Just the mere mention of an approaching storm by the local weatherman these days seems to be enough to send people racing to the local grocery store in a panic as they empty shelves of bread, milk and eggs. This action makes little sense to me but I guess for many French toast is a favorite treat when the skies get heavy and the wind is wicked. In addition to making sure you are well-stocked with provisions, there are other priorities that should be at the top of your list when preparing for an encroaching storm, especially if you are a boat owner.
Start by giving some serious thought to where important documents are kept, and if they will be safe in a worse case scenario. Such documents should include any insurance polices - includiing the one that covers your boat. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many boaters were left with severly damaged boats or worse - boats that will never be seen again.
If your boat has been damaged or lost, what should you do? Preparation should start from the moment you buy your boat. After buying a boat, you should research the many carriers offering boat insurance and find the one that is best for you. I suggest asking friends and family what carriers they use and how they feel about the service they are getting. It is easy to give promises in an advertisement; it is tough to hide bad customer service when dealing with someone you know.
Once you have selected a carrier, make sure you understand what coverage you have. Some policies have what is called “agreed value” hull coverage. For this policy, you and your agent agree on an amount the boat will be covered for in the case of a total loss. A second option is actual “cash value” hull coverage. With this policy, you’ll receive payment based on a blue book value of the boat. This option has a lower premium, but you might not get the coverage you need for a total loss.
If the time comes that you need to file a claim, break out the camera again. Before anything is done to the boat, especially before moving the boat, it is best to document the situation. Again, take pictures from various angles to be able to show the exact damage. This will allow your agent to easily understand anything you are trying to convey to them over the phone or via email.
Now that you have all your records (policy, receipts, and photos) it is time to call your agent. At this point your agent will be able to walk you through the rest of the claim process.
While most skippers carry some form of replacement coverage, it should be noted that there are many additional types of policies that cover more than your original purchase. Liability coverage is something boaters may not want to think about, but having some type of coverage in this realm may protect you in the unfortunate case where you are at fault in a boating accident and must pay for the vessel or property damaged along with injuries to those on board. Equipment coverage is another possibility, especially for those who leave or bring aboard expensive fishing gear and personal items like high-end cameras or video equipment on a regular basis. If you tow a boat, roadside assistance is also worth considering. Coverage for any of the above can be discussed with an insurance agent.
The point is, simply covering your hull may not be enough. If you are an active boater who likes to cruise, water ski, fish, trailer and explore, covering everything you do with your boat is certainly worth investigating.