Joined: Feb 26, 2016
Location: Wrightsville Beach
|Posted: Thu Nov 10, 2016 1:03 pm Post subject: Nothing worse than a thief!
|Much as we value trust in our lives, there will always be those out there who don't. I'm talking about theft here, particularly theft of "gear" from your vessel. Theft of the entire vessel is an entirely different discussion, but know that, if your vessel was stolen, and you had gear aboard, that gear should also be covered 1) if it was aboard when she was stolen, and 2) you have coverage for personal effects / fishing gear included in your policy.
Back to the theft of your gear. First thing to be mindful of is actually having coverage for "personal effects" and/or "fishing gear" in your policy. Most insurance carriers include a basic limit for personal effects as part of their product, others may offer it as an option you may purchase for additional premium. In most cases, you may choose to increase that limit to match your needs, again at additional premium (but it's pretty cheap coverage, comparatively). Most carriers use a $250 deductible for personal effects, some use $500. It is important that you ask your agent if "fishing gear" is included in the definition of "personal effects." If it is not, then you may wish to add "fishing gear" coverage to accommodate that gap in coverage. I recommend that you select a limit that would cover the maximum exposure (total dollar value) you feel you may have, if you left your gear aboard the vessel. Rare is the occasion that a thief would/could take your gear when you are aboard, but I have had many instances where a captain has gone into the Walmart to get some gear, or docked and had lunch inside a local waterside restaurant. Another important factor with gear coverage (be it "fishing gear" coverage or "personal effects" coverage) is how the insurance carrier will VALUE your gear at time of loss settlement. Many carriers use an Actual Cash Value theory - meaning they will only pay the actual cash value of the items at the time they were stolen. So your 5 year old 80-wide would cost you $700 to replace with a new one, but the carrier will only value at, say, $500. Then they apply your deductible and you get a check for $250, leaving you a bit short at the tackle shop when you replace it. What is preferred, if you can get it, is Agreed Value loss settlement on personal effects/fishing gear. Be sure to ask about this - not all carriers will offer it, but best to ask up front.
Now to the theft itself, and whether it is covered or not. You would think "Hey, someone stole my gear, I have coverage for that." However, most carriers (not all, so you should ask your agent about this) have a "mysterious disappearance" exclusion in their personal effects section. This is very standard. What this means is, in order for you to have coverage for your stolen gear, there must be "forcible evidence of removal." That is to say, a broken Perko lock, a jimmied hatch, cut canvas (if you have full enclosure) - something visible that shows the thief had to "break in" to get your gear. Let's go back to the boat-left-in-the-parking-lot-for-five-minutes scenario - if your rods were simply in their rocket launchers, and not locked in your rod locker up front, you will likely NOT have coverage for this theft (here there is no evidence of forcible removal). Sucks, but the carrier's theory here is you must have some skin in the game: they require that you lock your stuff up. I have seen this happen more times than I like to report. The client is not happy, but the rationale for the exclusion is logical and fair. READ YOUR POLICY carefully for the personal effects section coverages/exclusions, as well as the definition your carrier uses for "personal effects." Outriggers (like the TACO style, which can be "removable" but no one ever takes those home after a day of fishing), for example, are considered "part of the vessel" and therefore subject to the main "hull deductible" whereas removable downriggers should be considered "personal effects" and subject to that lower deductible.
One side note - if you also have homeowner's coverage (some renters policies also), that policy likely has coverage for your "personal effects" as well, albeit at a much higher deductible than your boat policy. So if your boat policy doesn't cover it, or your claim is denied for lack of forcible removal, I recommend you contact your homeowner agent.
I recommend you keep your receipts from the purchase of all gear - just tuck them in a file somewhere for future use. I hope you never have to pull that file out, but if you DO have a theft loss, evidence of what you paid for your gear, and exactly what it was, will be immensely helpful to you when you file your claim. Nothing I dislike more than a thief, but they are out there, so we must all take reasonable steps to protect ourselves and our gear from them. Pro-active steps can include alarms (no different than a standard "burglar alarm" with audible siren), motion lights, and surveillance cameras. A sign on the piling noting "This Vessel is Under Video Surveillance" might also cause the thief to simply "move along." Your carrier also appreciates pro-activity when it comes to protection of your fishing gear.
As always, if you have any questions about theft of gear, never hesitate to call on me to discuss - client or not, I am here to serve as a resource for ALL of our forum family.
Catch 'em up (then lock it up)!
Adam B. Meyer, Esq.
Director of Marine Insurance
Wells Marine Insurance
P 910-726-3923 / F 910-795-2512
Boat, yacht, charter, guide and marine artisan insurance experts. You won’t find a better crew to protect your water lifestyle. Based in Wrightsville Beach, NC and insuring salty dogs across the entire US. 910.208.9120 www.wellsmarineins.com