Insurance Examples

A few days ago we started seriously searching for a new insurance policy because our old underwriters have quit the business. We are shopping with nine different insurance companies and been learning a lot. Reading through policy language is tedious, but important. Here are similar clauses from two insurance policies that we have been quoted:

We will not cover loss or damage due to: Wear and tear, gradual deterioration, inherent vice, corrosion, damage due to changes in humidity or temperature or mechanical or electrical failure.

Policy Number One

This insurance does not cover: any cost of repair or replacement of a part which fails directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, as a result of a latent defect in manufacture or construction; however, we will cover consequential property damage that results from such failure if not otherwise excluded;

Policy Number Two

Some complicated and legal language here. I am not a lawyer, and nothing here is to be taken as legal advice, but there are some very important things here you need to understand if you are shopping for policies.

The terms “inherent vice” and “latent defect” are very similar. Basically they describe a flaw in the design and/or construction of the vessel or its equipment that is not immediately apparent to a knowledgable person using normal tools.

Let’s imagine a scenario: There is an underwater fitting on your boat that has a casting flaw. It is not visible to the naked eye, or to any simple test method that might normally be employed. On a dark night, while tied to the dock, the fitting cracks, and the boat floods and sinks. When the boat is salvaged, and inspected the cause of the sinking is now easy to see. The fitting had an “inherent vice” or a “latent defect.”

The company that wrote Policy Number One says: “So Sorry. Not Covered.” Your boat just sank–though no fault of yours–and you get nothing, zip, zero, bupkis. The entire loss due to an “inherent vice” is not covered, period, full stop.

Think about this for a moment. This is exactly the kind of event that you THINK you are buying insurance for, and it is fully excluded from any payment by language that is unintelligible to the average boat owner. (You just read this, you aren’t average any more!)

Policy Number Two says: We will not pay to replace the broken fitting because it had an inherent defect, but we WILL cover the damages that are a CONSEQUENCE of the failure, i.e., the sinking and it’s associated costs.

Both policies are honest and straightforward about what they cover, but only a VERY educated consumer or lawyer might understand the difference. Which one would you rather have?

Oh, and Policy Number One is MORE expensive than Number Two. Go figure.

Here is another tricky one to watch for. Almost all marinas and boatyards require you to sign a contract that waives their responsibility for your boat. If you want to have your boat hauled you typically have little choice but to sign or walk.

Unfortunately many policies expressly forbid you from signing such a contract. Policy Number One has the following clause:

Ensure the yard and/or other contractors impose no contractual exclusion(s) or limitation(s) of liability, nor any waiver or other limitation(s) of our subrogated rights of recovery.

Policy Number One

Imagine you sign such a contract, your boat is being hauled, and the boatyard drops it. They refuse to accept responsibility for it, and send YOU the bill for removing the resulting wreck. The insurance company that wrote Policy Number One would then REFUSE your claim because you waived their right of recovery. Surprise! You have no boat, AND a huge bill to pay with a lawsuit against the boatyard as your only recourse.

In case you haven’t guessed by now, Policy Number One is off our list for consideration. That leaves eight!

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Keeping the engine ticking

We arrived here in Fort Lauderdale knowing we needed either a new or rebuilt transmission. That was as expected. Getting a new one was the cost effective thing to do. Of course, it’s a boat, so there is ALWAYS something else to do.

Removing the old transmission meant moving the engine a few inches aft. This was pretty easily accomplished with a small bottle jack. One of the things I found as I moved the engine was the bolts that held one of the mounting feet to the block were loose–very loose. That is not good at all. It is possible that the failure of the transmission seal was due to excess vibration from this cause. This wasn’t something on my routine check list, but if you learn from others, maybe you should add it to yours!

The engine installation on an Amel Super Maramu is totally different than on any other boat I have seen. The engine bolts to a galvanized steel frame, and that frame in turn rests on flexible engine mounts. That style of installation made this job really easy. No lifting of the engine, just an easy slide along the frame. Since the transmission was a like for like replacement, it was a very simple job just putting everything right back where it came from.

