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whichwaysup

Learn from my mistakes - Insurance Learnings

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I am not an expert, I thing the insurance company is pretending the crack developed over time rather than from a single accidental occurrence. I think they are playing games. if the boat would have sunk before he made it back to the hill the insurance company would have likely paid up.Bottom line Insurance company wiggling out of taking care of the boat

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Something I don't understand. The Ins company insured the boat with no inspection, so they can only assume the boat was in normal usable condition. Maybe a required inspection on their part would've discovered the issue or verified that its in good shape.  Why do you now have to prove to them how the damage occurred? Bottom line is the boat is damaged, possibly unsafe and they blindly insured it. Im sure there is some legal angle to all that, but Im not an Attorney. 

Here's my take away from this, if I ever need to file a claim. My boat is damaged because of "X", Im an honest person........................................

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Sudden, direct, physical loss. I Was a cat ( property @ auto) adjuster and had to explain the SDPL quite a few times. I have no knowledge on the marine side but it sounds like to me they are considering your claim as long term damage, neglect.  When the policy does not state named peril , its usually up to the policy holder to prove the claim is a covered loss.

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The last few comments make me glad I go through a broker for my boat insurance.  Auto are simple as everyone has one but boats are very limited in perspective.  I feel that with a good broker that they are able to help fight for you with the insurance company.  Hopefully the broker knows both boats and insurance so you stand a better chance.

I had my lower go out and when taking it apart they saw a tooth broke off of a gear that might have been caused by impact.  Spoke to my broker and he told me what to do and walked me through it.  In the end the lower was covered.  Would having a broker helped with your hull, I do not know but it would not have hurt. 

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13 hours ago, hurricane said:

Something I don't understand. The Ins company insured the boat with no inspection, so they can only assume the boat was in normal usable condition. Maybe a required inspection on their part would've discovered the issue or verified that its in good shape.  Why do you now have to prove to them how the damage occurred? Bottom line is the boat is damaged, possibly unsafe and they blindly insured it. Im sure there is some legal angle to all that, but Im not an Attorney. 

Here's my take away from this, if I ever need to file a claim. My boat is damaged because of "X", Im an honest person........................................

Hurricane, I think you nailed it here.   I carry both comprehensive and collision insurance.   It seems like an easy "fix" for the insurance company to ONLY offer comprehensive with a qualified survey from one of their vendors prior to offering the insurance.  Heck, even make it a requirement that a new survey must be done every XX years to determine insurability.  That would go a LONG way to avoid this issue.  Folks unwilling to pay for the survey wouldn't get the survey and wouldn't expect to be covered for an issue like this.  For folks who want this coverage, it will be worth the extra cost.  This won't eliminate all of the inherrent ambiguity, but it would at least eliminate, at least legally, the possiblity that the damage was pre-existing or was "normal wear and tear."   

Without that, it isn't a hard mental leap to suggest that the insurance company, in this case Progressive, knowingly offer insurance for claims that they know that they will deny.  I am not accusing the insurance companies of doing this knowingly, but conflict of interest is both real and perceived.   They knew my boat was 17 years old when they offered insurance.  They did nothing to determine or verify the condition of the boat prior to offering comprehensive coverage.  When an issue is discovered, their default position is that it is "wear and tear" unless I either a) know EXACTLY what caused it   2) Lie about what caused it  or c) am willing to (on my own dime) hire a company who will determine cause (if they can) and, even if they do, the insurance company my not even accept that evidence to honor the claim. 

 One of the key differences between auto and boat incidents is that the damage caused to a boat doesn't necessarily have to leave a mark. 

Take the wake issue we described - would anyone disagree that, if you hit a wake hard enough that it could cause damage to the boat?  Rip off the trolling motor?  Puncture a gas tank?  Break stringers loose?   Over a wide range of the thousands of boat manufacturers out there (who are all treated the same by the insurance company at point of coverage), the probability of this damage obviously varies, but if a wake caused the damage, it should be covered, as the damage was caused by a sudden, direct, physical loss (thanks for that education, Steve!)

 However, unless the insured a) realizes the damage immediately or b) is absolutely positive that it is the cause, or c) willing to be less than honest in his/her statements, the claim will be denied.  Ergo, the boat, by the very nature of its age isn't really eligible for certain benefits that a newer boat would be eligible for, even if the damage is identical and the cause were equally ambigious. 

