diego that has had a major claim in the last ten years but I guess we're paying for all the weather related claims on the East Coast.

A yacht broker told me last week that coverage for wooden boats is non existent. It's really getting difficult and will probably get worse.

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7 hours ago, slug zitski said:

If you are American you should research liability 

the Jones act allows individuals to go after the owner of the boat 

this is one of the reason high net worth individuals choose foreign flags  and why American crew and American charter guests are not welcome 

I’m sure that products are available … some kinda umbrella … but you should clarify 

Big umbrella - Check.
Boat owned by LLC - Check.
Sleazy Lawyers - Check. (Actually not so sleazy, we're decent friends, but he's good at this stuff)

LLCs can be pierced but it's still a layer of protection.  My main protection is that we actually live very peaceful lives and try not to get ourselves into situations where we put others at risk.  We live as if we had no insurance.  But boats and life in general always contain an element of risk.

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31 minutes ago, valis said:

Big umbrella - Check.
Boat owned by LLC - Check.
Sleazy Lawyers - Check. (Actually not so sleazy, we're decent friends, but he's good at this stuff)

LLCs can be pierced but it's still a layer of protection.  My main protection is that we actually live very peaceful lives and try not to get ourselves into situations where we put others at risk.  We live as if we had no insurance.  But boats and life in general always contain an element of risk.

You never know 

youre out sailing on a nice day , guest  goes forward , skids out on a flying fish on deck , throws his back out … lawyers gets you for 10 million 

be alert , ask the insurance guy or your lawyer and beware when sailing with Americans 

 

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20 hours ago, Zonker said:

Are the Geico etc Agreed Value (not Actual Cash Value). 

Read the policy proposed, not the brochure.

What does it say about depreciation? Good policies are "new for old."  Bad ones pay depriciated rates on replacement items. 

What is the wording on "Consequential damages"? I.e. If a turnbuckle breaks do they pay for the new mast? 

Geico will not go beyond 40 year old boat. >= ~1981.

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3 hours ago, kinardly said:

My policy expires Jan 1 and my broker is lining up a replacement but has warned premium will go up b/c there aren't many companies covering 20 plus year boats any more. The company I had was only with me a year, was about 40% more expensive than the previous one and would have required a survey to be completed this year but still got out of the business. I have the survey on tap for December so should be fine but still don't know what the financial hit with a new carrier will be. In all my years of boat ownership, the only claim was when a boat hit me at anchor and that was 25 years ago. I don't even know anyone in San Diego that has had a major claim in the last ten years but I guess we're paying for all the weather related claims on the East Coast.

A yacht broker told me last week that coverage for wooden boats is non existent. It's really getting difficult and will probably get worse.

Your yacht broker can't be right unless not insuring wooden boats is a local thing? There are too many around me that are worth fortunes, I can't believe they are going without insurance. 

My fiberglass boat is 60 years old (and an oddball being half wood), and I've never had a problem getting insurance (and I made a large claim on this boat 20 years ago). The insurer covers the hull at the present survey value(which has gone up since I've owned the boat). It's not a huge policy, hull value 55K (about), annual is around 1K. 

But I've never shopped around, our agent has done that. I believe this is the second underwriter the agent has used for the boat in about 22 years. 

However, I wouldn't be surprised to see changes now and in the future. Insurance companies are getting strange with other policies we have. 

 

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1 hour ago, Kris Cringle said:

Your yacht broker can't be right unless not insuring wooden boats is a local thing? There are too many around me that are worth fortunes, I can't believe they are going without insurance. 

My fiberglass boat is 60 years old (and an oddball being half wood), and I've never had a problem getting insurance (and I made a large claim on this boat 20 years ago). The insurer covers the hull at the present survey value(which has gone up since I've owned the boat). It's not a huge policy, hull value 55K (about), annual is around 1K. 

But I've never shopped around, our agent has done that. I believe this is the second underwriter the agent has used for the boat in about 22 years. 

