29 Tips To Get Insurance For Offshore Voyaging—Negotiating Cover

The first eleven tips in Part 1 covered things we can do to make ourselves and our boats more insurable.

Now let's dive into actually finding and negotiating offshore insurance cover.

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Robert Hurlow

We have been cruising across the N Pacific for the past 3 years, out of Seattle. We have a 20 yo custom steel 50 ft cutter made to very high standards in New Zealand. When we left it was understood we would be leaving our boat in several ports along the way to return home at times. When we left we had a policy at about 1.5% of value. A week before it was to renew, we were dropped by the carrier. After scrambling we ended up with a new policy at 3 % of value. This year ( November) we tried to get ahead of the renewal. Our agent in California spent a fretful week looking for a secondary broker, eventually landing us with a broker in Serbia, then of course to Lloyds. Now we are at 3.5 %. We were told that this year the offshore broker market is getting even tighter. Now in Japan we are planning to leave our boat in a very good marina. I am not looking forward to the next renewal cycle. Just some info for those headed out!

Ken Ferrari

Wait… you mentioned your “new boat” twice. Did I miss something? What did you get?

Ken Ferrari

I look forward to hearing the rundown.

Ken Ferrari

For what it’s worth on the insurance series… I’m trying to renew our policy right now. Our boat is in Lisbon, Portugal after having crossed the Atlantic in 2019 (after cruising the US east coast, the Bahamas and the eastern Caribbean for several years). Our current insurance company is ghosting us about the renewal – incommunicado, as it were. We began working with the Gowrie Group on a Jackline policy. A few months of communication, in fact. We only needed to complete an insurance survey once allowed back into Portugal. They even asked for our surveyor’s credentials and resume… which he spent some time putting together. I received an email last week from the broker notifying me that they’ve changed their mind because our hull value is less than $100k. We have a 1981 Morgan 382. Not sure what we’ll do now. We may end up with a liability only policy. And we’re simply looking for coastal cruising insurance while in the Med for a few years. Frustrating for sure.

Ernest E Vogelsinger

Hi Ken, contact Pantaenius, I’m sure they will work something out.

Ken Ferrari

John is correct. Pantaenius told me to get lost several years ago.

Matt

I’ve seen a worrying number of lapses of ethics and professionalism throughout the insurance industry recently. The “we want to put a 3rd-party’s GPS tracker on your car and we can’t tell you how it works or how its data is used” trend is perhaps the most egregious recent example. What you’ve seen with these marine insurers is another.
Much of the blame must land on the companies themselves, of course. But some of it can certainly be assigned to business schools that have, for decades, been treating ethics as an afterthought for compliance purposes, and churn out armies of manager drones who can’t see the people behind the numbers. Plus, there’s a lot of Dunning-Kruger Effect and Peter Principle in play; the company needs to keep going, so it puts the people it can find in the roles it needs to fill whether they truly understand the situation or not, and a lot of them end up thinking they’re doing a great job managing the business when they simply don’t know how to make decisions and are just coasting along on top of the corporate policy handbooks.
Insurance isn’t a sexy business. It takes a certain, rare kind of mindset to do a really good job of managing it, and most of the people with that mindset aren’t interested in this kind of work. Sometimes you have to skip over a lot of brokers and agents before you find one who really knows their stuff.

Peter Herrman

If this is too far off topic, feel free to delete. But your comment about liability made me wonder if it makes sense to have ownership of the boat in an LLC, or similar, to avoid someone going after all your assets should it get ugly?

Ernest E Vogelsinger

To leave some numbers here – Pantaenius insures my 20-year old steel boat for damage at 1.1% of the taxed value with EUR 1.5k deductible (hull value is EUR 40k). General policy is new for old w/o deductions, up to the insured value. Salvage would have no deductible and no limit. Agreed sailing area at the moment is the complete Med (don’t know if that can be viewed as “offshore”, probably not).
Liability is EUR 10mio, at EUR 69.88.

At least I believe this is a fair deal…

Tom Fortner

I’ve just finished reading all that has been said about securing offshore insurance. How depressing! I’m glad to say that aside from my lack of experience, everything else looks good according to what has been published here. Thanks for all the great advice and insight.
I’m planning on a transatlantic next year and looking for insurance. I’m working with a company now that is at least still asking questions. We’ll see where it goes and I’ll report back when I have something to contribute.
Tom
SV Ad Astra
IP 445 #20

Tom Fortner

Update…
I applied for a policy to cover Ad Astra from the US to EU. The cost was 2.5% of the stated hull value with fairly low liability coverage, 300k. It does seem really expensive but at least they will cover me. I have never been on a transatlantic so I guess I should be grateful?!?!
The tips and insight offered by John and Amanda are very much appreciated! Thank you.

Tom Fortner

Sorry Phyllis.