 

Now, enter the fact that there is no objective third party involved in the decisioning of the claim, and you have the fox fully in control of the henhouse - a company who benefits from claim denial that is fully in charge of the decisioning of a claim that has an ambigious cause, and who, by their own admission, lacks the expertise and facts required to make an accurate determination of cause.  

You could even make the case that the Insurance company has a financial motivation NOT to require a survey up front, as it would reduce the # of policies it offers, many of those would not offer the full benefit to the covered person anyway, and therefore, guaranteed profit with very little risk of cost.

My goal here is not to flame the insurance companies.   It is to help those who are operating used boats and have insured them better understand the way their insurance works from the point of view of someone who thought he was covered and found the hard way that he was not.   Whether I agree with the reality or not is of little consequence - at the end of the day, I need to do things differently next time to ENSURE I'm covered for what I should be covered for.

And heck, it may not even be a broken stringer.  It could be an easier repair than I fear.   I'll keep you all posted once I start getting more info.

Ah, first world problems.  :)

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2 hours ago, mulligan said:

The last few comments make me glad I go through a broker for my boat insurance.  Auto are simple as everyone has one but boats are very limited in perspective.  I feel that with a good broker that they are able to help fight for you with the insurance company.  Hopefully the broker knows both boats and insurance so you stand a better chance.

I had my lower go out and when taking it apart they saw a tooth broke off of a gear that might have been caused by impact.  Spoke to my broker and he told me what to do and walked me through it.  In the end the lower was covered.  Would having a broker helped with your hull, I do not know but it would not have hurt. 

You nailed it, mulligan. Yacht owners that know & understand this logic make up at least 90% of my agency's policyholders.   

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Gus do you think that it being denied may have been your presentation of some doubt (and honesty) of how it may of happened? 

What if you had hit the wake and immediately felt the floor flex and had bilge pump going off soon after? After talking to them, do you feel that would have yielded a different outcome? 

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36 minutes ago, justfish said:

Gus do you think that it being denied may have been your presentation of some doubt (and honesty) of how it may of happened? 

What if you had hit the wake and immediately felt the floor flex and had bilge pump going off soon after? After talking to them, do you feel that would have yielded a different outcome? 

No question.  Had I said, " I hit a wake yesterday and checked my boat and I can see that it caused a crack, now fix it," I suspect it would have been paid.  The problem is that I couldnt say that honestly.   I honestly dont know what the cause was or when exactly it happened, only that when I bought the boat it was not there, it is now, and that there is no way this is normal wear and tear.  Its an 11 inch crack in my hull.  

 

A quick update, I had a boat builder, repairer that the adjuster mentioned (he isnt allowed to recommend) come over and take a look.  He checked the boat out top to bottom, inside and out, more thoroughly than I would have expected.  Spent about an hour here.  Heres what he found:

1)  The boat is in excellent shape, structurally everywhere else besides the rear port area inquestion.  No other spider cracks, stress indicators, or any other issues.  The boat is in excellent shape, except this spot.

2) No repairs have been done to the hull and covered up.  The gelcoat appears to be original from one end to the other, no halos or other indications of repair.  

3)  The damage is caused by a stringer that has broken loose from the hull.  He showed me the cracks from the inside, which are ragged and the fiberglass is broken on top of the stringer, along with the tabbing attaching it to the hull.

4)  The damage, in his opinion was caused by an impact.  The cracks are ragged, it isnt normal wear and tear.  It is also confined, he thinks, to the rear port quadrant, fairly easy to fix if they cut out the livewell.  

5)  He didnt rule out the wake, but because of the location, but suspects an impact while the boat was on the trailer is more likely.  On november 11th, I hit a pothole with that trailer so deep it hit the axle.  I had three guys following me with their boat and they called me to see if I was okay.  So, at least I have witnesses to the event.

He is putting this in writing.  we will see what happens.  Fix is somewhere between 3500 and 5k.

 

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2 hours ago, whichwaysup said:

On november 11th, I hit a pothole with that trailer so deep it hit the axle.  I had three guys following me with their boat and they called me to see if I was okay.  So, at least I have witnesses to the event.

That is key info IMO. You may have something to work with in order for Progressive to consider overturning your coverage denial. Ask the people who saw your trailer hit that pothole to write letters on your behalf attesting to what they saw. The more detail, the better. Go take pics of that pothole yourself. Submit all of that plus the repairers report to your adjuster....ASAP!!

