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Old 28-01-2016, 16:18   #1
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single handed insurance

I am getting close to the point of buying my first big 30+ ft sailboat in TX for a planned sabatical and then hopefully in the not too distant future live aboard full time. Anyway reading recently about insurance issues it struck me that I may have issues sailing singlehanded with the insurance company's. Does anyone have experience in this matter?
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Old 28-01-2016, 16:44   #2
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Re: single handed insurance

I went thru this recently and, thru this forum, found Al Golden of International Marine Insurance Services (IMIS). I dont have any contact info handy, but after a long search for anyone that would cover a young, single-hander on a small boat he has been most helpful, and actually got me some reasonable quotes for a company out of the UK.

Would recommend reaching out to him.

If you're not planning on leaving US waters, there's a lot more options.
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Old 28-01-2016, 16:47   #3
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Re: single handed insurance

First major goal is to sail across the Atlantic, but much to learn before then. Many thanks for the very constructive reply.
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Old 28-01-2016, 17:34   #4
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Re: single handed insurance

Al Golden is great.

But for single handed passages I doubt he could do much

Do you wish to live your life under the thumb of some insurance company? I don't.
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Old 28-01-2016, 17:52   #5
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Re: single handed insurance

We bought an older boat for no more than I'm willing to lose all at once. Granted this route isn't for everyone, but we pay liability only to keep it in a marina.
The rest of the time I have the freedom to sail when and where I see fit with no crewing restrictions or locational prohibitions.



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Old 28-01-2016, 19:54   #6
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Re: single handed insurance

To be honest with ourselves if he boat is a total loss off shore then what are the chances of here being someone left to pay the money to...? Sounds like it's not a show stopper. Many thanks all.
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Old 28-01-2016, 21:24   #7
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Re: single handed insurance

Tried Al Golden for single handed sailing without success a few years back. Only thing he could offer was coastal insurance. For open ocean a crew if at least three was required. Hopefully they've found a carrier that won't discriminate against us solo sailers.
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Old 28-01-2016, 21:43   #8
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Re: single handed insurance

I've been single handing a 40' boat for 21-years with three different insurers. I am covered as a single hander within 150-miles of land during daylight hours. That is the best insurance I can find.

My thoughts about the problem:

- most difficulties occur close to land
- if the boat is lost at sea while single handing I imagine I will also be lost
- when I was concerned about a passage I would take a guest/crewman along

My only attempt to claim damages that might be covered by insurance was at anchor close to shore. The insurance company found so many ways to reduce their payment, they never said NO - just "here is a detail you need to consider" and then would reduce the payment, that I withdrew the claim.

$20,000 damage, $4,000 deductible and they eventually offered to pay $3,500. I had hired a SAMS surveyor to get a repair estimate and that surveyor had received approval from the insurance company for the repairs. Six-weeks later the company had found a dozen ways to reduce their payment.

I now have a very high deductible, low premium policy that MIGHT be useful under some circumstances.
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Old 28-01-2016, 23:16   #9
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Re: single handed insurance

Quote:
Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
My only attempt to claim damages that might be covered by insurance was at anchor close to shore. The insurance company found so many ways to reduce their payment, they never said NO - just "here is a detail you need to consider" and then would reduce the payment, that I withdrew the claim.

$20,000 damage, $4,000 deductible and they eventually offered to pay $3,500. I had hired a SAMS surveyor to get a repair estimate and that surveyor had received approval from the insurance company for the repairs. Six-weeks later the company had found a dozen ways to reduce their payment.

I now have a very high deductible, low premium policy that MIGHT be useful under some circumstances.
Sounds sadly familiar, & not just with regards to boats. Ugh!

Dare I ask what company this is?
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Old 29-01-2016, 11:05   #10
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Re: single handed insurance

When I wrote my singlehanded book a few years ago I interviewed Richard Power from Fastnet Marine Insurance in the UK. He said they have attempted to find insurance for singlehanders in many countries, but have struggled for US citizens because few underwriters in the US are willing to underwrite it.

I asked him specifically if he would be able to obtain insurance for a singlehander on a round the world cruise. He answered that he could do it as long as the boat had proper equipment, was well maintained, and did not leave port with any of the safety equipment not working.

Of note is that Jeanne Socrates, a UK citizen, lost her boat in Mexico but was covered by insurance for the loss.

I'd suggest that you call Richard for advice. Welcome To Fastnet Marine : Fastnet Marine
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Old 29-01-2016, 11:17   #11
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Re: single handed insurance

... how is the wording 'in those policies' that single handed gets no coverage?

This is unknown in German policies afik, for sure my German insurer has no issues if I use our boat single handed.

Regards,

Carsten
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Old 29-01-2016, 11:53   #12
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Re: single handed insurance

CarstenWL, Some policies will have specific limits on singlehanding, such as you must only sail in daylight hours, or only within a certain distance from home port. But in most cases it is not particular wording that excludes singlehanding. Rather, they will just not insure you at all, or will charge you double, if you say that you are singlehanding. AND, you really MUST say that you are singlehanding if you plan an extended voyage. According to my interview with Fastnet Insurance, any policy will require you to state if there are any material conditions that might impact on sailing the boat properly. (Perhaps you are blind, or in a wheelchair, or anything else that would impair your ability to sail) According to Richard, singlehanding would certainly fall under material conditions. So if you didn't tell them you were singlehanding, then they could refuse a claim when they found you had been on an extended voyage.

One thing that he also told me, is that insurance companies look closely at your claim history. So if you've had a number of claims, they can refuse you for further coverage. This is a problem with racers who tend to have a lot of claims. So you are better to not make claims for smaller accidents, rather than risk not getting insurance at all.
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Old 29-01-2016, 13:13   #13
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Re: single handed insurance

Quote:
Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
I've been single handing a 40' boat for 21-years with three different insurers. I am covered as a single hander within 150-miles of land during daylight hours. That is the best insurance I can find.

My thoughts about the problem:

- most difficulties occur close to land
- if the boat is lost at sea while single handing I imagine I will also be lost
- when I was concerned about a passage I would take a guest/crewman along

My only attempt to claim damages that might be covered by insurance was at anchor close to shore. The insurance company found so many ways to reduce their payment, they never said NO - just "here is a detail you need to consider" and then would reduce the payment, that I withdrew the claim.

$20,000 damage, $4,000 deductible and they eventually offered to pay $3,500. I had hired a SAMS surveyor to get a repair estimate and that surveyor had received approval from the insurance company for the repairs. Six-weeks later the company had found a dozen ways to reduce their payment.

I now have a very high deductible, low premium policy that MIGHT be useful under some circumstances.
Sounds like you've experienced what I would expect--insurers weasling out of paying for the damage. While not single-handers facing insuring, we carry liability only and, like many folks, figure that its up to us to keep the boat from harm. The freedom to sail where you want when you want is worthwhile, IMO.
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Old 29-01-2016, 16:18   #14
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Re: single handed insurance

All - Many thanks for the insight.

Foolish - I read your book very very interesting. Inspiring even. And I may just read it again...!
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Old 29-01-2016, 19:14   #15
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Re: single handed insurance

I was told last year that no one was willing to underwrite an old man alone on a bluewater passage. Didn't stop me but I would have liked to have some coverage upon arrival as the closer you get to civilization the better your chances are of suffering the consequences of someone else's poor judgement. I still have full coverage in my home waters and that is where the vast majority of my time is spent anyway.
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