Top Hurricane Claims of 2017: Learn From the Past and Prepare for the Future

Aerial view of Hurricane Frances

Florida boat owners: This blog contains the most valuable advice you’ll read before the 2018 hurricane season begins. Learn from the top hurricane claims of 2017. Protect your marine investment. And should history repeat itself and massive storms fill the forecast, know that you and your vessel are secure.

According to Insurance Journal, hurricane claims were so high in 2017 that many major insurers issued profit loss warnings. For boat owners, this means plenty of damages were filed. There is a silver lining in this news. Irma and Harvey taught us all a valuable lesson: We must pay attention to the scope and depth of our marine coverage. Boat owners, your marine insurance policy is a vital element of your storm preparedness plan.

Here are the top hurricane claims of 2017 and what you should learn from them:

Physical Damage Coverage

Have you elected physical damage coverage, also known as hull coverage? If not, put it as number one on your hurricane preparedness priority list.

Beware, boat owners who elect liability coverage only. High winds and flying debris from storms caused major damage to boats in 2017. If you opt to not purchase hull coverage, you may end up paying more to repair your vessel. Additionally, you will not have recompense for salvage expenses. This leads us to the next large hurricane claim category.

Salvage Claims After a Hurricane

Vessels submerged due to storm surge have to be recovered somehow, and many boat owners made a costly mistake in 2017. Though some followed the protocol outlined by their individual marine policies, others hastily signed contracts with marine salvage companies as soon as the storm dissipated. It’s understandable that they were eager to recover their boats as soon as possible, but this is a costly mistake.

Salvage service is expensive, and providers need to be approved by your insurance carrier. If salvage services are necessary and time permits, check first with your insurer.

Hurricane Haul-Out Coverage

Many policies allow for some reimbursement if you have your boat moved by professionals or haul out your vessel at a marina facility. This is called ‘hurricane haul-out protection,’ and it usually reimburses the insured 50% of expenses up to a specified limit. Hurricane haul-out coverage customarily goes into effect if NOAA issues a hurricane watch or warning for the location where the boat is being stored.

Avoid the need for salvage altogether by accessing this benefit – and prepare that vessel for future inclement weather.

Named Storm Deductible

Another great way to prepare for hurricane season is to check your named storm deductible (NSD). Many marine policies contain up to a 10% NSD derived from the vessel’s agreed value. Some even offer partial reimbursement if you implement a hurricane haul out plan to mitigate vessel damage. That proactivity means there will be no need for a hull damage claim – and you will save a significant amount of money.

Hurricanes and Marine Insurance Claims

The two major takeaways from the 2017 Florida marine insurance claims list are to purchase adequate insurance and have a means to secure your vessel. Make a hurricane plan now for your vessel- and follow through with it. A Florida marine insurance agent with access to a variety of markets is the best advisor as you prepare for the 2018 hurricane season.

We all hope that this year is quiet compared to the 2017 maelstrom. Florida boat owners should be prepared just in case.

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How to Read a Nautical Chart

From our partners at International Marine Underwriters, this post originally appeared on their Company News page, authored by John Beachley, National Product Lines Director.

Whether it’s a big commercial vessel or a small recreational boat, one should always have access to nautical charts on board. Not only that, but knowing how to read one of these charts is important while navigating the waters.

Many may think that nautical charts are the same as maps, when in fact they are much different. Nautical charts specifically depict what a boater should look out for so they have a smooth and safe ride.

In this article, the author discusses the basics of chart reading. It provides tips and insights with visuals of charts, and a real-life example of how to navigate the waters.

Before you get out on the water this upcoming boating season, it’s always a good idea to review boating basics such as this one.

For additional tips and articles, please visit

Boating to Cuba? Start Here

Boating to Cuba? protect your yacht, boat, or charter Is a journey to the land of epic cigars and gorgeous beaches on the horizon? If your ship’s log will soon include a Cuban voyage, we can help ensure you’re covered for the adventure.  Our insurance company partners are currently evaluating applications and offering marine insurance quotes that include coverage if you are considering boating to Cuba. Start here!

Know that you’re likely to encounter the following unique policy conditions:

  • Increased deductibles
  • Excludes confiscation by any authority
  • Theft restrictions or absolute exclusion for theft may apply
  • Passengers must have their OFAC and Coast Guard approval documentation for all persons traveling to Cuba and comply with all requirements and regulations
  • Fully paid premiums, with minimum earned and cancellation conditions.

Additionally, the boat owner likely will incur the expense of a professional marine condition and valuation survey (while hauled). This includes compliance of survey recommendations prior to departure or binding.

Coverage terms and conditions for Cuba navigation vary among insurance companies – and we’re staying abreast of all the changes. Have questions? Call us. We’re here to help you with the emerging coverage details of this new category for the U.S. insurance industry.

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Bon voyage (or, as the Cubans declare: Buen viaje!)

What To Look For With Fishing Boat Insurance

If you’re like most fishermen, you’ve probably invested a lot of money in your sport – especially in your boat.  When it comes to shopping for insurance for your fishing boat, there are some things you should know.  Looking into the details now can save you from headaches later on. The time to discover you don’t have coverage is not when you have a loss. To keep it from getting too complicated, let’s start with the basics.

What to Look for in Fishing Boat Insurance

Choose an Agent: You should begin by using an agent who specializes in marine insurance. An agent who speaks to you in terms you understand is also desirable.  If you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation in layman’s terms. Ask experienced boating friends for their insurance recommendations.

