Marlin asked Capt. Skip Smith of Smith Merritt Insurance to share some ways to make the purchase of a good insurance policy for a sport-fisher a less expensive and hassle-free proposition. Luckily for us, he came up with 10 great tips for navigating the rocky shoreline of boat insurance.
1. Use an experienced yacht insurance agent, not an auto or homeowners insurance agent. Seasoned marine-insurance professionals can explain the differences in the policies and advise you on which companies offer the best claim service.
2. Try to find an agent who knows your risk. There will be less chance of coverage being overlooked, and the agent can help you identify various exposures, such as crew, navigation, manufacturer’s defect and more.
3. Remember that you are paying for a claim that you hope won’t happen. It isn’t just a bunch of paper to shove in a drawer or show to your dockmaster.
4. Select an insurance company you trust and are familiar with — even if it costs a couple of extra dollars (Travelers, Chubb, ACE, XL, AIG, to name a few).
5. If you have an older boat, ask your agent when you need to have another survey performed. Do this before you haul your boat for the yearly bottom job. This can save you money.
6. Ask your agent to disclose all competitive quotes received when shopping your renewal.
7. Consider asking for an alternate quote with a higher deductible to see if the savings are worth it.
8. Always report any possible claim to your agent immediately after an incident happens! You can always withdraw a claim and not have it count against you upon renewal.
9. In the event of a claim, take pictures of all of the damage and keep a log of the sequence of events that took place before, during and after the incident.
10. Most specialty yacht insurance agents utilize the same insurance companies actively writing yacht policies. Pick an agent or two and let those agents work to find you the most comprehensive coverage at a competitive rate.