Navigate Policy Waters to Get Boat Owners the Right Type of Coverage

By | February 24, 2008

Boats are not just luxury items for the rich, but they are also items that families with less than extravagant incomes can enjoy together away from the distractions of everyday life. Whether the boat owner is wealthy, or a middle class family, their boat is a significant investment that needs to be protected with proper insurance coverage. This is especially pertinent as the economy seems to be slowing and people have less money to spend on unexpected repairs in the unfortunate event that a loss occurs.

One might think auto and boat coverage would be quite similar, but coverages, price, and services offered by insurance carriers vary widely. Boat owners must be guided to understand the nuances of coverages. Deciding on the correct policy is even more important if the boat is in a part of the country with a short season so when a claim is filed, the boater can quickly get back in the water. Possessing the right insurance coverage with a carrier that provides excellent claim service could be the difference in having a great summer on the water, or staying on the dock wishing their boat was seaworthy.

Carefully considering coverage options, services provided, the financial stability and insurance capabilities of the carrier and pricing can help ensure peace of mind for boaters all year long.

Coverage

There are several coverage options available to meet the varying needs of boaters based on navigational territories, the boat’s operator and the vessel that’s being covered. The first decision is choosing the right type of policy — actual cash value or agreed value. Actual cash value represents the boat’s worth based on depreciation, and the agreed value policy is an agreed upon amount established with the insurer.

Other important options revolve around a boat or yacht owners’ boating needs like water sport liability coverage, navigational territories, and the lay up period. The ability to operate a boat in a broad navigational territory and possess a lay up period that meets with the boating off season is a must. Without understanding where and when they can operate the boat, a boater could mistakenly use their boat in the wrong area or on a warm winter day without being covered.

Additional options to take into account include exclusions related to ice and freezing, fishing equipment, mechanical breakdowns, wreck removal, as well as paying for environmental issues such as fuel spills.

Service

Does the carrier send auto adjusters to review a claim, or are the adjusters marine experts dedicated to boaters?

When any claim is filed, the insured expects that everything is handled expeditiously by claim adjusters that are experts in their field. Boaters are no different. Marine experts staffed by the insurance carrier understand the risks associated with this exciting hobby. Carriers possessing highly trained and experienced marine experts make a major impact in streamlining the claim process, repairing a vessel and speaking intelligently with the boat owner. People that understand boats and their owners will help enhance customer service and efficiently help these individuals get back to something they truly enjoy. It’s vital to help a boater find comfort in a company that will care for the boat as if it were their own.

Price

Insurance carriers typically offer several options for the cost conscious buyer. Common discounts are available if the boat or yacht owner has safety equipment on board, such as fire extinguishers. Participating in boater education classes and understanding proper boating techniques can help save on premiums. Multiple policy discounts are also obtainable from some carriers. Once the policy has been structured, the insured can choose which payment option will work best for them. Payment arrangements through electronic funds transfer (EFT), the ability to make payments online, over the phone or by check only helps to improve the insurance experience by providing options that enable the customer to choose their preferred payment method.

Capabilities, Financial Stability

Will the chosen carrier be able to assist all customers during a critical time, when it’s needed most? A carrier’s financial position should be strong enough so that all claims can be settled appropriately and quickly. As needs change through new and upgraded boating equipment, the insurance company should be able to adjust as well. This is an important consideration when researching providers. It’s best to work with carriers that are able to cover wide ranges of boats starting with boats valued in the low thousands to more than a million dollars. That way as a boater upgrades to larger, more valuable boats, they can stay with the insurance carrier that’s familiar.

Whether it’s a boat or a yacht, purchasing either is a significant investment that must be fully protected. Deciding on a company that provides insurance coverage on the boat or yacht is as important as deciding on which boat meets all of the needs of the family.

About Chantal Cyr

Chantal Cyr, vice president, Travelers’ Boat and Yacht Division - Chantal joined Travelers in 1986 and has more than 12 years of experience in the marine industry. More from Chantal Cyr

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