For some, owning a boat is a dream. From early mornings spent fishing to late nights on the water with friends and family, boats allow you the freedom to escape from it all and recharge your batteries at sea. But for others, boats are much more than just a hobby or pastime and are the workhorses that power businesses including fishing charters, marinas, dive schools, and so much more.
Regardless of why you own a boat, you need to have a marine insurance insurance policy to protect it in case something happens.
To make sure that you’re getting the best policy for you, we came up with this list of 10 questions that you need to ask your insurance agent about your marine insurance policy.
If you don’t already have a policy, be sure to ask these questions as you’re shopping around.
- Is my policy agreed value or actual cash value?Am I valuing my vessel accurately, and do you know how to help me with that?
Insider tip: Actual cash value means that your carrier would pay out the replacement cost minus depreciation, whereas agreed value means that coverage is provided for a pre-determined amount.
- Does my marine insurance policy meet my navigation needs?
Insider tip: Think about where you will realistically take your boat. Wider navigation usually costs more, but you can keep it tight and do trip endorsements at less cost.
- What is my hull deductible? Do I have a separate named storm deductible?
Am I required to haul out for named storms? Will insurance help pay for that?
Insider tip: You can save money by increasing your hull deductible, but only up to a point, so ask for options.
- Am I covered for mechanical, electrical, or structural breakdown?
Insider tip: This is a huge issue, ask about this specifically.
- Claims – what if I have a loss?
Does my carrier have a designated team available who specifically handles marine claims?
- How often do you shop my marine insurance policy coverage?
Is your survey up to date? When will my carrier ask for a new one, so I’m not surprised with the request and can do it next time I’m on the hill for regular maintenance?
Insider tip: You can shop every year, but loyalty still carries significant weight with marine insurance carriers. Leverage your agent’s knowledge in these situations.
- Is my policy permissive use or is it named operator?
Insider tip: Permissive use means that anyone can run the insured vessel with your permission, and named operator means that only those approved by the insurance carrier can run it.
- Did my carrier use an insurance score when rating me?
What was my score? If it’s not so good, can I be re-scored at renewal? Do you have carriers that don’t score?
- Is my liability coverage “enough” to meet my needs?
Do I have a liability umbrella policy that applies to my boat? If so, what are the underlying limits and does my boat policy meet them adequately?
- How many carriers do you directly represent that do marine? With how many will/can you shop?
The last question that you should ask isn’t for your insurance agent, but is something that you should ask yourself about your agent:
Are you comfortable with your insurance agent’s knowledge and experience with marine insurance policy language? You’re a boater – you’ll know the answer after some brief discussion with your agent about your particular risk. Here’s why this is especially important when dealing with marine insurance:
- Marine policies are like no others, and the industry is largely unregulated as far as policy language and rates go, so it can vary greatly between carriers.
- A good agent will help you not only save cost but protect you and your vessel over time. If you know you can call your agent in the middle of the night with a claim, and he/she can help you mitigate loss and strengthen your position in the claim process, that’s worth an awful lot. A good agent asks you many questions when quoting your risk, and rightfully so. If they understand you and your risk very well, then they can dial in a policy that reflects the nuances of your needs and offers you choice in product, price and coverage.
- Remember that cost isn’t everything. With marine insurance, you can pay more or less and get varying degrees of coverage. It’s important to keep cost in mind but be sure to ask enough questions to determine if you are getting the coverage that you really need.
If you have any questions about marine insurance, don’t hesitate to ask our seasoned guides!