I'm not sure how much time lapsed between us getting the letter telling us we were unceremoniously dropped by our insurance company and the first tropical storm of the season, but it wasn't a lot. That said, I did sort of drag my feet a bit on getting a new policy and, being that insurance falls under my field of "bases to cover", it was a pretty significant ball drop when I realized - as Hurricane Danny headed straight for our boat - that we were without coverage. I needed to fix it, and according to the severe weather tracker on wunderground.com, I had approximately seventy-two hours to do it.
****Let me preface this story by telling you that this is NOT a post demystifying marine insurance. Sorry to disappoint, but I'm pretty sure that's impossible. Insurance and all it's various branches (tentacles?) is - to me - like alchemy, and comprehending an insurance policy (yawn-shudder-yawn) is only slightly easier than decoding the hieroglyphics on King Tut's sarcophagus. [If you are looking for a more comprehensive guide to boat insurance, here's a good start: Compare Boat Insurance and here is an AWESOME post written by the same Jody who save's us later in the story: What Marine Insurance Companies Don't Want You to Know]
What this post will teach you, however, is that it really pays to have very thorough friends and to complain to those friends via Facebook chat that "having an uninsured boat in the path of a hurricane really sucks".
For your enjoyment, I have included 'play-by-play' meme's made specifically for me during the time of this debacle (via chat) by my friend Peter who seriously knows how to make me laugh out loud.
So there we were, dropped by our insurance company because they "no longer cover live-aboards", when a little storm named Danny spun up in the Atlantic. I had been asking various companies for quotes prior to his arrival, and was given ranges anywhere from $2,500 (reasonable) to $5,000 per year (insane!). The caveat was that all of these policies required an insurance survey aged two years or less. The last survey done on our boat was "past it's prime", as it were, and a new one was going to cost us over $1,000. Gulp. "Is there any way we can get coverage without getting a new survey?" Scott asked me, visibly irritated at the notion of parting with a very large sum of money. I shook my head. "Not according to these various companies I've been talking to, no," I told him in defeat, gazing blankly at the glow of my inbox. Reluctantly, he lined up a surveyor to come and look at our boat on Tortola.
By now "tropical storm" Danny was a full-blown hurricane and projected to go over our boat on Monday morning (if there is one cool thing about hurricanes, it's that - most of the time - they give you some warning). Our coverage was hedging on one thing and one thing only: a new survey. "Scott, when is it going to happen?" I asked, doing nothing to mask my impatience. Turns out, lining up a swift survey was easier said than done on Tortola during hurricane season. "Benson said he'd try to do it tomorrow (Thursday), if not Friday first thing" he replied. We were cutting it close. "The thing is" Scott added, "there's nothing we can do about it now, so we might as well just not worry about it." It's amazing how I can simultaneously love and hate him in a single instant. I mean, he had a point, but still...
I hopped on my computer to do a little work and started online chatting with my good friend and cruising buddy, Jody, of Where the Coconuts Grow. One thing you must know about Jody that you may or may not pick up from her beautiful blog is that she is THOROUGH. The woman knows how to cross a "t" and dot an "i" unlike anyone I've ever known. When I told her of our debacle during our chat session, she started asking questions about the quotes we had gotten. Questions, of course, that I had no answers for. She mentioned things like "consequential damage" and "Lloyd's of London" and noted that our quotes had "crazy high deductibles." She then suggested I contact her guy, Kent, at the Pegasus Insurance Group, the company that they had just recently switched over to. "I want to say Pegasus would accept a survey that was 3-5 years old" she wrote me. Skeeeert. To modernize an old favorite, "$1K saved is $1K earned."
I emailed Kent immediately and went to bed hoping he'd get back to me ASAP. Our survey was scheduled first thing the following morning...
****The next morning Scott let me sleep in, which turned out to be a bad thing since I didn't get to check my email to see that Kent had replied at 6:30am and that, yes, they would accept our old survey.
"Stop the surveyor!" I yelled as I ran out of the bedroom, hair a mess and sleep still in my eyes.
"What?" Scott looked at me like a crazy person.
"Jody's guy...he...they...insurance...the company....will accept our old survey!" keep in mind I had literally just rolled out of bed. (Have I mentioned I am not a morning person?)
Scott immediately sprang up grabbed his phone. "This would have been nice to know two hours ago" he grumbled as he dialed the number of our surveyor, "I hope we're not too late."
****Long story short - we were late but not too late; the surveyor had been on our boat but, lucky for us, only for a bit. He said it was easy and not much trouble since we'd "put her away so meticulously" (there's really no other way when you store your boat in the hurricane box during storm season).
We were off the hook.
Later that afternoon, we got our new quote - with coverage binding the next day - from Pegasus. $2250 for the year with year-round coverage as live-aboards in the 'hurricane box.'
We were getting insured. And just in time for Hurricane Danny to fizzle out to nothing more than a little rain shower.
But his big sister Erika was following right in his path, and she allegedly packed a punch.
****It's definitely unnerving at times to keep your boat in "Hurricane Alley" during storm season, but having insurance definitely helps us sleep a little better.
Huge thank you to Kent Urbine of Pegasus Insurance Group. He went above and beyond the call of duty for us and his customer service is exemplary. Also a huge thank you to Jody of Where the Coconuts Grow. She saved us a LOT of money. Definitely owe her a drink (or ten!) when we meet back up in the BVI's in November!