so 6 years later here I am.
New family into sailing, all excited by it, meet some very very helpfully sailors in our marina that helped us learn the ropes
Then a year later, the bottom fell out, the entire family is devastated.
Simple and to the point
We had our sail boat at a public marina for over a year.
A month ago there was a storm.
A boat owner that has two sail boats moored in open waters, one new and the other older that has a for sale sign. The older boat broke free, wedged itself between the dock and our stern. Their outboard pounder our boat so hard that it knocked off their outboard into the ocean. We got estimates ranging from $20,000 to $10,000.
Unfortunately or stupidly we do not have insurance. Their insurance company wrote off their boat and instructed the surveyor to tell us that the cause of damages to our boat was, yes........ “Act of God” and we are SOL.
My thinking is
1. If it is an act of god then why did their insurance company pay for their damages?
2. If they are claiming that it is an act of god and they took ever reasonable precaution against the storm. Did they take the same amount of care on their older boat as they did on the newer one?
Any advice is appreciated, every time I thick about this whole situation, I feel sick to my gut. Already lost a lot of sleep and it may be the end of my sailing days.
It's important to understand the basis for insurance, something that seems to be missing from a lot of the posts in the original thread. (BTW, a new thread would probably get a better response, and many won't read to the end to see the new issue)
Without insurance companies in the picture, the law is fairly straight forward...
If you damage your own property, you are responsible to pay for it if you chose to, or you can throw it out, sell it, whatever. It's yours, its your fault, its your problem.
If you damage someone else's property, either directly (bad driving and hitting there car) or indirectly through negligence or incompetence (you parked on a hill without setting the break and the car rolled down into someone else's car) you are responsible to pay for repair or replacement. It's your fault, not theirs, and they should not take the loss for your actions.
If your property damages someone else's due to an "Act of God" or "Force of Nature" you are not responsible under the law, stuff happens that is out of our control. A tornado picks up your car and smashes it into someone else's car. No one is at fault, it was an odd and unforeseeable circumstance that couldn't be avoided. You both are responsible only for the damage to your own vehicles.
Insurance is simply paying someone else a little at a time, so that if the need arises, they can make the large payout for you in the even of damage.
There are two kinds of insurance, generally called liability and comprehensive. They both have different rules.
Liability is basically saying "If you owe anyone else money due to damages to their person or property per the law, the insurance company will pay for you instead." This protects you from having to make a large payout to someone else, but doesn't offer you anything to repair or replace your own property, that's your responsibility. If you get in an accident, liability will pay for the other car, but not yours. This is required on cars in most states to protect the other drivers as most people do not have the cash to pay for repairs or replacement of a $50,000 vehicle.
Comprehensive, on the other hand, is only to pay for your own property, and has no bearing on payments to other people for their loss. These policies can have various provisions or restrictions, which also influences the price the companies charge for the coverage. These can cover "Act of God" type incidences, or cover you if the other guy is at fault, but doesn't have insurance and has no way to come up with the money owed. These various "options" all effect the price of the insurance, as the possibility of payouts goes up.
So in this case, I do not think you will get anywhere with the "but you payed for their boat" argument, as they are under different policies. If this falls into an "Act of God" category, and the person would not be responsible for damage to your boat under the law without insurance, then the other guy is not responsible to pay you, so the insurance company also does not need to pay you for them.
Under their comprehensive coverage though, they have been paying a little every month so that if something happens which is covered under their comprehensive policy, they will get paid for the damages. If there policy covers "Act of God", then they get paid for there loss on the comprehensive coverage, but you still get nothing because under the law, you are not owed anything.
I think the only place you have a case to argue this is should this event be classified as an "Act of God" or not? I'm no expert on this subject, but it seems to me that high winds that are normal for an area do not qualify. If the "storm" hit 50 mph winds, and its normal to see that much wind 6 - 10 times a year, I wouldn't think that qualifies. To me that would mean you should be prepared for that high of winds, and this would go to negligence.
If however, the storm had 100mph winds, and winds above 70 only occur once every 10 - 20 years, then yes, this could likely be considered as an "Act of God".
So I think the important thing is to find out how bad the storm was, how unusual or usual that is in your area, and what insurance companies are allowed to classify as "Act of God". Then you can decide if you have a case. (That shouldn't take to long looking around the net.)
Also, be very careful of using the word "STORM" in any communication about the incident, written or verbal as that brings up images of hurricanes, tornados and mass catastrophe, especially to the average non-boating desk jocky at the insurance agency. Was it really a "STORM" or was it "seasonably expected winds that should be accounted for when securing a vessel to a mooring ball" or some such non-catastrophe image inducing Verbiage.
If you think you have a case, write it up as factual and unemotional as possible (and without the word "STORM") and send it to the insurance company. If that doesn't help, pay a lawyer for an hour or two to write up something on letterhead with lots of legal words to send to the insurance agent. As stated before, insurance agencies can loose a lot more then they save if you go to court, even if they win. This shows your serious, and you don't need to higher a lawyer long term or even get a really good one at this point.
HOWEVER: As I said, I am no expert at this, but I do feel I have a decent understanding of insurance and wanted to share it. I night be wrong. Don;t take this as legal advice. Your mileage may very, use at your own risk, blah blah blah. Others will likely correct what I said, listen to them as I'm sure they know more, or at least it will all be their fault then!
Oh, and good luck, I hope this one bad incident doesn't put you off boating forever!