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Old 07-20-2013
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Did I make a mistake in reporting a claim to BoatUS?

Earlier in the month, I acquired some collision damage to my bow stem while out sailing. Basically, a chunk missing, and a smallish crack. It didn't seem too serious, just some glasswork, so I didn't go into full emergency mode over it. I decided to deal with it during my next routine haul-out, which was last week.

Inspecting the damage more closely on the hard, my girlfriend actually noticed a subtle dent that indicated damage to the hull-deck joint related to the impact. (The yard didn't notice this at first, but perhaps this is because I gave them too specific of instructions.) The job manager indicated that this is now a pretty expensive repair, and I should call insurance. For some reason, it didn't occur to me to even talk to them, since I mainly have them for liability. Now some data:

1) My purchase price in 2010: $4000, unpowered, in need of some minor maintenance, but basically sound otherwise
2) Surveyor insurance appraisal at the time: $6000
3) Surveyor assessment of average for the model in 2010: $8000 (presumably, the difference due to the fact it was unpowered, and various other more minor things that were noted in the survey)
4) I bought a new outboard, and fixed what I thought were the most serious of the more minor things, as well as making some other miscellaneous improvements, such as electronics
5) Recent damage: Just under $3800ish, by coincidence
6) My hull insurance coverage, not agreed value: $4000 (They say they don't go over the purchase price unless you "justify" it, which I never cared enough about to do.)

My concern now is the following:
A. The boat might be deemed a total constructive loss. That seems bad.
B. My insurance might be canceled, which would be a major problem for me, since I primarily need it for liability, for my marina. An unanticipated $4000 hurts, but it's not really make-or-break.
C. BoatUS has said I can't do anything to the damaged area, and realistically, it might take weeks for the claim to go through. But my boat is on the hard now, ready for work.
D. I had just set up new insurance (although I had been insured with them previously, on a similar policy) a few days before the accident, and I was still on the binder, and I'm actually worried they might think this was fishy, especially as I didn't report it right away. (I've never had a claim on a boat before though.)

Here's my thinking: $4000 is nothing. I need to do a full re-rig at some point, and that's probably going to cost at least that. I also need a new set of sails, and that's going to be in a similar range as well. And my 1972 gelcoat is pretty much done, and is going to need to be painted at some point. I don't need the $4000, if it really comes down to it; I just thought at the time, hey, I have insurance, may as well use it, and it will certainly open up the budget a bit more for other stuff.

Currently, the next step is a surveyor should be coming out, but after that, it still might take weeks for anything to happen, since this is the insurance company's "most busy time."

Did I screw up really badly by reporting this to BoatUS?

Is it possible to retract an insurance claim, and have everyone pretend like nothing happened?

Has anyone had a similar experience that might cast some light on what I should do here?

Last edited by aaronwindward; 07-20-2013 at 05:40 AM. Reason: Added #6, clarified C
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Old 07-20-2013
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Re: Did I make a mistake in reporting a claim to BoatUS?

The Boat US folks are really easy to talk to. Now that you have reported it you might as well just ask them what your options are.

I would suspect that you can do just about anything you want except insure the boat for more than what it is worth.
IE fix it yourself and have it re-appraised.
Let them total it , buy it back for $500, collect the cash and have it fixed then reappraised.

Once it has been totaled it gets a salvage mark on the title. You should find out what has to be done to fix that.
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Old 07-20-2013
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Re: Did I make a mistake in reporting a claim to BoatUS?

I agree that Boat US is easy to work with. I don't think that reporting something to them locks you into finalizing a claim. I once started a claim with them and decided later to fix/bear it myself.
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Old 07-20-2013
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Re: Did I make a mistake in reporting a claim to BoatUS?

Our boat went the way of a "CTL" about 10 years ago. Boat insured for $7K, repair estimate around $5K, bought it back for $800, received a check for $6200 from Boat US. All of that was easy.
What was not easy was that the following year we were unable to find any insurer to take us, not one. The "CTL" mark within 3 years prohibits you from getting most any insurer to take you on. You really don't want to go down this road if you don't have to.
I believe that insurers will wave the "CTL" flag if your repair estimate is 50% - 75% of the insured value so keep that firmly in mind. In some ways you may be better off lowering your repair estimate and just eating the difference - so you can still get insurance.

In our case I could have, and did the repairs a bit cheaper than the estimate. We replaced our roller furling with a new Furlex 101 and a new genoa from doyle. New bow pulpit as well. We also had a section of hull/deck joint that was ground away that I ended up repairing myself. I could not find a fiberglass person to commit to doing the work. I believe that even if I did find someone it would have taken twice as long as it took me since the summer is their busy season.
My suggestion is that you do the fiberglass work yourself and don't include most of the cost for that in your insurance claim. It is not very difficult work.
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Pictures of damaged area(s) might help.

But no, I don't think you made a mistake by reporting it to Boat US. See if you can work it out with them whereby your boat is not "CTL"d.
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Last edited by CalebD; 07-20-2013 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 07-20-2013
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Re: Did I make a mistake in reporting a claim to BoatUS?

