It is always better to let your agent know of any changes to your operation or vessel, because after a claim occurs it is too late for that conversation. Your agent should always have time to speak with you and should welcome the opportunity.
Operational changes on board can vary but below are a few examples that may indicate it is time to have a conversation with your insurance agent.
• Changes in operation. Is your passenger vessel now transporting cargo as well? There is a warranty stating what type of operations your vessel is insured for. If you are engaged in something different than what is written in your policy and you have a claim, it may not be covered. If you have new equipment or gear on board, this could increase the value of your hull coverage.
• Changes in navigation. When we say navigation, we are not only talking about territorial boundaries but also the time of year. Have you expanded your footprint and are you now working in new waters? Are you operating longer and with a shorter layup? Your policy will state your navigational limits as well as any layup period. If you have a claim outside of either of these two limits, there will be no coverage.
• Survey recommendations. Every five years or so, your insurance company will ask for a new survey. If recommendations are attached to the new survey, you will be asked to sign off that they have been complied with. Should you have a claim and the adjustor determines that it was caused or associated with a survey recommendation which was not complied with, the claim will be denied.
• Extra crew. Your policy has coverage for a stated number of crew. If you take on more crew for a longer trip or just to have more hands on board, your policy needs to be modified to reflect this.
Insurance is one of the larger expenses associated with vessels and their operation. You need to do all you can before a claim occurs to ensure that you get paid in the event of an accident. Be sure to keep your agent up to date with any changes to your operation.