As we have, unfortunately, experienced from
Hurricane Irma, the NHC can be off the mark by a coast. Irma was reported to hit Miami and the East Coast of Florida for days,
prior to the actual target. That is all we heard. Everyone on the East Coast was ready and ………Irma
went to the Keys and Naples leaving many boat owners unprepared and devastated. What is most important to safeguard, first,
is you and your family’s lives, and second, your property. I had many calls, before Irma, from existing clients and
new clients regarding insurance policies expiring. In other cases, current insurance policies needed updating because the
policies did not reflect the vessels had undergone major re-fits or improvements.
As someone who has professional insight
into the insurance business, as both, a former agent and current licensed adjuster, I offer my advice. Make sure, beginning
June 1st of every year, your policy is up to date and know when the expiration date is up on the policy. When you know the
expiration date, ask your company the following question. Do they want an “in” or “out” of water survey?
This is important to all the procrastinators. If it is an “in water survey” they require, you can wait a little
while on booking that survey. However, if your policy requires an “out of water survey” and a storm is a week
out from the coast, all marinas will be busy hauling and securing the vessels for which they have hurricane contracts. You
will be left off the list until after the storm, which is too late. Your insurance survey is good for three years. Therefore,
I suggest when you take your boat out for bottom paint, every few years, take that time to have an insurance survey done.
After the storm, insurance companies will be inundated by claims and they may want to settle quickly for a fraction of what
the damage actually is to your vessel. They will send out an adjuster, whom, in most instances, does not know the pointy end
(bow) of the boat from the stern. To combat this, you need your own advocate, A SURVEYOR WHO WORKS FOR YOU, not the adjuster
whom represents, his employer, the insurance company. Sadly, the majority of my legal experiences, as an expert witness, are
against insurance companies for failure to pay a claim. They always state the vessel was not properly maintained and you have
no actual proof of the condition prior to the incident. This is not what you want. It is expensive and can take years. Currently,
I have several pending litigation cases. Two are high-dollar damage lawsuits, one in Puerto Rico and one in Fort
Lauderdale. Both involve failure to pay a claim. The insurance companies blamed the owners and both cases are entering their
fifth year of litigation. The damage was done, claims were filed, adjusters went out, claims were denied or a small offer
was made, lawyers were hired, expert witnesses were hired. For the duration, the vessels have been set aside with no care
or maintenance, rotting away, and losing more, and more value. You can avoid this LITIGATION NIGHTMARE by following my advice.
Have an insurance survey performed and on file with your insurance company showing the CURRENT condition and value of your
vessel. Keeping proof of your vessel’s current condition and value is very important. This is your
BEST DEFENSE. Please, have a hurricane plan in place for you, your family, and your vessel. Stay safe and protected.