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DON'S LOG: stories, experience and advice

Underwriters are not properly evaluating yachting risks in the eastern Caribbean

My great grandfather Col.Hugh McQueen Street was in the insurance business in Vicksburg Mississippi. He sent his son Charles Richard Street at age about 18 north to Chicago to learn the insurance business. This he did and became one of the leaders in the industry. He was famous for the fact that he could smoke a cigar, have a conversation on the phone and with the man sitting at his desk all at the same time.

He was also famous for saying”there area few brilliant people in business who are from the south” stressing the word From!

Digging thru his papers I came across an letter that was sent out to all his agents. “all risks submitted do not have to be prime risks. Describe the proposed insured and the risks. I will evaluate and come up with a premium that the insured can afford and we on the long term basis can make a profit”.

Unfortunately at the present time this does not appear to be the situation in the yacht insurance industry in the Caribbean.

In general the US and European underwriters are quoting on the whole Caribbean with no NSD damage coverage above 12 30. To add NSD, is very expensive.

Quotes from Caribbean insurers seem to be with NSD coverage no discount for requests for coverage with no NSD coverage.

The US , European and Caribbean underwriters treat the whole Eastern Caribbean as the same.

Boats that are based in the southern end of the Caribbean certainly should have a lower rate than boats based in hurricane alley.

Similarly boats that lay up in hurricane alley should pay a higher rate than boats that lay up further south, especially boats that lay up in Grenada or Trinidad.

Boats laid up in yards or marinas, in their proposal form, they should name yard or marina, how the yard or marina fared in the last hurricane and what the yard or marina has done to minimize damage next time a hurricane hits. There should be different rates for boats laid up mast in , mast out, and a discount if the boat supplies a certificate from a surveyor stating that the boat is properly laid up with a good chance of serving a hurricane with minimal damage.

If underwriters correctly evaluated their risks, then worked out premiums in the light of the risks, some premiums would go up, some stay the same, others go down, and in some cases the underwriter would refuse to quote.

Probably if risks were correctly appraised and rated, underwriters could probably make money insuring boats in the eastern Caribbean..

But there is no possibility of insurance companies making money until they insist yards properly chock , tie down boats, remove masts and owners supply a survey showing that this has been properly done.

Boats laid up in a marina, marinas vary drastically from being ultra safe, Marine Puerto Del Rey where 1,000 boats came thru 1995 and 2017 with minimal damage, to others in which most boats survived, to others that have been disaster areas where most boats suffered major damage. Obviously with boats laid up in a marina, rates should differ according to the record of the marina in previous hurricanes

Until underwriters world wide start operating as did my Grandfather did, evaluating the risks then establishing a rate that the insured could afford, yet the company make money, insuring boats in the eastern Caribbean will be difficult and erratic.

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