Haggling with the insurance company by jellyby jelly

Item posted: Saturday 8th December , 2012

Haggling with the insurance company by jelly

One of my first memories of boat ownership, back in December 2008, was phoning around trying to get a reasonable quote to insure my new pride and joy. A lot of insurers said they couldn't quote for a live aboard vessel, but after a bit of searching I found a reasonable quote with GJW Direct. I stuck with them for three years, as I was very happy with some of their policies, but last year I heard good things about Bishop Skinner from my friends here at Western Horizon Yachts. I phoned them up last December and they knocked a huge chunk off the renewal GJW gave me, so I switched.

However, the clock was ticking: when I insured Milestone in 2008, GJW added that they would require a new out-of-water survey before renewal in 2012. When I swapped to Bishop Skinner last year, they carried over the same terms. In hindsight I should have negotiated this with them as I was in a prime position to do so, but it didn't occur to me at the time - I was more than happy with the cost savings alone.

It's now December 2012, and my insurance renewal is up again, this time with the added caveat of that damn out-of-water survey that's likely to cost me about £400 plus a lift-out (£360), plus any work that needs doing. Gulp. Annoyed by my earlier lack of negotiation with Bishop Skinner, I phoned them up last week and put it quite bluntly: I'd like to renew with them, but don't want the hassle and expense of an out-of-water survey. I've spoken to some other people with boats of a similar age, whose insurers haven't required a new survey and/or they're happy to waive such conditions. So, I'd love to renew with them, but only if they can remove the request for a new survey.

Bishop Skinner came back to me later that day, having spoken to their underwriters, and said they would like me to send a copy of the last survey (undertaken in 2005 by the previous owner) and a copy of all maintenance history from the previous two years. They would then forward it to their underwriters for review, and reach a verdict. I was a bit concerned about the maintenance part as although Milestone has had a lot of work done to her since I bought her, it has all been with the help of family & friends with a marine engineering background so I have very little paperwork/invoices surrounding the work. So, I went one step further and provided them with a comprehensive list documenting all maintenance and work done to Milestone in my four years of ownership. I explained why there weren't any invoices, and listed some websites where they could see evidence of this work - for example, my columns here for Western Horizon.

It was a nervous wait for them to get back to me after reviewing all of this, but they sent me an email the next day saying they were happy with what I had sent them and they would postpone the requirement for a new survey until 2014. Success!

So there we have it: insurers aren't all big, greedy, faceless corporations. I was very impressed with the customer service Bishop Skinner gave me and am very pleased with their speedy, common-sense response. Not only does maintenance pay off in terms of keeping your boat happy and in turn keeping you safe, but carrying out comprehensive maintenance and recording all the work you do could help you in future situations like this. Just remember, always negotiate... I wonder what they’ll say when I come to negotiate again in 2014!


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Article by jelly

jelly shares insights into the life and loves of a liveaboard writer, sailor and young entrepreneur.

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