Closing Delay, and 7 Boat Insurance Lessons

We were scheduled to close on our sailboat today, but the closing has been delayed four days, to allow the seller to complete an agreed-upon repair. Sailors need to be flexible, right?

One surprising lesson for us so far, was how time consuming getting insurance for the boat turned out to be. Our “baseline” for comparison was home and auto insurance. We’ve always been able to buy that coverage quickly and easily… Not the case with boat insurance, we now know.

So what made it so hard?

1. We hadn’t owned a similar sized sailboat. Moving up from a 27-foot to a 44-foot boat was an issue, that either precluded our getting a quote (BoatUS), or which required our being assessed as competent operators by a licensed captain effort (Pantaenius).

2. Getting our licensed captain “approved” by the insurance company required considerable disclosures.

3. Comparing quotes between companies requires filling out lengthy applications, and different insurers request different information.

4. Because the boat is in Florida, and she would still be there after July 15, we had to submit a storm plan for approval…and because we weren’t sure where the boat would be slipped after the closing, finalizing the plan was an unexpected challenge that pushed getting our insurance in place right down to the wire…which we’d rather have avoided.

5. Insurance costs for Florida, during hurricane season, and Maryland, where we will be moving our boat, are quite different. So we’ll start out with one policy, and switch to another, when we are north of the Georgia state border, and have our annual policy pro-rated accordingly when we make our second six month payment.

6. As with other types of insurance, if you don’t pay the full annual cost in one installment, a “convenience fee” is tacked on to each payment.  Since we’ll be making two payments, it will be 3 percent. If we’d opted for four quarterly payments, it would have been 5 percent.

7. It really helps to create a matrix to compare what each insurer is offering. We modeled our matrix after one on a terrific post, “What Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Know” on Where the Coconuts Grow.