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I actually just realized that I posted the trip report in the mid atlantic section: 

and  checked with the guys.  They remember it.  may not change anything but maybe I am getting closer to understanding the cause.

Screenshot_2017-12-05-21-10-24.png

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Just an update here, for those interested.  Got a call from the adjuster today.  Seems that they are going to send a surveyor out to do a causation analysis and get a third party opinion.  Thats great news.  Either way, now, I will be happy about the outcome.  Either they determine the cause is covered and I get the boat fixed, or they dtermine it isn't covered and I can trust that the decision was a fair one based on facts and expert opinions.  

 

Will keep you all posted once the survey is done.  Weather has been mercifully miserable here.  Hope I can get her fixed soon.  

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Sounds like you are making progress. It is a shame that they took the denial stance to start without  having a qualified adjuster look at the issue. I hope the second expert agrees with the last guy. 

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Wondering if there is a possibility that the vehicle policy would covet the boat damage since it may have been damaged during the pothole event???

My understanding from my agent on all of our towables is that they are covered by the vehicle covrrage while being towed. We’ve gone back and forth over this as I have also been advised that it is only covered when connected to vehicle.  We had a boat and trailer come completely loose once and auto insurance denied claim because it was mot connected to behicle when damage occured. Their position was that even though we were towing it prior to the trailer coming off, the boat coverage should pick up when it was no longer a part if the vehicle. Of course, the boat only had liability coverage because it was an older boat. 

I would explore the vehicle coverage route. 

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Good advice, rubble! I know very little about auto insurance coverage but that may be a viable option for whichwaysup to explore if Progressive denies his claim!! 

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Most insurance will cover liability on the boat while towing but no replacement or repair of the boat. Know this from experience.

If the boat hits a car and your fault they will cover the other guy but not your boat.

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My agent has explained to me that the vehicle coverage is the same for the towed. If you comp/coll on vehicle, towed has it as well. We haven’t had to test that statement and hope not to but we’ve hashed on it a lot since we are towing boats, utility trailers, RVs, dump trailers etc with mixes of personal and commercial autos and towables. 

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Gus,

I really hate that you are dealing with this.  You're honesty and ethics alone will payoff when you lay your head down at night.  There are many people on site forum that will most likely be more than helpful when it comes to; How do I get this fixed and what is it going to cost me.  It will work out, and you will be back on the water before you know it.....

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I'm sorry your boat is busted up. I love my 02 21' redfisher but I know it's not the strongest hull based on what I've seen so far. I understand the reasoning behind building them as light as possible though.

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Hey all -

I wanted to provide an update to this, as several of you have asked.   Here's the latest:

In the end, the insurance claim was denied and although I wasn't terribly happy about that outcome, I have to admit that it appears to be a fair and accurate decision.   My policy (and yours as well, if you are with Progressive) does not cover manufacturers defects, structural deterioration, or basically any damage that doesn't involve a specific event involving an impact.   

I fought Progressive pretty fiercely when they indicated it wouldn't be covered, because I knew that this crack wasn't there when I bought the boat a year ago, and the boat was in near pristine shape otherwise - no abuse, no neglect, etc.   How in the world could you say a sudden crack didn't have a sudden cause???  To their credit, after enough battling, they agreed to get a third party surveyor to do a causation analysis.   What I learned may be of interest to all of you.

First of all, let me AGAIN reinforce the importance of getting a survey on a boat BEFORE you buy it REGARDLESS of the perceived condition it is in.   Contrary to Dino's comments that "I missed something" - the surveyor admitted that the boat was in exactly the shape that I thought it was when I bought it.  There were no signs of repairs, no signs of abuse, the boat was pristine.   So, how did this happen?

The surveyor inspected the entire boat, then zoned in on the area in question.  He tapped on the hull below the crack and moved forward and instantly he identified the issue (he hadn't looked inside the boat yet, and I hadn't told him what I knew).  Without seeing the inside, he was able to identify a) that the stringer was separated from the hull, and b) almost exactly where the issue started and stopped.   A year ago, 10 taps by an expert would have saved me a lot of money.

He then looked down into the bilge and even he had a hard time seeing the problem initially.  It's not something the average person would be able to see easily unless a) they knew what to look for or b) already knew there was an issue to look for.   

At the end of the day, here's what he told me:

1) This issue has been an issue since the boat was built.  In fact, it was the very fact that the boat WAS babied that hid the problem for so long.  