As part of the process, it was easy to pull the exhaust elbow and turbo charger for inspection. More fun… the exhaust elbow needed replacement, and the turbo needed rework.

We got a shiny new stainless steel exhaust elbow from HDI Marine. Not cheap, but half the cost of a cast iron one from Volvo. Everglades Diesel rebuilt our turbo, and that is good. Add a couple feet of new exhaust hose (at $40 a foot!) and Harmonie‘s intake and exhaust system are as good as new.

Today we got everything finally reconnected and bolted down where it should be, and fired things up again. Our old Volvo is running smooth and happy.

We are still working on the final details of the new window install. We are past the hard and messy parts of that job, and are on the tedious and time consuming bits. It is REALLY looking good!

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2019 Harmonie Service Awards

You will (almost!) never read here bad things about a business we have had dealings with. We prefer to say nothing if we have nothing good to say. On the other hand, there really are some great businesses out there who stand out from the crowd, and they deserve a bit of praise. None of the businesses on this list have given us any promotional consideration, they are just good outfits who did a good job for us. With that said, here are businesses we dealt with this year that we can wholeheartedly recommend, in no particular order:

P&S Yacht Services. http://www.psyachtservices.com

There are not a lot of people we would trust to cut our boat open like this…

Based in the yard at Lauderdale Marine Center, Silvio and his son John have been on our “A-List” for years. They work hard, they do excellent work, and their prices are fair. For painting, fiberglass, and miscellaneous boat detailing services these guys are first class. We are not their biggest customer, by any means, and we always try to be as flexible with scheduling as possible. In return they take very good care of us. Unlike many of the boat service companies we see, Silvio has a full-time, year-round, staff of knowledgeable regulars who work on our boat year after year.

Karen and “Rosey” Rosete (954)336-3711

Karen and her husband “Rosey” do free-lance varnish and paint work here in Fort Lauderdale. They tackled a delicate refinishing job for us and did a great job at a great price and, as an extra bonus, they are great people to deal with. If you have varnish or paint projects, call them!

Transmission Marine, Inc. http://marinegears.com

This is a business run the way businesses should be. When you call, a real live person answers the phone. They call back when promised. They have technical experts who know their stuff and take the time with you to actually help by phone and email. All that, and the price they gave us for our new transmission was at least 15% lower than any we could find.

If you need a new transmission, or any kind of part for your boat’s transmission or drive train they should be on your list to call first. If nothing else, visit their webpage for the best guide to how to properly align an engine and transmission you’ll find anywhere.

Everglades Diesel http://evergladesdiesel.com

There is a sign outside the front door telling you to leave your parts for service in the cart. I had never seen this before, but what the heck… they asked, so we dropped the bag with the turbocharger we brought for rebuilding in the cart, and walked in.

Once we got inside, it became obvious what was going on.


They do not want any of your greasy, dirty, engine parts in their shop! This place sparkles. Bright and clean–like doctor’s office clean. There is a shelf of rebuilt injection pumps and turbochargers waiting for customer pickup that looks like a row of surgical instruments.

The rest of the shop all looks like this. This is really something to look for when you want a shop to work on something as sensitive to dirt as a diesel injection pump.


Our turbocharger came back to us looking like a factory new part. Years of accumulated carbon and rust on the exhaust side were gone. The rotor spun on new bearings smooth and free. A factory quality paint job was the cherry on top.

It saved us a significant amount of money over a new part, and it should be good to go for years.df

The picture is of Joe with our rebuilt turbo. I offered to arm wrestle him for a discount, but he chickened out!

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Everybody Hates Insurance Companies…

We have had the same insurance brand for as long as we have owned Harmonie. Up until a few days ago, all was well. We sent them money and they… well… they took it promptly and efficiently. If you have been following, you know that we recently spent more than a month sitting up out of the water. TWO DAYS after we launched again, we get a notice from our insurance company that the underwriters of our policy were getting out of the boat insurance business, and any new underwriters would need a new out-of-water survey to get the policy reissued. Argh…

The only thing less fun than shopping for insurance is… hold on… I’ll think of it…

We have already had one salesman tell us that we should lie on our application to get a better rate. He’ll not getting a call back.

