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. When it comes to the use of your vessel, there is no such thing as sharing too much information with your insurance agent.
One area where this is especially true is warranties attached to your hull policy. Warranties state what you can and cannot do on board your vessel.
Here are a few examples:
- Changes in operation: Is your boat now going to start delivering fuel oil as well? There is a warranty stating what type of operations your vessel is insured for. If you are engaged in something different and have a claim, it may not be covered.
- Changes in navigation: When we say navigation, we are not only talking about territorial boundaries but also time of year. Have you expanded your footprint and are now operating in new waters? Are you operating longer each year 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 marine survey. If recommendations are attached to the 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 that 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, whether for a longer trip or just to have more hands on board, your policy must be modified to reflect this.
Insurance is one of the largest expenses for your vessel and operation. You want to do all you can before a claim occurs to ensure that you get paid in the event of an accident. Take the time to review what you currently have and make sure to keep your agent up-to-date with any changes.