However, I wouldn't be surprised to see changes now and in the future. Insurance companies are getting strange with other policies we have. 

 

If you are in New England  you might ask about insurance coverage when stored out of the water for winter 

I was just up there to inspect a mast . A well regarded boatyard 

the boats are winter stored out of the water , stacked up like firewood 

boats gunnel to gunnel , bow to stern …so tight packed that it was difficult for me to erect a ladder and climb on board 

this is a gigantic fire hazard 

one boat catches fire and the whole dam mess goes up in flames 

not long ago a boat storage facility caught fire .. 18 boats destroyed 

the insurance companies  rejected the claims because of the close stacking and inaccessibility  for fireman to get close to the fire 

If you are stored like this you would be wise to photograph and ask your insurance company what is the rule 

E07B624A-809F-41D2-9492-B7FF0FFF5B28.jpeg

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1 hour ago, Kris Cringle said:

Your yacht broker can't be right unless not insuring wooden boats is a local thing? There are too many around me that are worth fortunes, I can't believe they are going without insurance. 

 

For your sake I hope you're right but this broker has been at it for about thirty years and that's what he's telling me. Considering the experience I've had lately, I wouldn't be so sure he's wrong. I used USAA for about twenty years until they stopped writing direct policies and began farming the business to Progressive. When I bought my current boat, I thought Progressive's quote was way high so I shopped around, ended up with AAA which only lasted a year before they dropped all policies for boats over 30'. The next year, I bought insurance through a local broker, Douglas K. Smith, from Premium Marine. That worked for two years until they dropped the small boat business at the end of 2020. The broker then hooked me up with National Casualty but for a 40% increase in premium. My wife used to be in the insurance business and she absolutely said no way we were going to buy cheaper coverage from Geico, apparently due to the latter's reputation for screwing claimants over fine print details. So we bit the bullet. National Casualty required a new, out of water survey to be performed within the following year as a condition of renewal, which I have scheduled for next month. But now they've notified my broker that they are not renewing policies for vessels under $1M hull value. Again, the explanation is excessive underwriting losses versus low profits.

To qualify for the Premium Marine coverage, I had to submit a three page resume of my boating experience, which makes sense, but it all indicates a worrisome trend. The carriers that remain are leery of writing policies for small (<$1M) vessels and there isn't going to be a lot of choice.

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23 hours ago, valis said:

The Geico quote (not brochure) says

Does this mean that if my boat is a total loss I get the agreed value, but if it's repairable I only get partial coverage (not replacement value)?  I see no wording on consequential damages.

I can deal with the depreciation.  My main concern is liability.  I just don't want to pay for a stupid policy.

 

That is how it worked when I checked a couple of years ago.

I'm the guy that created a PR stir with Geico that ended up in a practical sailor article, when I learned that the critical thing with Geico is the age of the hull. There was an extensive thread on this a few years back, when Boat US changed to being underwritten by Geico. You should read the actual policy, but this was accurate as of a couple of years ago. 

The GEICO policy language now in force through Boat US- and confirmed by their representatives when I talked to them directly with this question- makes it clear that for repairs they will cover a maximum of 20% of the cost, less deductible, if the boat is older than 28 years. Unless something has changed, it's a 10% greater deductible for each year past 20, down to 20% minimum. They may fully cover new detachable equipment, but for the rig, hull damage, or attached systems, I was specifically told that the depreciation allowance applies- and that’s what the policy language says.

What I was told was that you could have just rebuilt the vessel from stem to stern, it wouldn't matter. It would not matter if your rig was brand new or you had just completed a gold plated restoration to better than new. If the boat is over 20 years old your coverage for damage is 10% less each passing year. For a TOTAL loss they would cover up to the agreed value. But for less than a total loss, for repairs, your have minimal to nonexistent coverage through Boat US / Geico. This may work for some, but for me, with a 50 year old boat, this qualified as a stupid policy. 

