We are having had soooo much fun with boat insurance. We are learning a lot, and are rapidly weeding out policies based on what we are learning about insurance companies, their policies, and their brokers. Not a lot of what we are learning is pretty.
Most marine insurance policies are treated as “warranty” policies. Some of the warranties are explicit. For example, the person buying the insurance “warrantees” that all the information supplied on the application is true, and remains true for the duration of the policy. Other types of warranty are “implicit” and are not part of your policy or application, but have been found by the Federal Admiralty Courts to apply to marine insurance as a matter of law without being spelled out in words. For example the “Warranty of Seaworthiness” means the boat is maintained in a condition of seaworthiness suitable for the waters she normally sails in. If not, the policy is void for all losses.
Our most recent learning has been about the way your “home port” and your “cruising region” are treated. You would think that if your policy specified a “cruising region” from Georgia to Maine, and listed a home port of Annapolis, Maryland you would be covered anywhere from Maine to Georgia. Well… yes, and no.
The secret catch is that some parts of your policy are priced based on your home port. For example, the risk of hurricane damage. Although it is nowhere stated in the policy, the assumption is that you are covered for a “named storm” ONLY at the home port described in your storm plan. One of the things you implicitly warrantied was that you would be there during a storm. Did you know that? If not…Surprise! If you are in Maine, and the storm plan you filed with your insurance company lists Annapolis as your home port… you might NOT be covered in Maine for storm damage.
If you are in Maine and a storm approaches, you can call and update your storm plan, and have them reprice your policy for your new location. That’s an option. IF they approve your new storm plan and IF they give you a fair price as the storm approaches…
For 99.9% of all boats the concept of the “home port” isn’t a big deal or a serious limitation. Few boats ever travel far enough from their home dock that they risk getting “caught out” by a named storm, so it’s not an issue. For the tiny fraction of boats like us without a “fixed address” who can’t really predict where we will be when, the whole thing is highly problematic.
Not all polices work this way. Our old policy did not, and so far we have found ONE policy that is written in a way that seems to be about right for us. There is more coming. Hopefully we can sort all this out by the end of the month.
We did get a Surprise! of our own yesterday. At 4:59 PM (on Friday!) the office here at LMC sent an email telling us that they were going to be dredging the east basin of the yard (where we are docked) and we had to move by February 14th. Move as in, “Go away, we have no room for you–anywhere.” Karen has appealed, and gotten our case on the agenda for the Monday planning meeting. The primary issue here for us is that our rigging contractor has promised February 14th as our “done” date for that major project. The expectation that this happens 100% on time seems to be unduly optimistic. As much as we want to leave here, we had hoped that it would be on our choice of days…
In any event, we’ll figure it out…
We continue to make project progress, although it does seem that we add two new for every “Done” we cross off the list, but that’s a boat.
Thank you for posting your travails with boat insurance. Please continue writing on this. We just purchased a policy from Progressive; we selected an optional a provision to allow travel to the Bahamas in addition to USA and Canada. But, when the policy arrived there was a stipulation that limited time in the Bahamas to 30 days before returning to US waters. They should have stated “30 day limit” on the application. So this policy is worthless to us. I have to find another policy. I want a policy that covers cruising in the USA, Bahamas and Caribbean without time limitation.
I have been thinking you haven’t written because you are having too much fun in the Carib to bother. Oh, boy was I wrong! Sorry to hear about your insurance probs and potential eviction for dredging. Here’s hoping you turn it all around with minimal fuss (hoisting a white wine now) and get after the fun again.