icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

DON'S LOG: stories, experience and advice


Yachting in the Caribbean began as a trickle in the 50s, which was the beginning of the charter industry in ST Thomas and Antigua. It got rolling in the 60s, accelerated in the 70s, sky rocketed it in the 90, and has undergone an exponential yearly growth in the 21st century.

In the early years many of the boats were uninsured. Insured boats, some insured in the state, some with Lloyd's. Almost all English boats were insured in Lloyd's.

There was no one in the eastern Caribbean who specialize in marine insurance.

I arrived in the Caribbean in St Thomas the end of November 1956, and bought in March 1957, Iolaire a 46' engineless sloop, later converted to a yawl, built in England 1905.

After working at various jobs I ended up in the charter business skippering Iolaire.

While I was teaching sailing at City Island YC the summer of 1961 I felt that I might not want to spend the rest of my life as a charter skipper so I took a three night a week course in insurance brokerage that would lead to taking an exam for NY state insurance broker license.

I completed the course, passed the exam but did not stay for the NY State Insurance brokers exam. Rather I sailed Iolaire south to St Thomas.

I discovered in my absence that a newcomer had set up an insurance brokerage office, basically general insurance but also marine. I was quickly hired and combined chartering Iolaire and selling insurance, marine , but also house car and motor cycle!!!!

In the fall of 1963 my late wife and I decided we did not like the way St Thomas was going, loaded everything we owned on Iolaire,sailed south and established ourselves in Grenada.

I lost my wife under tragic circumstances.

Luckily in February 1966 I met a little Irish girl on the beach in Carriacuo and talked her into sailing with me on Iolaire for two weeks on my charter.

In June 1966 I was in Dublin getting engaged to the little Irish girl I had met on the beach of Tyrell bay Carriacou.

I flew to London , stayed at the Royal Ocean Racing Club and looked up old contacts from the days I raced and cruised on Lutine. In three days I organized that I could place yacht insurance with underwriters in Lloyd's of London. This would be done thru a well respected London yacht insurance brokerage firm.

I was able to do this as in 1955, I made, one hour before the start of the Fastnet race, I made a pier head jump onto Lutine, the Lloyd's Yacht Club boat. They liked my sailing ability as I raced and cruised on Lutine for the rest of the season. While racing and cruising I adsorbed much information on marine insurance and the working of Lloyd's.

The skipper for the Fastnet was Sandy Harworth, Commodore Lloyd's YC, Rear Commodore RORC and Lloyd's leading yacht underwriter. The mate for the Fastnet and skipper for the rest of the season was Brian Stewart heir to AB Stewart, the leading commercial marine underwriter.

At the end of the season they organized for me to join the RORC. Thus when I arrived in London in 1966 I was a member of a proper club, had the right connections in Lloyd's, and in my hand, hot off the press my Cruising Guide to the Lesser Antilles.

This book is considered the book that opened the Caribbean to the cruising yachtsman and made bare boat chartering possible.

The above made it possible for me to, in three day, enter into the insurance business placing insurance with Lloyd's underwriters thru a London broker.

From the middle 60s to the end of the 80s placing insurance was interesting and personal, I knew the insureds, the surveyors, the underwriters in Lloyd's.

Thru me the Lloyd's underwriters knew the situation in the eastern Caribbean.

In the 80s not only was there a huge expansion in the number of yachts in the Caribbean, but also in the number of hauling facilities and marinas. Many of the hauling facilities, yacht yards and marinas where built and operated by people that did not really have solid groundings in the yacht yard and marina building and operating business.

Lloyd's and insurance companies world wide did not realize that they had a huge exposure to losses from boats improperly stored ashore , in poorly located, poorly designed marinas. Plus because of the huge expansion of the number of yachts in the area the complete absence of safe hurricane anchorages


Lloyd's, and other insurance companies that entered the eastern Caribbean yacht market had few problems with large losses until the middle 80s when hurricanes began to cause losses. Klaus 84, Hugo 89 were bearable losses. But the catastrophic damage caused in Hurricane alley in 95 with Luis, follow by Marilyn caused many insurance companies and many Lloyd's yacht underwriter to with draw from the eastern Caribbean yacht market.

The series of hurricanes 1984 to 2017 14 in 35 years caused Panteneaus and as far as I can figure out all Lloyd's yacht underwriters and syndicates to withdraw from the eastern Caribbean yacht market.

The vast majority of Lloyd's underwriters and syndicates and the insurance companies with whom Panteneas places insurance have realized there is less risk and more profit by insuring boats in other areas of the world.

Many sailors who think they have Lloyd's policies do not have Lloyd's policies. Rather they have a policy issued by a locally incorporated company that pay losses from its premium income and reserves they have built over the years.

If they have a bad year and the premium income plus reserves will not cover the losses , they pull money from their Lloyd's of London excess of loss contract.

This system usually works but can break down if the company is locally incorporated and the island suffers a catastrophic loss as did St Thomas in 95. This caused the old respected Jackson insurance to go belly up. Their re insurance contract in the Lloyd's re insurance market was not large enough to cover the losses incurred. This left the insured businesses, house holders ashore and boats basically uninsured.

Owners of businesses and houses ashore that had been severely damaged or destroyed by the two hurricanes received minimal or no payment from the bankrupt Jackson company. Their appeals to FREMA fell on deaf ears. FREMA had been set up to cover uninsured home owners when disaster struck. Despite home owners not being able to collect from Jackson, FREMA officials said they were insured sooooooo

Boat owners received little or nothing from Jackson insurance.

Let us hope that all local insurance companies keep more than enough re insurance to cover all exposure even if the island receives a catastrophic hit from a hurricane.

Via contact in London I can still place insurance on yachts leaving the Caribbean heading back to Europe, or heading a west across the Caribbean and across the Pacific. My trying to insure boats IN the Caribbean is a waste of time

There are companies in the Caribbean, listed below that will organize insurance for boats in the Caribbean.

I feel the underwriters are not properly rating the risks submitted to them on the basis of information available to the underwriter.

Many underwriters are insuring all boats in the Caribbean, the whole eastern Caribbean, all with NSD named storm damage/hurricane coverage, no reduction in rate if an owner does not want NDC coverage. Boats that are based in Hurricane Alley pay the same rate as boats based in the lower Caribbean.


Below are listed some brokers and companies that have organized insurance for various of my friends.

  • Jhall@anjoins.ag, Antigua agent for Anjor a Barbados based insurance company that has been in business for 90 years. Anjo places it insurance with Massey a conglomeration of UK insurance companies
  • sharon.mitchell@caribbins.com, represents Carib insurers a Tortola based company in business since 1973 acting as agent for three highly rated UK insurance companies , Guardian General, Massey, United, Royal Star.stacey.roberts@nagicobvi.com, a Tortola based company hopefully more information on this company by Tues am your time
Be the first to comment