I asked the Boat US representative a hypothetical case (they needed to put me on hold and get the answer from a supervisor) this question: If I had a pristine, newly restored but older boat, and it suffered hull or rig damage that would cost $10,000 to repair to the pre-accident state, what would my maximum coverage be? The answer was $2,000, less my deductible. 20% of the actual cost of repairs, less deductible. 

When Boat US policies were being underwritten by CNA, up to a few years ago, they covered the actual cost of repairs less the deductible on both new and older boats. There would have been allowances for depreciation on things like sails and electronics, but they paid to put things back in something like the state they were in before the loss. For the above scenario the coverage would have been 10,000 less the deductible.  

For owners of older boats this may be a very significant issue- my boat will be 50 this year and is cold molded wood. I got a number of quotes fairly easily (I did have a recent good survey), and none of the other policies had anything like the Boat US depreciation clause for repairs.

In the PS article, a Boat US spokesperson indicated that there were riders that could be purchased to lessen depreciation on things like upholstery or canvas, but nothing changed that fundamental issue that if someone T-bones you at anchor and puts a big hole in the hull, and your boat is older, the don't provide much coverage. 

I dropped Boat US (after many years and zero claims) and went with State Farm. The policy is not only less expensive, it will cover repairs, less deductible, to put the boat back to pre-damage condition should something unpleasant happen. 

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4 hours ago, Borax Johnson said:

Geico will not go beyond 40 year old boat. >= ~1981.

GEICO/BoatUS insures my 1969 Westerly Centaur. First two years of coverage was under a "Agreed Upon Hull Value" of $2,300 with a $500 vanishing deductible, $500k liability (maxed out), at ~$320 a year.

I let them have it for the two years, then switched out to a liability only for ~$80 a year, as of a month ago. I can't find a replacement 26' 4ksb in my area for $2,300, so I'm better off saving up my pennies.

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1 hour ago, Oceanconcepts said:

 

That is how it worked when I checked a couple of years ago.

I'm the guy that created a PR stir with Geico that ended up in a practical sailor article, when I learned that the critical thing with Geico is the age of the hull. There was an extensive thread on this a few years back, when Boat US changed to being underwritten by Geico. You should read the actual policy, but this was accurate as of a couple of years ago. 

The GEICO policy language now in force through Boat US- and confirmed by their representatives when I talked to them directly with this question- makes it clear that for repairs they will cover a maximum of 20% of the cost, less deductible, if the boat is older than 28 years. Unless something has changed, it's a 10% greater deductible for each year past 20, down to 20% minimum. They may fully cover new detachable equipment, but for the rig, hull damage, or attached systems, I was specifically told that the depreciation allowance applies- and that’s what the policy language says.

What I was told was that you could have just rebuilt the vessel from stem to stern, it wouldn't matter. It would not matter if your rig was brand new or you had just completed a gold plated restoration to better than new. If the boat is over 20 years old your coverage for damage is 10% less each passing year. For a TOTAL loss they would cover up to the agreed value. But for less than a total loss, for repairs, your have minimal to nonexistent coverage through Boat US / Geico. This may work for some, but for me, with a 50 year old boat, this qualified as a stupid policy. 

I asked the Boat US representative a hypothetical case (they needed to put me on hold and get the answer from a supervisor) this question: If I had a pristine, newly restored but older boat, and it suffered hull or rig damage that would cost $10,000 to repair to the pre-accident state, what would my maximum coverage be? The answer was $2,000, less my deductible. 20% of the actual cost of repairs, less deductible. 

When Boat US policies were being underwritten by CNA, up to a few years ago, they covered the actual cost of repairs less the deductible on both new and older boats. There would have been allowances for depreciation on things like sails and electronics, but they paid to put things back in something like the state they were in before the loss. For the above scenario the coverage would have been 10,000 less the deductible.  

