The experts at Boat U.S. have been insuring boats and only boats since 1966. They provide low rates and broad insurance coverage for recreational boats and PWC nationwide.
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Have been insured by BoatUS for over 14 years and could not have been more pleased. We recently received our renewal notice which did not include our usual "no loss" credit. No problem, must have been an oversight, so I called. Guess what, although they have kept the name Geico now runs the show. I was told that rates had increased in Florida and the "no loss" credit was imbedded in my premium. Between my credit and the rate increase my premium went up over $1000. Warning folks, this is no longer Boat US and if you know anything about Geico you will find another insurance carrier for your boat. I actually feel sorry for the folks answering the phones, it is quite obvious that they are getting allot of questions about the new billing methods and the unexplained and unexpected rate increase.
We had our charter boat, a 41' Ricky Scarborough Express, insured through BoatUS affiliates for some years. First, the insurance company's name was Seaworthy then it was GEICO Marine.
Before I relate our issues, everyone should be aware that BoatUS is certainly not a little non-profit that just loves handling boating issues for its members. BoatUS and the insurance companies that are marketed, including GEICO, are all 100% owned by Berkshire Hathaway, one of the world's largest conglomerates. Warren Buffett is the Chairman of Berkshire and Uncle Warren, as he is known, loves getting cash flows from his subsidiaries but his insurance companies, at least Seathworthy/GEICO Marine, are certainly not capable nor ethical in dealing with large claims.
Our problem basically was that we got a new survey on our boat in order for Seaworthy to insure it in November 2010. Seaworthy agreed with the valuation placed on the boat by a qualified surveyor and we agreed to the same valuation number. Naturally, the premiums for the physical coverages were based on the Agreed Value.
We were told that the Seaworthy policy did not depreciate items involved in partial losses. That turned out to be incorrect information. They DO depreciate anything involved in a partial loss.
Hurricane Sandy was due to hit the coast of New Jersey in late October 2012. She did indeed slam into the New Jersey coast on Monday, October 29, 2012. The boat is normally docked in Beach Haven, NJ, but our bad weather plan called for us to move the boat to Forked River, NJ, which we did on Friday, October 26, 2012. The boatyard decided to leave the boat in the water. We were not aware but a friend who had mated for us for over 6 years had his boat 2 slips away in the same marina and he stayed on his boat during the storm. Prior to the start of the flooding, he set both boats up so that he could get on and off even if the docks were covered by 4' to 5' of water. He moved back and forth between the boats and adjusted the dock lines. Indeed, he started the engines to take some of the strain off the boatyard's pilings.
Now the wind had started several hours before the flooding began. According to the U.S. Naval Air Station Lakehurst, 8 miles from the boat during the storm, reported that the winds exceeded 90 knots for over 6 hours. About 2 of those hours preceded the flooding so the winds blew the sand and gravel in the boatyard's driveway and sandblasted all of the surfaces on the boat. The hull, the teak decks, the metal parts including the tower. All of the exposed aluminum parts were pitted through their anodize layers and, within a couple of weeks, the grey oxidation covered the entire surface of the metal parts.
We were able to get to our boat on Friday, November 2. The batteries were dead. The bilges were full of vegetative debris, mostly phragmite heads. We do not know to this day how that stuff got into the engine room bilge. We removed 3 35 gallon trash cans of debris from the engine room bilge and another 3 35 gallon cans of debris from the bilge under the cockpit. All five 2000 gph automatic bilge pumps were burned up due to having been run when dry. All but 2 units of the electronics did not work either at all or no longer would handle critical functions. Two deck hatches leaked into the cabin ruining the bunk cushions and woodwork. The cabin had 6" of water in it and that water was contaminated and took the finish off the lower areas of the cabinetry and ruined the carpet.
I promptly called the broker, The Hogans Agency in Chestertown, MD, and was told to contact the insurance company in Annapolis. We filed an informal claim by phone then followed that up with an exhaustive submission of every little detail with pictures and replace/repair costs. Seaworthy paid the first few submissions then started to slow. By July 2013, Seaworthy no longer returned phone calls or e-mails. In the fall of 2013, we retained a maritime attorney and filed suit. We also retained our own surveyor. Seaworthy assigned three (3) surveyors, one after another. The first one on his first visit to the boat showed up in a flashy Ford F-150 pickup. As he was climbing out of his truck, he announced at about 200 decibels that "according to my sources, there is no way this vessel was every exposed to high velocity winds." The others on board when this guy showed up were the Service Manager from Bayliss Boatworks, a premier boatyard, the owner of Outer Banks Marine Electronics and the owner of Dagwood's Marine Canvas. Bayliss' Service Manager said to the adjuster," Buddy, I don't know who you are or who you've talked to but get aboard and take a look at the tower floodlights." The adjuster got on board, took a good look at several of the tower floods, and responded that "the floods are full of sand." Bayliss' manager then asked him how he thought that the sand had gotten into those lights. We heard no more claims of the boat not being in extreme winds. A few days later, that adjuster approved the replacement of the enclosure and seating on the bridge.