With the advance statement that I am not a lawyer, and the following is NOT legal advice….

Marine insurance is minefield of special legal terms, and words that mean something different than you might think. “Consequential Damages,” “Inherent Defect,” “Agreed Value,” “Salvage,” “Warranty of Seaworthiness” Without understanding terms like these, some of which appear in your policy, and some of which are “implied” legal standards, you are more than likely not going to have coverage that you actually think you are paying for.

Just as an example, my favorite is the “Implicit Warranty of Seaworthiness.” It doesn’t have to appear in your policy at all. In USA case law Federal courts have found it is “implied” to be part of the policy contract. Here is how it can work: Your boat has a serious fire that starts while cooking in the galley. You file a claim, with a totally reasonable expectation that it will be paid. The inspection process reveals that there is a serious flaw in the installation of a bilge pump hose–completely unrelated to the fire. Your claim can be denied because the boat was not maintained in a “seaworthy” state. Seriously. Oh, and if your boat sinks without an obvious external cause, that can be considered prima facia evidence that it was unseaworthy, sometimes called the “Calm, Sunny, Day Rule.” It is up to you to prove otherwise. Good luck with that.

It does seem to me reasonable for a claim to be denied if a lack of normal maintenance or good practice CAUSES a claim, but something totally unrelated to the claim really has no part in the equation of the payout, in my opinion. There are a few (very few!) policies that do explicitly waive a general warranty of seaworthiness. They are very much worth looking for. The alternative is having your insurance company crawl all over your boat after a claim looking for ANYTHING wrong that they can use to deny your claim.

It really is a minefield that even that legal creation a “reasonable person” has no chance of following without special knowledge and help.

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Back in the Water Again!

A wet morning launch

On a rainy morning the day before Christmas Eve, we got the Christmas present we were really wanting, and Harmonie was picked up and dropped back in the water.  We are not yet finished with the projects, by any means, but being in the water makes our lives a lot more comfortable.  Our air conditioners run, our sinks drain, our toilets flush, we can shower on board, we can cook.  Life is just way better…

We have been treated to visits from Bill’s sister and her family who coincidently are in Florida for a winter vacation. Also in town are our good friends from the Chesapeake area Aras and Vickers from the Amel Sharki, Fiasco. It has been great having breaks from the ongoing projects to have a socail life!

Our deck repairs came out beautifully. The mess of sanding and grinding and the hassle of outside workers crawling over our home is over.

We now have all the parts back in hand to finish the port light replacements. Everything is looking as good as we had hoped. Getting everything re-assembled is time consuming, but not nearly as difficult as the disassembly was.

The engine repairs are underway. In addition to replacing the transmission, it looks like we will also need to have the turbo charger rebuilt, but those aren’t huge time or dollar projects. Anything that improves the confidence we have in our old reliable drive engine is a good thing.

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Another Really Busy Maintenance Season.

Harmonie (like the rest of us) is getting older.  As she ages, she takes more maintenance and care to keep in good shape (like the rest of us!)  We have ended up with three major repair projects this season.  We have been sitting “on the hard” for a couple weeks now, and it looks like a few more.  It’s a more than a bit of a pain living on the boat on land. Dust and dirt are everywhere! But it will be over soon!

First Project, is our transmission. If you have been following closely, you might remember that we have been nursing along a small leak from the rear seal. Not surprisingly, it hasn’t gotten any better on its own.

The old transmission. Engine to the right, prop drive to the left.

\We have a standard ZF25M transmission (Not to be confused with a ZF25, which is a very different beast!) We found an excellent marine transmission shop here in Fort Lauderdale.  They confirmed my understanding that on this transmission replacing the rear seal requires virtually the entire unit to be disassembled.  As a matter of course, they replace all seals and bearings (as a minimum) when they have a unit apart.  

