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An informal survey regarding marine insurance companies

January 1 2016 at 12:11 PM
Paul  (no login)

I am curious what companies our readership thinks are good to deal with from the "Classic fiberglass boat point of view".

Also, any difficulties with various insurance companies would be something of interest here too, as we need to share our experiences good and bad, so others can see the info and make their own informed decisions.

Since we have multiple buildings and cars, and boats too, I elected to just include the boats under our same insurance company (State Farm) and thankfully all I do is pay the premium and I have very rarely ever had to call for a claim of any kind. At the time I included the 38 Commander they advised that I could get a discount if I took "the safe boating test" and I did so and off we went.


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(Login 427Cuda)

Boat insurance is wacky

January 5 2016, 7:56 AM 

We have a few boats ranging from 1962 to 2003. I have State Farm on the house and a 1980's boat, but they won't insure a boat from the 60's and were very expensive on the 2003 ski boat. We went with SkiSafe on that one. I don't know where their cut off point is on old boats they won't insure. Progressive will do stated value on older fiberglass boats and their rates seem very reasonable. I have no experience collecting for a loss, but have been told by my agent you better have support for the stated value amount. Bottom line is you have to price around because it doesn't seem to matter how good of customer you are with your insurance company, when it comes to old boats a lot of them aren't interested in the business and prices are all over the place.

Also, some companies like Progressive will raise you boat policy rates if you have a traffic violation, even if its your 1st one in 20 years and minor like a right turn violation. They check your driving record when you apply for coverage or make any change to your policy at a later date.

This message has been edited by 427Cuda on Jan 5, 2016 8:00 AM

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Max Miller
(Login seaskiff1961)

Re: Boat insurance is wacky

January 5 2016, 10:42 AM 

I like you had State Farm on everything, but two years ago when I tried adding my trailer to my 2011 pontoon, they wouldn't, I then switched to boat us agreed value insurance, saved me about 50.00 a year and added a lot of other protections that a "normal" insurance company doesn't have, as far as salvage, towing, and high environmental clean up. So far I have been very happy with them and their rates. However for my 1964 Correct Craft, and my Sea Skiff I chose Hagerty because they would agree value a lot closer to "replacement" cast than boat us. I know that replacement cost should mean how much we pay, but with these boats and their limited build numbers, let alone how many survivors are available I think replacement value is a good thing.


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Eric Jensen
(no login)

Had some some experience here

January 5 2016, 11:24 AM 

I used Travelers for 2 years on my 38' Hatt. This was the most expedient way I could get coverage and I was able to work with an Agent I knew well and who covered my business insurance needs. As you learn in Insurance 101, what you you really SHOULD insure first is an event which is unlikely yet has significant costs. The event which probably best represents this type of exposure in boating is an environmental damage claim. Think about a leaking gas tank or a bilge pump pumping out enough oil to create an environmental hazard. In fact, all it takes to be in violation is the creation of a "sheen" on the water. You never know how someone might react to a sheen radiating out from your boat. That person only needs to call the CG or even 911 and you may be swarmed by a flotilla of responders. If they do respond and they do see a sheen, it won't be long before oil booms and pillows are deployed around your precious antique boat. IT'S WHAT THEY DO. If they feel you are at fault - and they have considerable freedom to make this call - you might be on the hook for the remediation action and believe me, it can add up fast. Less likely but still possible, is a sinking situation. If your boat goes down, or breaks up on the rocks, you will have environmental responders on the site. I'm not trying to alarm anyone, but.... stuff happens. Besides the remediation expenses, you may find yourself in court, and if there's one thing more expensive than bureaucratic environmental response teams, it's lawyers. When I looked at that section on my policy, I saw a maximum coverage of $2500.00. I investigated the possibility of increasing this coverage, but there was no upgrade path. My recommendation here is CHECK YOUR POLICY.

My solution was to switch to BoatUS. This involved another Hull Condition and Value Survey. I got the survey done for 400 bucks and saved the difference in premium in 2 years. I now have a $250,000.00 environmental coverage. BoatUS is knowledgeable about boat insurance and they are not afraid to insure a 45 year old boat. Admittedly, I have not made a claim, so there's no personal experience with their claims department, but I know several people who have had claims and their experience has been quite good.

I had a slightly different situation when I insured my 23 Lancer. I purchased the boat for 700 bucks. Then over the next 3 years found that I had about $10,000.00 "invested" in the boat. ("spent is closer to the truth than "invested" but you know how that goes) My homeowners policy would still only insure the boat for the original 700 dollar investment. So again... I paid for another survey and BoatUS issued a policy for a $10,000 hull value. It took a few years to recover the survey cost in reduced premiums, but the survey will also have value when the boat is eventually sold.

I have a friend who used Hagarty Insurance because he didn't even realize that BoatUS was an option. He had a claim which was not his fault and which was well documented and witnessed. Below are all the good things that he had to say about their response.



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Dave Krugler
(Login dkrugler)

Boat US for me...

