Thursday, October 8, 2015

There's Always That ONE Catch...

The Caribbean is our Oyster (random internet image)
Remember way back when we were trying to get our insurance worked out to go to the Bahamas...Insurance Woes it was. That was a dark time in our lives.  This year we're going through it again... although not quite as woeful thanks in total to Casey Heer of Casey Insurance Group.

Ever-the-crazy-control-freak... I initiated the conversation with Casey about our plans to enter the Caribbean later this year/early next year well before the time we would actually exit our current coverage area.  I wanted to get a feel for what would be needed.  And I wanted to avoid having to pay for another expensive haul out and survey.   Many insurers want a survey that is less than two years old, and time is marching on for our last survey... If we are going to need to switch insurers, let's do it now while our survey is still fresh!

Will it be as simple as keeping our current carrier and paying an additional premium for a "rider"addendum when we leave the Bahamas?  And if so, would that be the most efficient and economical way to cover us through the next 2 to 4 years in the Caribbean without returning to the US?

We are totally happy with our Pantaneus policy and coverage... the premium even went DOWN at renewal time.  But I don't want to find out the hard way that it's not the best fit for what we're doing, as our needs are changing yet again.  After a conversation with Casey... I began to receive new quotes.

There were basically three options.  Seaworthy, Pantaneus and Falvey.  Who's Falvey?  I've never heard of them.  I did some searching on the net and found nothing but good things.  The coverage is better than we have with Pantaneus, with the exception of one thing... We will lose our 100% lightning strike coverage... But the premium and deductibles are lower, and the value is higher... Oh well, we will still HAVE coverage for lightning strikes, but it will be subject to a deductible... and it'll probably never happen anyway.  (insert sound of knocking on wood here)

The only other thing I found was on a sailing forum.  It mentioned that Falvey's policy states the boat must be in "seaworthy condition".  I had a conversation with Casey about that and he assured me that this statement is not directed at boat owners such as ourselves... you know who I'm talking about...  I've read the policy and I'm satisfied that the coverage is good.

Casey addressed my concerns about being a policy hopper... I don't want to get in bad with the insurance companies for changing policies frequently.  No worries there.  Our coverage needs are changing.

I asked lots of questions about the policy's exclusion of Cuba and Haiti.  We will be sailing very close to those countries and may even wish to visit Cuba.  Just last week the Whitehouse approved travel to Cuba via private boat...  My questions were answered quickly:

1.  What is considered as being "in Haiti or Cuba".  Answer:  within their territorial waters.  Fair enough.
2.  What happens if we DO sail within territorial waters or even go to Cuba or Haiti?  Will our insurance coverage be null and void thereafter or will we just simply "not be covered" in the event of peril while within the waters of Haiti or Cuba?  Answer:  Some policies DO actually void your coverage if you navigate outside of your approved coverage area.  Falvey does not.  They simply won't pay a claim while we are inside of the excluded area.
3.  Since the rules for travel to Cuba are changing almost daily, if and when Falvey changes their rules on Cuba, will we be automatically covered or will we need a "rider" to go there?  Answer:  Coverage will not be automatic.  We will need to request coverage for Cuba at such time as Falvey changes their policy of excluding Cuba.

I got the answers I needed.  And where exactly IS our coverage area?  There's not really a "box".  Our navigational area is this:

Primary:  East Coast US (excluding Cuba and Haiti), Atlantic coastal & tributary waters from Eastport, ME to Cedar Key, FL including Bahamas and Turks & Caicos.  Including Canadian Maritimes; limited to 250 nautical miles offshore.

Secondary:  Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, Islands & waters of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, excluding Cuba and Haiti.

I'm sold!  Having Casey on our side has been just great.  I used to be one of those people who liked to do it all myself.  I would submit requests for quotes online and then juggle the responses.  Just trying to make sense of it all made my head spin.  With a knowledgeable agent, you can cut through the volumes of crap-coverage-quotes and just get to the ones that will actually meet your individual needs.  It's awesome.

Casey even had copies of our survey and supporting documents.  We only needed to submit copies of the recent upgrades (new mainsail, new windlass and chain, new water maker and recent bottom job and proof maintenance, new flare substitute), to insure that they get documented to support the value and "seaworthiness" of our boat since the last survey.  Being the Queen of OCD, I had all of the receipts and photos easily accessible and just sent them on their way to Casey.

We completed and submitted our 2016 hurricane plan (Casey had the 2015 copy already) and made a few tweaks to the pre-filled application that Casey did for us.  And then the wheels fell off!

That BLASTED life raft rears it's ugly head again.  I won't go into the details but you can read about it here... Falvey said we had to either remove the raft or have it re-certified within the first six months of the policy.  So, we decided to remove it.

Other than this one rather large glitch, we're happy to announce that our Insurance Woes are over for a few years.  This policy should get us through our time in the Caribbean without having to make any more changes.  Mark another thing off the list of things to do... countdown to departure - 24 DAYS!


  1. Thanks for all the info! We currently have Progressive, since we haven't started cruising yet and don't have any survey. Since we hope to start cruising next Spring, we plan on getting a survey while the boat is on the hard and switch to a company with more coverage. I'll definitely check out Falvey thanks to you .. I never heard of them either!

    1. Contact Casey at Casey Insurance Company. He will submit your information to several carriers with policies that fit your needs and then help by advising you and smoothing over the rough spots. I can't wait until you guys get going. We didn't need to change until we left the US but really if you've sold your home you may already need new coverage as soon as you begin living on the boat. Casey will find you the right policy for your boat and your cruising grounds.