It would take about $1600 in mechanics time alone to get the unit apart and reassembled, plus a significant investment in parts. A new ZF25 is $2100.  That seems like an easy choice.  Replacing the transmission is not a technically difficult job, but there is the matter of removing old bolts, and physically moving the engine a few inches to get the coupling apart, and then getting everything aligned again. The coupling between the transmission and prop drive also has a reputation of being EXTREMELY difficult to remove.  That will keep me busy and out of trouble for a few days!  Buried in the bell housing between the flywheel and the transmission is the damping plate. Until the transmission is removed, we will not know exactly which part is there, and what it’s delivery time will be. The good news from this, is if we ever need a new engine, the new transmission can go along for the ride! We just got the news that the transmission is in stock locally, and can be delivered in a matter of days.

The big decision here is should we pull things apart while we are still high and dry?  or do we wait until we are back in the water?  If we run into a delay while things are apart, it would mean delaying our launch since we need the transmission to maneuver the boat to the dock….

Job Two has been the replacement of the ten fixed port lights in the cabin trunk.  Twenty-five years of tropical sun exposure left the acrylic lenses and the wood frames quite a bit worse for wear. 

An example of the sun crazing in the old acrylic portlights.

We are having new acrylic windows made at a local shop, and the wood refinished.  Although the appearance of the plastic in the windows was the initiating symptom for this project, it is being done “just in time” to save the wood from replacement. We we referred to a local refinisher who will be doing the interior varnish.  I don’t usually think of wood as suffering serious damage from sunlight, but it does! 

Sunlight has faded the interior trim has faded to a rainbow of colors…

The new windows, the refinished wood, and repainted trim on the exterior will have Harmonie looking better than the day we bought her  I am really hoping that the removal of the interior wood trim panels was the toughest part of this job!

Our last major project is a significant repair to the deck. Lots of cutting, grinding, and new fiberglass work outside, and a new hatch and interior trim. Our good buddies at P&S Yacht Services have been doing a great job with this, and we’ll have a lot more to write up about it when it is finished.

And all those things are in addition to the routine maintenance of bottom painting, bow thruster, and prop drive maintenance, and other routine stuff that needs doing on a regular basis.  

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We See Some of the Most Amazing Places…

Just to refresh… we have been looking for a part for Harmonie’s generator. This is a 25 year old Onan generator, and the manufacturer’s support for the model has effectively ended. In all of the USA there is ONE piece of the part we need, and at a price of about $2000 it might as well have been cast of solid gold. We have been pursing several other options for how and where to find one.

A local vendor we have used for various electrical motor services recommended that we talk to “Yachts and Diesels”. After several back and forth phone calls, they said they thought they might have one. Today we decided to pay them a visit and see.

The only word for this place is… No. There is no word for it.

We were told to talk to Tommy, he’d know. We tracked down Tommy, and described the part we wanted. Not only did he know exactly the part we wanted, for a generator which hasn’t been made for 20 years, but he knew exactly what it looked like. He said, “Follow me” and lead us off wandering the warehouse aisles looking for the generator that he could pull the part off. He was sure they had more than one. Somewhere.

Words can not describe this place. Racks 40 feet high full of engines, generators, miscellaneous boat parts, and unknown stuff. The only light comes from a few widely scattered skylights. The aisles are so clogged with stuff you have to turn sideways to squeeze through. Engines from tiny single cylinder putt-putts to huge 1000 horsepower 10 cylinder monsters that weigh more than a large SUV.

There are over a dozen rows like this…
It looks like the prop warehouse for a Mad Max movie!
And on… and on…

Finally, there it is! Right there! That’s the one!

Yep, right there.

Tommy disappeared for a while to get some tools, and 20 minutes later we had our part in hand, in almost like new condition. “That will be $75.”

If you are looking for an obsolete part for an engine or generator, these are the guys to call. If you are in Fort Lauderdale and you are any kind of gearhead, they are an entertaining place to see.

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