January 5 2016, 9:37 PM 

My late father was a boater and swore by Boat US. I had cars insured by State Farm and went to them for coverage on my first boat, a 1969 19ft Sea Ray Pachanga which was a 19ft offshore type boat with a 350 Chevy truck block and Corvette high compression heads sitting in front of and old Merc II I/O drive unit and transom exhaust. That boat had seen better days by the time I got it but I did my best to fix it up and had some fun with. One time I was hauling up north and stopped late in the day at Jerry's Marina on Tawas Point on Lake Huron and splashed it for a nostalgia run across Tawas Bay. I was having fun with it until I suddenly realized I'd forgotten my aids to navigation and strayed well inside buoys 4 and 2 that were intended to keep idiots like me off the sandbar along Tawas Point. All of a sudden the boat began to shudder violently while I dragged the outdrive across the sand bar at about 3,500 rpm and 35 MPH! By the time I realized what I had done the drive was half way up and while I managed to limp back to the ramp was severely damaged. I took it back home and eventually to Precision Marine in Detroit to try to get it repaired. I got the good news that I had destroyed the upper pinion gears and sent shrapnel to all the bearings in the lower gear case, estimate in 1981- $1800.00. I filed an underwater machinery damage with State Farm and when they talked to Precision Marine they denied the claim stating I never hit anything, the drive just wore out. I fought with them and threatened to take them to court. The finally agreed to having the gears inspected by a metallurgist in Algonac who stated emphatically the damage was impact damage from grounding, not a case of wear out. But State Farm had the last laugh because they promptly pro-rated the repair on a 15yr depreciation basis. Since the boat was 12 years old they gave me 3/15's of their discounted fair value repairs and issued a check for $300 to me. I promptly cancelled all my insurances with State Farm and moved to Ford group insurance on the car and sold the boat after fixing it. My next boat was a brand new 1995 Four Winns Sundowner 195 which I bought from King Marine in St. Clair Shores and insured with Boat US. They've had my boat insurance ever since. When I restored the Chris Craft I paid Boat US an extra $100 premium and got an "Agreed Value" policy on it for $25,000 to cover my butt after restoring it for a couple of years. I paid around $600/yr. for the insurance which also covered it for $300k on the water liability and freeze damage. In all fairness I never had a claim with Boat US but I'm told they will stand behind their customer in case bad things happen. They have the policy on my Boston Whaler now.


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Ooops, forgot to post my name
(no login)

Boat us also

January 6 2016, 7:48 AM 

I originally chose boat us from my fathers experiences in the past. I like for the old boats (1978)an agreed upon hull value. ( not replacement cost) If it sinks and total loss I get my investment back. The boat will never worth that much, insured for roughly 2x market value. I like the fuel spill, Freezing coverage, insured and under insured boater. Boat had these item in there policies before anyone else ever did.

Had a claim from a grounding last year. Had to repair props and transducer right before a boat vacation. I would not wait for the inspector that was 2 weeks out. Repaired and launched in 4 days, took a lot of pictures and hoped for the best. To my pleasant surprise after forwarding all photos the insurance company paid the bill. It may have been that I did all the work and they knew the bill should have been 3x the price. $2300 paid. 1978 cc 42' sportfisherman. I also had a 0 deductible .

My father has boat us and hard grounding 2 years a go 32k all covered by boat us, 46'. It included shafts, struts, rudders, crack in floor, tabbing repair, alignment, impellers. No hassles. On a previous boat years ago his boat was struck by lighting and took out all electronics, ac units, through hulls, and a bunch of electrical items. He had top of the line when they were installed 15 years prior. The upgraded him to top of the line for the time period for the lightning strike. over 100k all paid no hassles.

I don't know about pricing. I don't care about it for the most part, how much can you save? Or when it happens to you how much will you loose from and insurance company that wont pay.
My opinion use boat us.

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(no login)

my name

January 6 2016, 8:55 AM 

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Dave Krugler
(Login dkrugler)

Some other reasons I like Boat US

January 6 2016, 9:47 AM 

I've found Boat US to be very pro-active on political action on behalf of boaters. They routinely send heads-up e-mails when something on the political or legislative front needs attention often sending form letters to conveniently pass onto our local legislators in support of pro-boating issues. One of their absolute crusades is keeping the ethanol content under control. Their Seaworthy magazine has lots of articles on boater safety including fire and electrical shock hazards. They also have lots of seamanship articles. They live in a different world than the car/home insurers...


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(Premier Login FEfinaticP)

Some very good hands-on commentary

September 26 2017, 6:18 AM 

I think there are so many people paying insurance costs that really have no idea what they really have regarding coverage


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Mike G
(no login)

Boat US

September 26 2017, 9:06 AM 

Boat US was by far the easiest and most reasonable for me on my 1967 38 CCC and 1976 26 Pacemaker.
Only a self survey and some images were needed on the Pacemaker.

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Dick T
(no login)

Home policy

September 26 2017, 9:08 AM 

My 1976 Coho is on my home policy. Was damaged when dock roof collapsed on boat due to heavy snow. Insurer wanted to total boat but couldn't find comps on value. They paid $23k for repairs. If home policy will cover boat, by far least expensive option. They will not cover my 45' Californian in Florida.

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