#AskBoatTrader: Hurricane Insurance Q&A

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, Boat Trader sat down with Matt Anderson, President of Global Marine Insurance Agency to answer some frequently asked questions boat owners reached out to us with via email and on social media using #AskBoatTrader.

hurricane insurance
Following the aftermath of a devastating hurricane, it’s not uncommon for boaters to have many questions regarding their policy’s hurricane insurance. This photo shows a sailboat washed ashore by storm surge at Peacock Park in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood following Hurricane Irma in 2017.

Boat Trader: Are there expectations for when all damage will be reviewed from the storm?
Matt Anderson: “Once the adjusters are allowed in the area they will move from location to location to inspect the reported damages as they move throughout the affected area. CAT (Catastrophe) claims usually have teams that work on all the claims as most carriers will have multiple lines damages such as to homes, autos and businesses.”

BT: What if I can’t get to my boat to document damage for a couple days/weeks?
MA: “The carriers will do their best to get to the property to inspect it and determine if the loss is repairable and the cost.  The carriers send teams of staff to these areas and generally speaking the claims reporting is very efficient if the client is with a highly rated insurance carrier and a good agent.”

hurricane irma dinner key marina
Sailboats tossed into piers by storm surge at Dinner Key Marina in Miami, Fla.

BT: Do I need to hire a marine surveyor?
MA: “No, if the dollar value of the claim and complexity is high enough, the carrier will hire a marine surveyor to provide a damage estimate.  If there is still disagreement on the claim settlement after that between the insurance carrier and the client, then a third party may be hired as an arbitrator.”

BT: If I don’t have “full salvage coverage,” what happens if my boat is a total loss?
MA: “Salvage and wreck removal have different interpretations as follows:

For example, if a vessel at the dock sinks when a hurricane hits and needs to be salvaged (removed from the waterway) and is a CTL (Constructive Total Loss), the salvage costs gets paid for under the P & I (Protection & Indemnity) limits of the policy and the CTL gets paid for under the hull limit of coverage. Some marine insurance carriers do not offer salvage recover coverage as a separate coverage in their policy.  If that is the case,  then the salvage of the vessel cost comes out of the hull coverages limits (We, global marine, generally do not offer policies with this limited coverage, but those policies do still exist in the marketplace).”

“Removal Of Wreck (under liability coverage) is as follows:

‘We’ will pay for the removal or disposal of the wreck of an ‘insured boat ’if ‘you’ are legally obligated to do so, even if such attempts to remove the wreck fail.”

“Salvage rescue is a different sort of Salvage (vessel in distress) and is subject to the hull value limit.”

aftermath of hurricane irma
Destroyed sailboat at Grove Bay Grill (formerly Scotty’s Landing) at Dinner Key Marina in Miami, Fla.

BT: If my boat looks OK, can I still have a surveyor come inspect it?
MA: “You would have to report damage to your vessel to file a claim.”

BT: If my boat is OK, but another storm is approaching, will I be covered for costs to move my boat to a safer location?
MA: “Each Hurricane is a separate occurrence and precaution coverage would apply to each occurrence.  This coverage is called Hurricane Haulout coverage and is different by carrier but generally speaking will pay the costs up to a specified dollar amount per occurrence to haul your boat with a named storm approaching.”

BT: If repairs are needed, do you require estimates from several yards for approval?
MA: “No, one damage estimate from a reputable boat yard is sufficient.”

marina destroyed by hurricane
Catamaran that came loose and driven into one of the destroyed docks due to storm surge. Dinner Key Marina in Miami, Fla.

BT: Do policies cover the aftermarket products added to a boat? (grills, racks, lights, speakers, gauges, etc.)
MA: “Yes but only up to the coverage limits of the policy. Depending on the policy purchased, each carrier does offer different limits and limitations that is why it is important to read your policy at boat launch if seasonal, when a new boat and policy are purchased and at renewal.”

Members of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) gathered at the International Boatbuilders Exhibition and Conference (IBEX) in Tampa, Florida, for a special session regarding hurricane relief. A recap of the Sept. 20 session along with additional tips can be found here.

Don’t forget to check out our other hurricane resources:



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