The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Q&A—How To Increase The Insured Value of Our Boat


…The alternative was a policy only for boats with a value above $75K US. I have massively upgraded my 45 year old Morgan 382 for offshore voyaging (most recently a new Beta 35), as well as its cosmetics. But I know the market and no surveyor could honestly value it at $75K (my paint job was $55K). Any new suggestions out there?

Member, Terence


One thought, don’t give up on getting a fair insurance valuation for your boat, taking into account the cost of upgrades. We just did exactly that after an extensive refit of our J/109, and even managed to talk the insurance company into an agreed value, (rather than actual cash value) that’s substantially higher than un-refitted sister ships of the same age sell for (25-35%).

We were also able to keep the insured value of the M&R 56 at an agreed value at least double what the typical >40-year-old aluminum boat would sell for by keeping the underwriter (and broker) informed annually of all maintenance and upgrades and providing a detailed report on both refits.

Point being that insurance company stated rules are not set in stone. They will bend them if the business case is compelling enough.

Refit Report

The secret to this is to provide the insurance company with a professional-looking report on the refit, as we did, including:

Login to continue reading (scroll down)

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
I am impressed that you were able to get an insurance company to listen and massage their habitual practices to respond to reasonable-ness.
I wrote the below earlier for Terence, but I am still interested in whether there is any feedback with regards to Manifest Marine.
Thanks, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
I am close to pulling the plug on my present ins. For much the same reason and have heard good things about Gary Golden at Manifest Marine. He has a good pedigree as he is the son of Al Golden who started IMIS decades ago and catered to cruisers (his policies allowed passage making by a couple and did not demand extra crew for ex).
I would give Gary a phone call.
And please get back to us with your impressions. And I would love to hear from anyone who has knowledge of Manifest Marine.

Matt Marsh

Boat insurance is not car insurance. Car insurance is you plug in the address, VIN, driver’s licence number, and the checkboxes for which standard-form contract options are included, and The Algorithm ™ spits out the price. Boat insurance involves actual people evaluating documents and making judgment calls case-by-case. Those people don’t just look at stats; they also look at the specific boat and customer.

Credentials help. Getting our ICCs knocked about 10% off the renewal premiums. A more advanced credential that includes an on-the-water exam would likely bring it down further.

Accurate surveys and reports help. Our C&C 35 did not pass initial survey when we bought it; there was a punch list of must-do items to fix before taking it out of harbour. Once we did that, the underwriter accepted my own report as proof for issuing the full policy. They also liked our post-refit report after we fixed up the remaining non-critical things flagged by the surveyor. Underwriters like to see that you care about your boat and keep up with its maintenance. That marks you as a much better risk than someone who just leaves it unattended, moored to an old Cummins engine block on the seabed, for five weeks at a time.

A good insurance broker is a godsend. I think I’m going to drop a basket of chocolate on the desk of our broker next time I’m in that part of town; she’s just that helpful.

Stein Varjord

Hi John,
Since I live in Europe, insurance is seemingly quite different. Still, fwiw:
When we bought our cat, it had been stored on land for over 10 years, with minimal care, after the owner had died. We got a right price. Cleaning it up, putting it on the water, putting up the rig and catching up with normal maintenance made it possible to sell it for several times more than we paid. The hours spent were very well paid.

We didn’t sell, but needed an insurance. We told our chosen Pantaenius, a premium company that only works with boats, what we had bought it for, what we had done with it, which wasn’t impressively much at the time, the price of similar boats for sale, my level of experience. We documented it with pictures and data. Also provided a thorough survey report from the start of the 10 years on land. It had several critical remarks, the serious one being that the electric system was shit. I gave them pictures of it and of it being completely removed and the beginnings of the new system coming in. We wanted an evaluation 5 times what we had paid.

They had zero qualms about this. No new survey asked. They even asked if we wanted it higher. Now we have done a lot more to the boat, completely rebuilt the interior and will do an exterior repaint next year. The boat can then realistically be sold for around 10 times our purchasing price. We’ll probably up the insurance value. Since cats are so popular these days, far from enough good boats available, this helps our case greatly. The knowledge of this is part of why we chose the boat.

In my opinion, this isn’t a typical situation, but it’s still possible. I think talking to competent people in insurance companies helps a lot. They understand what matters and what will be important for them. If we take them seriously, put in the effort to inform them honestly and completely, they take us seriously.

Michael McCranie

You mention the International Certificate of Competence and the Yacht Master Offshore course. I’m at the beginning of my journey and started with an ASA course. Are the Yacht Master courses going to be the best overall to begin working towards?

Matt Marsh

Yachtmaster Coastal & Offshore credentials are good and widely recognized. You can’t go straight to them, though. They’re something you get *after* you have substantial experience. ASA or Sail Canada courses on the water in summer, and Power & Sail Squadron navigation courses from home while you’re snowed in, is what I tend to recommend to people in North America who want formal training. Once you have a few coastal passages under your belt you can try for Yachtmaster Coastal. Similarly for YM Offshore/Ocean after yet more experience.

Matt Marsh

I’ll be curious to see that tip article, John.
I’m hoping to get Yachtmaster credentials myself, eventually. But even after all these years I have not yet built up a substantial enough logbook to qualify. You need 800 miles and 30 days of verifiable sea time, at least half of which must be in tidal waters, to do the YM Coastal exam. YM Offshore cranks that up even more, requiring multiple overnight passages.
RYA is correct in calling it “the pinnacle of yachting credentials”. I don’t think I know anyone who’s gone straight to a Yachtmaster course without prior experience. Challenging it after years of real-world experience, or doing an intensive RYA / IYT course and then the Yachtmaster exam after having already earned an ICC and an ASA or Sail Canada or equivalent intermediate credential, seems to be far more common.

Michael McCranie

John and Matt, thank you both for the help. This is going to change how I plan out my training significantly.

Petter Mather Simonsen

Was with Pantaenius on the former vessel and also on the current one – totally 13 years. Have not had any claims, but so far they have been good in terms of value insured and upgrades. From what I have seen of comments who have had claims with them, the settlements have been very fair and quick. So recommendable,.

Terence Thatcher

I am working with Manifest Marine, but have nothing from them yet. I have had BoatUS for 26 years. They are now “owned” by Geico. They will not insure any vessel in the Caribbean or Mexico that is older than 30 years old. They will not write new insurance for ANY vessel over 40 years old.
They refuse to look at he improvements and upgrades I have made to my 45 year old Morgan 382. Just in the last 10 years I have spent $150K and that does not count my own time. Some may think that stupid of me, but I decided years ago that if I was going to sail across oceans, I would upgrade what Morgan built and keep her well found and also looking new. For instance, Morgan did not have good backing plates on lifeline stanchions. My vessel now does. A friend of mine showed me the stanchions on his twenty year old Catalina 40. They have four fasteners. Two are bolts into the toe rail; two are screws into the cored deck!!! I will let folks know if Manifest Marine helps me out. Thanks to Dick Stevenson for pointing me in that direction.