Filed Under:Agent Broker, E&S/Specialty Business

Safe Harbor

Partner with experts to dock boat business

Just for fun, let’s play the "what if" game. It’s Friday afternoon and a client calls and informs you that she needs coverage for a new 45-foot houseboat she just purchased and plans to take out for the weekend. Or it’s early Monday morning and a client tells you he purchased a 28-foot center console fishing boat at the boat show over the weekend. He is picking it up today and needs coverage.

Obviously, these boats are too large to be covered under their homeowners’ policies and they fall outside the appetite of your standard personal insurance carriers. You don’t have a specialty marine market in house for high performance boats or boats more than 26 feet in length. How do you respond?

First, tap into the expert’s knowledge and expertise. Marine specialists know their stuff. If you are not familiar with boats, marine policies and nautical terminology, you could get yourself and your clients in real trouble. Consider the following:

  1. A typical recreational marine policy contains a warranty clause that states the agent and insured certify that the boat is well maintained and "seaworthy." If you have little knowledge of boats, are you comfortable putting your agency’s reputation on the line?
  2. At some point most specialty watercraft will require a marine survey. This is an inspection done on the vessel similar to a home appraisal. The surveyor comments on the overall seaworthiness of the boat, its operating systems and determines a market value for the vessel. A marine survey can contain as many as 100 pages of technical information. Are you prepared to read through this document and certify that the boat meets National Fire Protection Assn. and U.S. Coast Guard standards?
  3. At the time of a loss, a marine specialist will be inspecting the boat and adjusting the loss. Are you equipped to knowledgeably advocate on behalf of your client and ensure they are getting a fair settlement?

If you cannot confidently answer yes to all these statements, then you should seek out a specialty marine partner to handle your boat coverage placements. Qualified marine wholesale specialists can provide all this and more. They will help you understand your clients’ exposures and advise you on the right options and solutions. They also should provide you with the right questions to ask your customers so you can professionally and efficiently get coverage written. In short, the right partner will make you look good in front of your customer.

Industry studies show that customer retention increases with the number of polices you have with that customer. Increased client retention improves your agency’s productivity, efficiency and revenue.

With a solid recreational watercraft solution in your office, you also gain the ability to market this product line directly to your clients. You may find that you have a significant number of boat owners in your agency management system. What was once an insignificant line of business for your agency may now become a legitimate revenue stream for your organization. In this way, offering watercraft coverage to your clients strengthens the long term profitability of your agency.

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