Seaworthy then sent a second adjuster. This adjuster made 2 visits to the boat. He was adversarial on both occasions. On his second visit, he brought his own electronics tech and the two of them worked hard to get the claim reduced. The second adjuster was far more interested in telling us that he had flown his private aircraft from his home near Richmond, VA, to Roanoke Island, NC, where the boat was taken for repairs after the storm.
Between Christmas 2013 and New Years Day, Seaworthy sent a 3rd adjuster. This man also came twice. The first time, the boat was at the Jersey Cape Yachts yard where they were going to do a lot of the damage repair. Jersey Cap is normally closed that week but the owner was kind to meet us at the yard and he showed the adjuster around. The adjuster spent about 15 minutes on the boat and then left.
Since a lot of boat equipment was taken off the boat prior to the storm and stored in our house’s garages on the ground level. Most of this equipment got flooded and, worse, the local sewer system backflowed and contaminated and corroded everything in the garage. The insurance company authorized us to move all of the damaged and contaminated equipment into a storage trailer that had been placed in our front yard. The insurance company never reimbursed us for the cost of that trailer.
After dragging their feet on our claim for several more years, we were encouraged to agree to an arbitration to be run by a retired judge. We should have forced the case to court but we caved in and settled leaving us over $100,000 of breakeven.
I would never deal with Seaworthy/GEICO Marine on anything in the future and I advise potential customers to carefully read the policy and the sales materials before buying.
Capt. Lindsay Fuller
Beach Haven, NJ
I have been insured with Boat US for almost three years. I have a 95 21ft center console that is rack stored and only has 300 hrs. Recently had boat put in water and had a fuel leak and fume explosion. After contacting company that day I had initiated a claim. Had master mechanic inspect and submit quote for repairs, motor did not need to be totaled. Claim was for $6k, boat inspected by surveyor who agreed with accident claim, After adjuster got claim the company (unbeknownst to me) informed me that I would only get $1k due to depreciation at 10%/year.....I only wish they had explained this prior to me taking out policy I would have taken a different approach. Do not use this company if you can help it, very poor communication on policy features with me, no one ever spoke to me about the parameters of policy.
Very decitful and not what its cut out to be. On a $27000 cash value policy with a $500 deductible. Hit a floater within 30 days of obtaining policy. On a $6900 repair bill on my motors foot they only want to pay $2300.....which makes a $500 deductible $4500.......finding a lawyer to look into it.....policy states "items" can be depriciated , but not which "items" so they make up rules as they go. No one there can help you without talking to a "supervisor" who is never in office or is not a avalible.. BEWARE! RIP-OFF....only reason for 1 star is because there was no zero-stars!
I am 54 yrs old and this is the worst insurance i have ever delt with. One delay after the other, then want to pay only about half of repair bill. Policy is for cash value of $27000 with $500 deductable. Repair claim on busted foot is $6900, there offer is $2300.....what a joke! How does a $500 deductable turn into a $4500 bill? Policy less than 30 days old. Policy states they can depreciate "items" but no items listed, so they decide when you make claim which "items" to depriciate. 65% depreciaton in less than 30 days!.....contacting lawyer to look into this.....cheapest quotes for cheapest and most useless insurance......BOATERS BEWARE!....find another carrier pay a little more.Had to pick 1-star only because there was no zero stars Pitiful excuse for insurance
I spoke with an agent by the name of "Linda" and had told her my policy recently expired and I needed to renew. I explained to her that I had a death in the family and I missed the payment. She then told me that she would have to re-write the policy and it would cost $200 more per year than my original policy!! My policy was only $422 per year so that was a huge difference. I will be taking my business elsewhere. Very disappointed in this company.
You never know how good an insurance company is until you suffer a serious loss and have to submit a claim. Unfortunately I had the misfortune of such a claim, through no fault of my own, and there were serious injuries as well. From my first telephone call to report the accident on a Sunday evening, I was able to reach someone on the phone quickly who gave me proper information on what to do next, through the entire claims process, the BoatUS claims department was first rate and professional. Fortunately, the injured are fully recovered and all medical bills as well as the boat loss was fully paid promptly. BoatUS is now insuring my new boat.
First time boat owner and sailboat was damaged by Shipyard two weeks after purchase. Spoke with BoatUS and started claim but the lack of communication, follow up, and direction is disappointing to put it mildly. Absolutely zero progress has been made, and it seems like BoatUS is too busy to deal with my sailboat. I would not recommend BoatUS.
We filled a claim the end of Feb. It is now Aug and we still are unsure what they are going to do. They can't give us answer and they keep coming up with excuse after excuse. Just when we think were getting closer they transfer our claim to another supervisor. They must have a ton of supervisors. We keep getting the run around. Our parents boat got damaged too and they have Famers insurance they got there check for $35,000 no questions asked and they got it one and a half months after the roof came down on our boats. BoatUS is the cheapest insurance company that we found when we bought our boat. But you definitely get what you pay for. They may be cheap, but if something happens to your boat all I can say is good luck!! We are now going to hire a lawyer.
The boat was dropped while storing the boat for winter. They had the adjuster say it was a manufacture defect so they did not half to pay the claim.