by Todd Powell, PNW Fleet
Insurance! Everyone’s favorite subject, the pinnacle of action and excitement…or maybe not. While insurance is a critical item, most of us spend as little time as possible on the topic. These past few months, Mike O’Brien (Canadian Fleet), Ted Crosby (USA Fleet), Scott Andrews (NoCal Fleet), Rick Olson (SoCal Fleet) and myself (PNW Fleet) spent some time digging into the status of insurance for our Classics so you would not have to. After some polling of membership as well as talking with folks in the industry, we discovered the following:
Insurance is available. Canada seems to be having the most difficulty with availability overall, with 71% of respondents reporting that they have had challenges obtaining satisfactory insurance. A few even had their insurance cancelled and had to seek coverage elsewhere. Southern California is at the other end of the spectrum with no one reporting any difficulties at this time. The other fleets all fall in between these two extremes.
However, while insurance may be available, there have also been some changes in requirements and costs that we need to be aware of. What follows is not a comprehensive list but rather, the most repeated items we’ve heard about from our membership and industry sources. And even though your current provider might not be asking you for these items, that may change and it is best to be prepared.
Structural Survey- Most of us are familiar with the initial out of water survey required to bind coverage for a new purchase, but there is an increased frequency of out of water surveys required to maintain coverage. Here in the PNW some members reported a 3-5 year frequency requested by their provider.
Fastener inspection-this now seems to be almost a “must have” for hull insurance. If you’re going for liability only, it does not appear to be as critical. Originally this was more common at point of purchase, but it has now crept into the ongoing requirements.
“Boating Resume”- This applies to folks who are new to boating or are making a significant jump up in size. Basically, the provider wants to know if you can drive the boat. You may need to prove you have experience or agree to take instruction from a licensed captain within a certain time period after purchase. A side note, this is not specific to wooden vessels but to all vessels.
Costs-This one was a bit more erratic. We had member reports ranging from 0%-20% increase in premiums in the past few years. What was more interesting was that two members with the same provider reported very different amounts of increase. This is an area that will require continued observation to try and understand.
Another question is “Who is doing the insuring?” We found that a variety of insurers are covering our boats. Of the 46 fleet members who gave us the name of their insurance company there were 13 different providers given. That being said, the most common insurers of our small data group were Hagerty (10) and Markel (9).
Where do we go from here? Obviously, the insurance industry will continue to change, probably slowly, as time marches on. Our vessels will continue to age and with that may come additional costs and/or requirements as we have seen play out in the last few years. Our recommendation is to develop a relationship with a broker or an agent and to check in with that person at least annually. Find out what their provider(s) are doing or not doing so that you will not be surprised with a “sudden” request. Perhaps at your next haul out, have your fasteners inspected, a letter written by the inspector and toss it in your file ready to be produced if asked.
We are working on getting a list of insurance providers, brokers and agents up on the website for your reference. This will not be a recommendation, just information so that you can see who insures at least some of the members of our club.
And if you haven’t reviewed your insurance coverage in that last decade? You might want to dust it off and give it a quick scan…