Severe-Weather Fallout:
Rates Set To Rise

Published: January 2013

In the wake of an unprecedented number of weather-related claims in the past two years, CNA Insurance Group, the underwriter of the BoatUS insurance program, has been forced to reassess its pricing in all aspects of its business. The result will be rate increases for BoatUS policyholders over the coming year. CNA and BoatUS remain committed to the boating market, and more importantly, to boaters. We will continue to bring you peace of mind and partner with you to protect your boat.

With the focus on Superstorm Sandy, it can be easy to forget the other weather events that made big headlines over the past couple of years. Taken together, these extreme-weather events affect every state in the country and every boating area from inland lakes to coastal waters. All of the following have contributed to the decision to increase rates:

  • Snowstorms. Many areas experienced record snowfall amounts over the winters of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. In February of 2010, an unprecedented 49 out of 50 states had snow on the ground (all except Hawaii). Between February 6 and February 12, 2010, 1,180 snowfall records were set all across the country. In 2010, BoatUS had to deploy CAT teams to deal with marina disasters due to sheds collapsing under the snow load.
  • Windstorms. Unlike hurricanes, tornadoes and derechos come with almost no warning, so there is very little people can do to protect their boats. In 2011 there were 1,692 tornadoes, the second highest total since the start of recordkeeping in 1950. This extraordinary activity extended into 2012. On March 23, 319 tornadoes struck across the Midwest in a single day, a new record. The BoatUS CAT teams have worked at marinas in Louisiana and Tennessee to deal with tornado damage. The unusual tornado activity only ended when a ridge of warm air set up over the Midwest, but that did not prevent a string of violent thunderstorms, termed a "super derecho" by meteorologists, from leaving a 700-mile trail of destruction across the Midwest and mid-Atlantic in late June, cutting power to millions and killing 13 people.
  • Drought. The warm air that ended the tornado activity brought drought to dozens of states, dropping water levels on inland lakes to unprecedented lows. Claims for groundings and striking submerged objects skyrocketed, increasing by more than 50 percent in the Great Lakes alone. The drought is forecast to continue in the Southern and Midwestern states for the foreseeable future and to affect water levels next summer on many inland lakes.
U.S. Drought Map

Superstorm Sandy comes a bit more than a year after Hurricane Irene lashed the Northeast. This latest extreme event resulted in an estimated $650 million in recreational boat losses, making it the most destructive storm ever for boats.

After similar high-loss periods in the past — in the wake of Hurricane Andrew and after the rash of hurricanes in the mid-2000s, for example — the boat insurance market changed dramatically. Some companies stopped insuring boats all together. Others canceled policies mid-period for entire categories of boat owners and large geographical areas.

You can be sure that BoatUS won’t stop insuring boats. Our members are boat owners, our business is boats, and we are boaters, too. Not only will we remain committed to providing the best boat insurance in the market, but when disaster strikes, our CAT teams will be on the ground, using their years of experience to do what can be done for your boat so you can focus on your family and your home.

We regret the necessity for rate increases, especially in these hard economic times. If, when you receive your renewal, you find the rate increase an unbearable burden, please contact one of our underwriters. They may be able to lower the premium by adjusting your coverage to better match your risks. Those with older boats that are not financed may want to consider a "liability only" policy, which does not cover the boat and engine but would provide full liability coverage, including salvage and wreck removal.

We appreciate your confidence in us and hope we can continue to serve your boat insurance needs.End of story marker



To comment on this article, please contact Seaworthy@BoatUS.com