For owners of older boats this may be a very significant issue- my boat will be 50 this year and is cold molded wood. I got a number of quotes fairly easily (I did have a recent good survey), and none of the other policies had anything like the Boat US depreciation clause for repairs.

In the PS article, a Boat US spokesperson indicated that there were riders that could be purchased to lessen depreciation on things like upholstery or canvas, but nothing changed that fundamental issue that if someone T-bones you at anchor and puts a big hole in the hull, and your boat is older, the don't provide much coverage. 

I dropped Boat US (after many years and zero claims) and went with State Farm. The policy is not only less expensive, it will cover repairs, less deductible, to put the boat back to pre-damage condition should something unpleasant happen. 

That’s very helpful. I may need to get a quote from State Farm when I price shop again. This year I will just stick with Progressive. I know it is shit coverage but I don’t have a classic or wildly expensive yacht, I hate insurance companies, and I don’t make claims unless I absolutely have to. So I want the basic coverage and don’t want to overpay. What I care about is liability, basic personal injury, theft of electronics, wreckage removal. That is my objective.

I have a sailboat and a powerboat, total value of like $95K, and pay like $650 for boat insurance. Each year I did not make a claim the cost and deductible have gone down.  Yeah, it’s actual cash value but I would probably just pay out of pocket if it’s under ~30k and honestly I think the risk of damage like that is low. I think my risk of sinking is low. I am not going to pay for the level of insurance that would be required to protect against the “personal injury/take your house” scenario, and I think the risk of that is low too. So why pay 3 times or more what I am paying now for insurance I don’t think I will use? If I could get agreed value for a thousand or $1200 I would probably do it, but with the way premiums have gone up I don’t think I could.

Its like homeowners in my opinion. You can pay up for a better liability, guaranteed replacement, hurricane, loss of use etc etc. But at the end of the day you are still probably going to get screwed over by the insurance company, at least that has been my USAA experience.

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1 hour ago, Oceanconcepts said:

Unless something has changed, it's a 10% greater deductible for each year past 20, down to 20% minimum. They may fully cover new detachable equipment, but for the rig, hull damage, or attached systems, I was specifically told that the depreciation allowance applies- and that’s what the policy language says.

Thanks, this is useful information that isn't contained in my Geico quote.  A deductible is mentioned, but there are no details.  I suppose I need to see the actual policy language.  My boat is 19 going on 20 years old, so that deductible may not be too bad now, but I would rather not have to quickly change carriers for this reason.

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14 hours ago, kinardly said:

For your sake I hope you're right but this broker has been at it for about thirty years and that's what he's telling me. Considering the experience I've had lately, I wouldn't be so sure he's wrong. I used USAA for about twenty years until they stopped writing direct policies and began farming the business to Progressive. When I bought my current boat, I thought Progressive's quote was way high so I shopped around, ended up with AAA which only lasted a year before they dropped all policies for boats over 30'. The next year, I bought insurance through a local broker, Douglas K. Smith, from Premium Marine. That worked for two years until they dropped the small boat business at the end of 2020. The broker then hooked me up with National Casualty but for a 40% increase in premium. My wife used to be in the insurance business and she absolutely said no way we were going to buy cheaper coverage from Geico, apparently due to the latter's reputation for screwing claimants over fine print details. So we bit the bullet. National Casualty required a new, out of water survey to be performed within the following year as a condition of renewal, which I have scheduled for next month. But now they've notified my broker that they are not renewing policies for vessels under $1M hull value. Again, the explanation is excessive underwriting losses versus low profits.

To qualify for the Premium Marine coverage, I had to submit a three page resume of my boating experience, which makes sense, but it all indicates a worrisome trend. The carriers that remain are leery of writing policies for small (<$1M) vessels and there isn't going to be a lot of choice.

Wow! That's a nightmare. We've never had a problem here with getting insurance. The only change in the last decade is a 5 year insurance value survey. In fact it's been every six years. That seems reasonable to me for a 60 year old boat. The value survey runs about 5-600 so that adds to the cost. My policy covers in the water for 6 months, on the hard the other six. 