Basically, I see no way a good end is going to come from this claim. I need two things to happen:

1) I want to keep the vessel; the insured value or the resale value have no connection to the boat's actual personal utility to me.
2) I need to keep liability insurance. Without it, I can't keep my boat in a local marina, which basically means I can't have the boat.

I see about zero realistic possibility here that they will give me a substantial pay-out that could possibly compensate for losing insurance and/or getting 'salvaged' status. That's ignoring the massive inconvenience and expense of a weeks-long claims process while the boat sits on the hard at a boatyard 1.5 hours away from where I live and work.

Basically I think I fundamentally misunderstood how hull insurance works. If you actually want the boat (as opposed to just a cash-out), and your boat is insured for a "small" value (under $10K), you basically need to accept that you're not going to be able to file non-trivial claims without losing the boat or your insurance.

Concretely, my hull insurance, at $4K, is mostly useless: That's a trivial amount of money, in the grand scheme of things; a routine bottom job alone is 1/3 of that! But it puts you at tremendous risk of having a relatively minor (cost-wise) accident put you into CTL, which for someone like me, that needs insurance, basically takes your boat away.

Hull insurance is for if your boat is actually valued at a large number, or if you are perfectly happy "buying a new one" if the old one is damaged--with the usual caveats about deprecation and buy-back transaction costs, meaning most likely it won't be quite as good. If the amount of "sweat equity" or non-valuable improvements (eg electronics) you invest is any significant fraction of the boat cost, hull insurance is moot.

Does anyone see anything seriously wrong with my thinking?

I'm thinking I'm going to try to retract my claim and find some other way to come up with $4K. This will suck, because I have another unexpected expense as well, as well as some additional expenses I've already committed to.

A secondary consideration is I think it's possible that the $4K is larger than it might need to be because it was specifically estimated as "an insurance job." I definitely need the work, because it's a major seaworthiness issue. But maybe if the job manager knew I was going to foot it myself, he could find a way to make it cheaper, possibly by cutting out the cosmetic portions of it, or letting me do some of the work. I'm not exactly sure how to bring this up, but I don't see any other way out.
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Old 07-20-2013
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Re: Did I make a mistake in reporting a claim to BoatUS?

Why don't you post some photos of the damage? It does not sound like it's not damaged that bad. Just guessing by your posts, it does seem you see things much worse/bigger then some of us. Not trying to sound harsh, really.
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Old 07-20-2013
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Re: Did I make a mistake in reporting a claim to BoatUS?

BoatUS is really decent to work with. However, you can retract your claim but it will not be like it never happened. It will still be on the record and because it is an accident they may require another survey when it is time to renew. This to be sure that the damages were fixed and still insurable. Bright side is you keep insurance but be prepared for a slightly higher premium next year.

You can work with BoatUS to keep it from being "salvage". I did on mne where I cvered the interior damage and they covered the hull damage. The following year they required a survey, and because I did not provide one - they dropped me.

Just be candid with them - they;ll do their best to work with you.
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Old 07-21-2013
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Re: Did I make a mistake in reporting a claim to BoatUS?

Quote:
Originally Posted by deniseO30 View Post
Why don't you post some photos of the damage? It does not sound like it's not damaged that bad. Just guessing by your posts, it does seem you see things much worse/bigger then some of us. Not trying to sound harsh, really.
I'll post them later once I find my mini-USB cable, wherever it is.

Basically, there's damage directly on the stem, consisting of a big concentric-circles collision split, and nearby cracking. There's also delamination on the hull-deck joint, where there's now a subtle gap between the hull and deck. The yard says it seems localized. The yard quotes it as 15 hours to deal with the stem damage, and 10 hours to deal with the hull-deck joint. Most of the quote goes towards grinding and applying new layup; the rest is prep and finishing. It comes out to about $3600, at a labor rate of $107/hour, including $717 in materials, and tax and fees.

I had originally thought it would be closer to $1000, because I didn't notice the hull-deck joint damage, and I didn't realize how extensive the collision point damage was until it was on the hard.

It's major damage, no doubt about it; but as far as I'm concerned, it's completely fixable to a like-new state, for far less than it would cost to get a new boat with the upgrades I've added to this one. And it's still considerably less expensive than the eventual full re-rig is going to be.
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Old 07-21-2013
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Re: Did I make a mistake in reporting a claim to BoatUS?

Sounds to me as though you understand the caveats of having hull insurance pretty clearly.
I'm with Denise, post some photos of the hull/deck joint damage. Fiberglass work is not really very difficult to do. We might be able to help you getting the repair down to under $500 in materials and only your time spent.
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Old 07-21-2013
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Re: Did I make a mistake in reporting a claim to BoatUS?

Sounds like you should just have liability insurance. As has been suggested, work with BoatUS and get this resolved. Then drop the hull insurance. And since you seem willing to pay for the repair, don't see why you can't begin working on the repair to get back in the water ASAP.
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