We are planning to depart on our circumnavigate soon and we'd like to have boat and health insurance in place before we go. The options are a little overwhelming, so we need some help figuring this out. Can you offer any advice?
Sue & Larry respond:
We find that insurance is often a very complicated issue, not to mention a royal pain in the transom. When shopping for boat insurance for world cruising, you'll likely find geographic restrictions dependent upon the season and there may be further requirements placed upon you regarding the minimum number and skill level of the crew for certain bluewater legs. Points like these are extremely important to recognize and understand about the policy you finally choose. It's also important to remember such details as these once you're away on your adventure as you don't want to give cause for a future claim to not be paid.
If you could afford to lose the financial investment you had in your boat without being ruined, then our advice to you would be to consider going without insurance on the boat itself. Many world cruisers opt to take the thousands of dollars per year they would spend on insurance and invest it in a "disaster fund," or use it wisely to decrease the odds of suffering a disaster. They upgrade their ground-tackle, install more bilge pumps, etc. In this instance, though, we think you would be wise to still carry liability insurance.
Many cruisers we know use Bluewater Yacht Insurance as this company is geared towards world cruising and allows crews of just two for passages. The company can be reached at: 800/866-8906 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. (The company's West Coast office is 800/655-9244 or email@example.com.)
Some other companies to try for international cruising insurance are as follows:
Jack Martin and Associates (www.jackmartin.com)
American Marine Insurance Services (www.insureamericanmarine.com)
Alden Insurance (www.aldeninsurance.com)
When it comes to choosing international health insurance, there are many, many options. You can go with a plain vanilla type of policy like you would have in the US, or can add varying degrees of additional services. Some companies offer medical training for crewmembers prior to departure and work together with you to ensure that your medical kit is packed with the right drugs and medicaments. Some of the same companies offer a 24-hour emergency medical line staffed by physicians, and some can even arrange an airlift at sea if necessary.
The plain vanilla type of policies can be obtained through Blue Cross/Blue Shield at 800/481-2583 or Bluewater Insurance (listed above). Many other companies will cover you during international travel. You'll have to do some phoning to determine which ones have a package that fits your needs exactly.
Of course there are fancier, more full-service policies available. Here are a couple of companies you can try regarding that option.
Medex Assistance Corp. (www.Medexassist.com)
An important thing to keep in mind regarding health insurance is that once you leave North America, health care costs drop substantially. It may be cheaper in the long run to choose high deductibles, pay for the incidentals yourself, and keep your premium at its lowest possible rate. Best of luck with your upcoming cruise.