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Offshore Boat Insurance

By The Ithaka - Published December 30, 2006 - Viewed 14695 times

Offshore Boat Insurance

Jack and Marla M., of Grand Rapids, Michigan, wrote to tell us that they're about one year from their cruising departure on their Manta 40 cat, and they wanted information about boat insurance. Many people lately have emailed us to ask if we have boat insurance and, if so, what kind, and this topic also is a frequent discussion among cruisers out here in the field.

From Bernadette: We do have insurance for Ithaka. First, we had BOAT/US insurance while we were in the US, and always had excellent service from them, at the most competitive rates. (We also have their full towing insurance - a must for the ICW.) Unfortunately, BOAT/US didn't offer insurance for bluewater cruising, so as we sailed down the east coast, and got ready to head out to Central America, we had to look elsewhere for that coverage. This ended up on my list of chores so I got quotes from several reputable companies that had been written up in Cruising World, as well as a couple of companies recommended to us by cruising friends. All the companies we called were agents (underwriters) of Lloyds Of London. We ended up going with World Marine Underwriters in Dana, Florida, who gave us the most competitive price, had no problem including unlimited time in Cuba in the package, and was always efficient and friendly about returning our phone calls. We paid the one-year premium and set off. A few months later, however, we became intrigued with the idea of spending some time in the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. I called World Marine to find out about adding this to our "navigation limits," they called Lloyd's, and it was rejected for coverage, leaving us with a dilemma.

Fortunately, some cruising friends we'd met out here told us that they'd just gotten full Lloyd's insurance that included leaving their boat in the protection of the Rio Dulce for hurricane season. We called our friends' agent, Derick Brundick at Able Maritime Yacht Insurance in Jacksonville, Florida, who turned out to be one of the most professional, efficient, pleasant men with whom I've ever done business. He has an intricate knowledge of the different insurance syndicates under the vast Lloyd's umbrella, and which one to call about what, so that he gets the answers he wants for his cruising clients. On top of that, when he knows you're a cruiser, and you're calling long-distance from a pay phone, he seems to drop whatever he's on and takes your call immediately. Literally, within days, Derrick had gotten us approved for "Lloyd's unlimited navigational coverage" (which includes the Rio during hurricane season), we'd received a fax copy of the binder from him at Able, and we officially cancelled our policy with World Marine (with our thanks). World said they'd send a full return of our unused premium within the week, which they did. Now we have unlimited coverage through Able for a year, which means we can leave Ithaka wherever we want to leave her for hurricane season, for about the same price.

NOTE: Since that response was written, we decided we wanted to go to Cartagena, Colombia. Unfortunately, Able could not get coverage for us, so I called and emailed around, and was able to secure coverage from Bluewater Insurance. We cancelled our Able policy, sadly, and bought the Bluewater policy.

As you can see, you must call around and see who will give you the best coverage for where you want to go. Also, since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, many insurance companies have tightened their requirements for coverage. For example, Able will now only cover boats valued at more than $200,000, which takes Ithaka out of the running.

Now that we are back in the States for a few months during the winter of 2004, coverage is not a problem. However, as we prepare to set off again in the summer, we'll be calling two new companies that have gained in reputation among cruisers, and we'll be asking for quotes: Jackline and Pantaenius. We've heard on the cruising grapevine that these two companies are offering some of the best coverage at the best prices. We'll write about what we learn in future installments of the Log Of Ithaka on www.BoatUS.com.

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