Actual Cash Value vs. Agreed Value: These are the two main choices for boat insurance and depreciation is what sets them apart. No two policies are the same.

An Agreed Value policy may cost more, but it pays more. It will cover the stated value of the policy in the event of a total loss. For example, a total loss on a $50,000 agreed value policy will pay you $50,000. It may be subject to a deductible.  More importantly, a partial loss on an agreed value policy replaces most items on a “new for old” basis, with little or no depreciation, depending on the carrier.  Hence, a claim for the theft of a three-year-old bottom machine would get you a new, comparable replacement.

Actual Cash Value (ACV) policies generally cost less, but only pay up to the actual cash value at the time the boat or property was lost or damaged. Depreciation is usually calculated on all losses. ACV policies are better suited to less expensive boats or when you are not as concerned about a total loss.

Other Coverage: Some policies extend coverage to include fishing gear that you carry on the boat such as rods and reels, electronics, trolling motors, tackle, etc. You might also participate in fishing tournaments from time to time. Make sure your policy provides the liability coverage required. Do you need hurricane haul-out assistance or fuel spill coverage? Are you planning a long trip away from home? What happens if someone else drives your boat and has an accident? A good agent will review all of your options so there will be no surprises.

Deductibles: There are several ways to reduce the cost of your boat insurance. The most common way is to select the highest deductible amount that you are comfortable with. In general, physical damage deductibles start at around 1% of the value of the boat and can sometimes be increased to as much as 5%.

Now that we’ve described some of the key elements, we hope that you are in a better position to ask the right questions when buying marine insurance. Please contact our marine advisors for more guidance or visit our website at

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Voyages to Cuba Bring Uncertainty

Map of Cuba

Florida boaters should be cautious before making plans to navigate to Cuba.

On September 18, 2015, The U.S. Department of the Treasury released new rules surrounding U.S. travel to Cuba. The administration lifted the prohibition on boating to Cuba and Cuban waters. While the intrigue is enormous, Florida boaters should be cautious before making plans for such a Caribbean voyage. Although the U.S. government has liberalized the rules, there are many unique conditions that should be considered; political risk, crime, navigational limits available on current insurance policies, just to name a few.

The new regulations bring the marine insurance industry into uncharted territory. Insurance companies are not yet offering coverage extensions for destination Cuba. The reasons that the carriers may be slow to respond are as follows:

  • Conflicting laws and regulations between U.S. agencies
  • Lack of familiarity with Cuban laws which may govern in civil and criminal matters
  • Lack of knowledge and limited opportunities for subrogation
  • Additional expense of sending marine surveyors and claims adjustors
  • Unknown/adequate repair facilities
  • Access to repair parts
  • Towing charges if the vessel had to be repatriated for repair
  • Technical complications associated with endorsing in force policies
  • No underwriting data to base rates on

It is uncertain when insurance companies will offer this coverage to the recreational boater. In the meantime, boaters are reminded that property and liability coverage only applies to claims which occur within the navigational limits stated in the boater’s policy. Wallace Welch & Willingham will stay attuned to this situation and will continue to post updates.

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Top 10 Boating Safety Tips

Top 10 Boating Safety Tips

1. Always wear a life jacket and insist that your crew and guests do the same. Approximately 77 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned in 2013.(1) Almost 84 percent of those who drowned were not wearing a life jacket, and 8 out of every 10 boaters who drowned were on vessels less than 21 feet in length. Always have an adequate supply of life jackets aboard. Make sure that children are wearing appropriate life jackets that fit correctly. Drowning was the reported cause of death for approximately 36 percent of the children under the age of 13 who perished in boating accidents in 2013. In cold water areas, life jackets are even more important. Hypothermia is a significant risk factor for injury or even death while boating. Cold water accelerates the onset and progression of hypothermia since body heat can be lost 25 times faster in cold water than in cold air. Boaters can be at risk of hypothermia in warm waters as well, where expected time of survival can be as little as two hours in waters as warm at 60 – 70°F. To learn hypothermia risk factors and how to better your chances of survival, visit

2. Never drink alcohol while boating. Alcohol use was again the leading factor in all fatal boating accidents, and in 2013 contributed to 75 fatalities, 16% of recreational boating deaths.(1) Stay sharp on the water by leaving the alcohol on dry land.

3. Take a boating safety course. Only 13% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction from a provider offering a course that meets U.S. Coast Guard-recognized national standards.(1) You may even qualify for a reduced insurance rate if you complete a safety course. Contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron chapter(2) or visit for more information on courses in your area.

4. Stay in control by taking charge of your safety and that of your passengers. Boaters between the ages of 36 and 55 accounted for the highest percentage of boating fatalities (38%) and injuries (39%) than any age group in 2013.(1) With nearly 5,500 vessels involved in accidents in 2013, it is imperative to maintain control of your vessel and your passengers. Don’t forget that safety begins with you.

5. Understand and obey boating safety recommendations and navigational rules. Imagine the mayhem that would result if car drivers disregarded highway traffic laws. In 2013, violations of navigation rules were the leading contributing factor in more than 200 accidents and 15 deaths.(1) Know and understand boating safety procedures
and rules of navigation before taking to the water, and practice them without fail.

Read the full article and see the rest of the list.

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