Insurance and older boats

Some boaters are experiencing insurers turning them down for insurance coverage after submitting a survey report to the insurer. This is upsetting and frustrating to boats owners who have been happily using their boats for many years without much concern about upgrading the boats systems.

At a certain point insurers want some indication that the critical systems on older vessels,  such as fuel system hoses, ( vent , fill return and supply ), below the waterline hoses,  rudders,  masts and standing rigging to name a few critical items, have been replaced. These items do have a service life and it is not indefinite ….having seen some pretty poorly maintained boats I think thats fair.

The age insurers seem to be  using as a time limit now seems to be about 30 years. I recommend that boats older than that must be in very good or “above average” condition with evidence of ongoing maintenance and visible upgrades and little work required to be seen as a worthwhile risk for insurance coverage. This is the condition they need to be in before the “insurance” survey.

I say this to help avoid situations where the boater is “blindsided” by an insurers refusal to provide coverage after they view a survey with many items listed as “to dos” or recommendations.
Complaints are voiced that the nature of these recommendations are often not critical and should be viewed  with more tolerance on the insurers part. The discretion an insurer uses is often based on the history of the boats previous surveys….has the same recommendation now seen appeared on the last two previous survey reports? Is the situation being ignored by the boat owner? This seems to be at least part of the rational behind these decisions.

It therefore may now be a good idea to get the boat pre-inspected or pre surveyed to identify items that will be included as “recommendations” in a proper marine survey. The identified items can then be taken care of as part of planned ongoing maintenance. Marine contractors must be booked well in advance due to the declining supply of knowledgeable service people, this can mean booking over a year in advance for things such as rudder repairs and larger projects. Plans must be made well in advance to arrange for rudder removal for example; such as elevating the cradle at haul-out to allow for the rudder with shaft to be removed from the boat.
A competent surveyor can help you with these considerations to get the boat into “above average” condition and help ensure your boating stays safe and fun as it should be.

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