2)  The cause, in his opinion, was that, somehow, at the time of manufacturing, the stringer was never properly bonded to the hull.  He had several theories about how that might happen, but they are just that - theories.  I spoke with Ray at MBC about the various theories and Ray felt pretty strongly that the way these boats are built wouldn't allow for them to occur the way the surveyor suspected.  I have no doubt that MBC builds great boats and has great processes to ensure quality - there's a reason we're all on this forum.  But in my boat's case, something went wrong and the stringer wasn't bonded properly in the back.  Over the years, that stringer had come loose, starting in the back and the separation began working its way forward.

3)  The surveyor was pretty clear that this is a common problem among ALL boat manufacturers.  To his knowledge, it wasn't something common to MBC, but really all manufacturers occasionally have issues like this - it's rare for each manufacturer, but for the industry, it's not all that uncommon.   I just got "lucky" and got one of those that had this issue.   I assumed that the boat's condition and care protected me from some structural "unknown" lurking below the decks, but in fact, the condition actually worked against me.   Had this boat been used more heavily during its life, the issue would have emerged long before now.   

4)  For $500 bucks, I could have found this issue before I bought the boat and had it addressed before the purchase, not purchased it, or had the cost of the fix included in the purchase price.  Instead, what was a very good deal a year ago will now be a fair-to-not great deal in the end. 

I want to be clear, however - While everything the surveyor found and told me indicates that this issue was caused by some issue during manufacturing (i.e. the stringer not bonding), I am not deriding the quality of MBC boats.  My last MA was 30 years old and structurally strong as a moose.   No manufacturing process is defect free, but I think we can all agree that MBC boats have less than their fair share of these.    

The whole point of this thread is - even when you buy a top brand, even when you buy a used boat in great condition - GET A SURVEY.  Things happen, even in the best of the brands out there and sometimes they can lurk undetected for 17 years before manifesting themselves.   

So, now I need a little help.   I'm going to fix this boat - I love it and plan to use it for a long long time - it meets the needs of my family perfectly for the areas I fish.   I just need a HIGH quality place to take it on that is willing to document the fix start to finish so that, if I ever do sell it, the buyer will have confidence in the hull.

I'd love to have Bob at Inshore Marine take a look - if anyone knows him and can point him to this thread, I'd love his opinion and it may even be worth my effort to get it down there to fix.   I've tried a few places up here in NC, but am having a hard time even getting responses.

Help me get her fixed.  :)

 

 

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For those interested - here's what the issue looks like from the inside.   To orient you, imagine this:

You are laying on the rear deck with your head down in the splashwell, your feet are towards the bow, your head is smashed up against the engine/steering hydraulic lines/throttle cable.  You are looking from center stern towards the port side of the boat, then slightly forward towards the bow.   The issue runs along the port side stringer from the transom forward to about the back 1/3rd of the boat.  For those of you with MAs, the separation appears to stop about a foot or two before the front edge of the rear deck/seating.   

EDIT:  The pictures came up in a different order from what I uploaded, so I've corrected the order.  Look at the pics from last to first to follow along.

The second to last pic is looking at a 45 degree angle from the splash well access towards the port and shows the best view of the separation.  You can see some pink foam, which represents a fairly new widening of the crack.  Jump up to the first and last pics and you can see separation of the tabbing that is much older (according to the surveyor).  He could see both new and old separation, consistent with a long time issue that has gotten significantly worse recently.  

 

The third and fourth pics are looking more forward, you can see the center baitwell in the left of the pics and the port livewell in the upper left hand side of the pics.   IN the left center of the pic, you can see the crack running forward, and in the dead center, you can see what appears to be the area where the crack runs perpendicularly across the stringer.   

The first and last pics show the tabbing where the fiberglass cloth that covers the stringer is (supposed to be) bonded to the hull.  You can see what looks like an oyster shell kind edge where the tabbing is pulling away from the hull - this was likely the first separation that grew worse over time.

 

 

Tabbing separation - broad view.jpg

Stringer separation port side 1.jpg

Stringer separation transverse port side 2.jpg

Stringer separation best view.jpg

Tabbing separation - close up.jpg

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I realized I never showed the external view of the crack - I marked the edges of it with the black - you can see it runs about 11' from just in front of the port trim tab forward, right along the strake.  

20171204_102353.jpg

20171204_102356.jpg

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