There are no requirements for user experience but you can get a slight discount for instruction (from my carriers over the years in NE).

Clients of mine just bought a 60 year old wooden powerboat. They have no boating experience but insurance of the vessel was no problem.

This area is full of zillions of dollars of boats older than mine (mostly wood-mine is a glass hull), that are insured. There is too much money to be made for insurance companies. But they will adjust for nationwide claims on the rise, no doubt. Just more $$$ for them. 

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On 11/14/2021 at 6:01 PM, valis said:

Thanks, this is useful information that isn't contained in my Geico quote.  A deductible is mentioned, but there are no details.  I suppose I need to see the actual policy language.  My boat is 19 going on 20 years old, so that deductible may not be too bad now, but I would rather not have to quickly change carriers for this reason.

Yeah, I didn't figure this out until on a tip I took the time to read the actual policy. Not mentioned in the quote- and in my case, as an existing customer when Geico took over, this represented a significant change from prior year's coverage.  That's when I called to confirm that what I thought I was reading was real. It definitely prompted me to shop around. I'm in a very exposed slip, and worried about some nearby boat breaking loose or inbound debris doing serious harm. Probably their liability would cover damage, but I wonted to be insured for at least things I couldn't readily afford.  If you have a newer boat, or preferred to self-insure for damage, the policy might not be much of a factor.

I got the impression that Geico was very much looking at their marine policies through the lens of late model powerboats, fishing boats, trailerable boats, i.e. close analogues to cars when it comes to value & depreciation. 

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On 5/16/2021 at 7:25 PM, olaf hart said:

I am really only interested in liability insurance, own the boats and can pay for losses or damage myself.

Cant find any liability only policies down here any more.

Both boats have comprehensive insurance through a broker I have used for many years, requirements are getting tighter each year.
The latest boat can’t be insured for a mooring, has to be in a marina.

Do you own a home?  Is not a method I generally recommend ever because of what was outlined above(cheap policies and depreciation) but for liability only it's a good trick to add the boat to your home policy instead.   Cheapest option. 

They're cracking down on insurance in a big way the last couple years, and finally starting to insist surveyors are at least accredited.   

Wood boats are about the worst or custom built and glass over ply second(what I had).   I would have expected ferro but my last boat was a nightmare to get insurance.   Brokers warned me everyone was getting out of them but then one new one opened up.  

HUB insurance is my favorite, dolphin by far the least.  When I was in the trades dolphin fucked clients every which way they could.    

I found a broker through an insurance company who specializes in marine.  Big difference.   I paid 1200$ last year through Avant?  I think as the underwriter.   48' glass over ply, full coverage down to SAR and towing up to 5k.  

Tip if you can't find one, find a reputable local surveyor, get the survey and get their recommendation.    They often have cosy relationships with a broker or two. I did that and got the 1200$ full coverage.  The last broker got me liability only for 2k... Same boat.  

The other big one is some like dolphin are such a bitch to deal with that many shops will require payment in full from the owner then the owner can claim from insurance. So if you don't have a spare 30k lying around the place... 

Some like HUB are so pleasant to deal with that trades will bill directly less deductible.  That can make a big difference, between getting an excellent repair and getting nothing. 

 

https://www.hubinternational.com/en-CA/products/personal-insurance/boat-insurance/

 

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Had an interesting experience with the new (old) boat I bought a month or so ago. It is now 43 years old. I contacted Skipper's Plan which is the largest boat insurer in Canada. Had a good survey and 50 years of experience and had insured with SP for many years - and they turned me down. They didn't say but I assume it was the boat age. Eventually went with Hagerty who are best known for insuring classic cars, but they also do boats. I went from having an old boat to having a classic boat. The bizarre thing was both brokers use the same insurance company, Aviva.

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