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26 February 2016

Boat Insurance {Or Silencing Your Inner Worry Wart}


Yes, I admit it, I can be a bit of a worry wart at times. I used to worry about pretty mundane things – like if my jeans made my bum look big or if I had enough change for the bus. Now that I live on a boat I worry about the really important stuff – like a lightening strike, getting smashed to smithereens in a hurricane and an alligator climbing into the cockpit of my boat and refusing to leave until I give him all of my chocolate. {Did anyone else just have a flashback to Elvis from Miami Vice?}

Lately, I’ve also been worrying about insurance for our boat and what kind of coverage we should get when our current policy expires in April.

When we bought our boat last year, we took out full insurance, which is known as hull coverage in nautical speak. We were under time pressures to get insurance in place before the sale closed, so I didn’t do much research on boat insurance in general or get a lot of quotes. I basically let my inner worry wart take over and got full coverage through a broker which had been recommended by fellow cruisers (IMIS). After transferring a relatively large sum of money into an escrow account, all I could think about was who was going to pay if we sunk our new-to-us boat the following week. My inner worry wart shouted out, Get insurance! As much of it as you can! So we did.

When we had our last boat in New Zealand, we only had liability insurance. I was totally fine with that as she was an older boat that wasn’t worth all that much money and we planned on selling her on in a couple of years anyway. If she sank, she sank. So be it, I told my inner worry wart. My inner worry wart shrugged her shoulders and went on to worry about more important things – like the fact that there was a distinct lack of paychecks coming into our bank account and the shortage of storage on our boat for adequate supplies of cookies and wine.

This time around, I’m beginning to think taking a liability only approach to insurance may be the way to go for two reasons: (1) our boat isn’t worth all that much in the grand scheme of things and (2) we’re cheapskates.

Our boat, Tickety Boo, is a 1987 Moody 346, a British blue water cruiser more commonly found in Europe. Moody 346s are older boats and are priced accordingly. So, when I started doing calculations on the the percentage of our insurance costs vs. what we would get back for the agreed hull value if Tickety Boo sank, it wasn’t all that encouraging. I was beginning to think that maybe it was worth the gamble to go without hull coverage. Strangely, my inner wart agreed. In fact, she was the one that reminded me that we still don’t have regular paychecks coming into our bank account, so maybe we should limit how much money goes out of our account.

When I told Scott I thought we should just get liability insurance this time around, he sounded surprised given my worry wart tendencies. He was all for it. After all, he might have opted not to get health insurance (you can read more about that here), so not getting full hull coverage for Tickety Boo seemed like a no brainer to him. {By the way, we did get health insurance. We could probably buy a lot of sailboats for what it would cost us to get a serious illness in the States if we were uninsured. Sad but true.}

So, for all of you boaters reading this (and let’s be honest, it probably only is boatie types that are still reading a post on boat insurance by this point), tell me what you know about liability insurance. What should I look for in a policy (like coverage amounts for fuel spill liability in the States)? Any recommendations on who I should get quotes from? And, have any of you decided to just go with liability only and why?

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20 comments:

  1. We also have a 1987 boat .. a Catalina 30. We pay just over $500 a year for liability and $20,000 coverage without a survey. Not too bad, but if you're gonna be in the boatyard a while may not need anything but liability.

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    1. Who do you have insurance with Cheryl? Assume the $20 is for hull coverage?

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  2. We have full coverage and it cost just under 1,000 per year. Our boat is a 2000 and although she is worth less and less each year it would cost quite a bit to replace her.

    We also need full coverage because our marina is on our insurance. If we have an issue then the marina doesn't have to deal with the cost of repairs. We're okay with what we have.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Thanks for sharing Sandee! Your boat it pretty slick looking so I imagine it would cost a bit to replace her.

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  3. I think it all boils down to what you feel comfortable with (for us, it's full coverage). We shopped around after moving up from New Zealand and ended up going with someone locally because they understood the area we would be cruising in, but most cruisers we asked highly recommended Boat US based on cost and customer service. It might also be worth your time to get quotes from the company that insures Scamper and/or your vehicle. Happy hunting!

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    1. I've heard good things about Boat US and have a quote from them. The liability only is pretty reasonable (around $500), but the hull coverage quote was a lot more than we're currently paying.

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  4. I've got full cover for NZ waters. I opted for a higher excess to keep the price of the insurance down. I've had a couple of claims. One when another. It's broke its mooring and smashed in to my boat in a storm. Broke my mooring too and they both ended up on the beach. Repairs were $10k for my boat. Plus I had to pay extra for someone to find my mooring again. No salvage costs as the coastguard towed her off. But potentially it could have been worse had she been wrecked or sunk in the beach plus the costs to remove her and potentially any cleanup from spilt diesel etc. could have been much worse.
    I also claimed once when the boat was broken in to and lots of gear stolen.
    Thankfully there was little damage from her most recent mooring breakage!! No insurance claim required and just a bottle of rum in salvage costs.
    I too hate paying for insurance. I'm sure I've paid more in premiums than I've ever claimed. But it's quite a nice thing to have when things go wrong.

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    1. The liability insurance I've been looking at covers you for oil spill etc. which can be quite costly if it happens in the States. $10k in repairs would be pretty hard to swallow - that's when you're glad you have full insurance.

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  5. I'd recommend Boat US. They came thru when my boat got washed ashore in the hurricane. No problem and no hassle.

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  6. We ended up using BoatUS for our Baba 30 and went with liability only. Been very pleased, no survey, sub $500 annually, satisfies our marina requirement.

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  7. I'm guessing that after that whole Kardashian thing women suddenly have much less to worry about.

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  8. We also got hull coverage, not to replace Cinderella if she sank, but for the more likely instance of repairing damage (storm, lightning strike, theft). We also-also have liveaboard insurance for our personal possessions, since virtually everything we own is on the boat. So far, by good seamanship and good luck, we haven't needed it.

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    1. How does the liveaboard insurance work? Is it an extra item on your boat insurance or a separate policy. That is something we should think about as most of our possessions are on our boat too.

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  9. I might also recommend Tow Boat US,if you don't already have some. With all the skinny water around here, if you don't go aground, you aren't doing it right.

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    1. We got Tow Boat US last year and we'll definitely be renewing it. This is one type of insurance that seems well worth it.

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  10. Our boat is a Nelson Marek 41. We insure through BoatUS, and we pay less than $900 a year for liability coverage (which includes fuel spills) and a hull replacement value of $20,000. Our marina requires $500,000 fuel spill liability coverage. Some require less. You can make some adjustments to your policy, and thus, your rates, depending on your marina's requirements.

    We did a self-survey and sent in photos of the boat per the company's specifications. They have been very friendly and easy to deal with. I highly recommend them.

    In addition, we have an umbrella policy for liability purposes. It appeases my inner worrywart.

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    1. Thanks for the info! The quote I got has a larger number for fuel spill liability - I think it's the federal maximum you have to pay, but not sure. Our survey is only a year old, so shouldn't be a problem for us this year if we want full hull coverage, but still not convinced that's the way to go for us this year. We'll see - we have until mid-April to sort it out.

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