Are there any statistics supporting the assertion that a traditional stuffing box is safer than a dripless shaft seal (DSS)?
I would think the insurance companies would consider a DSS an additional risk factor and increase the premium if this were true, especially if its failure results in a total loss.
I have read and heard merely anecdotal evidence of DSSs failing, including an article in Boat/US magazine. A DSS is a moving part, which needs periodic inspection and replacement in due time (10 years?).
I am not surprised that a production builder would use a less expensive traditional part based on an unsubstantiated belief among buyers.
I don't think the insurance companies really put that much thought into there premiums. Size, experience and some fictitious chart and out comes the rate. Also they likely have that factored into the original rate for boats that come with them from the factory. I doubt there are that many adding them to make much of a difference statistically and that is how they are supposed to set rates.
Your surprised a production builder would use a less expensive part? Seems to be there modus operandi as long as they can say it is for the benefit of the customer. Also the warranty work is much cheaper as well. I think you are giving the corporations way to much credit, both boat builder and insurance. While customer satisfaction is important, profits rule all decisions.
As far as traditional vs drip-less goes, it really makes a lot of sense. Advance warning, gradual failure and much cheaper repair seems to win out. While I think some of the claims that drip-less will sink your boat are a bit exaggerated. For me looking at used boats it is one less thing to worry about, How long has it been on, and has it been maintained? Don't worry about it just replace the packing is a lot easier. But if the boat had a drip-less I would not run out and change it to a packing, just keep an eye on it and maintain it on a better than recommended schedule and you will be fine. I don't think there is that much of an advantage to swing one way or the other.