After an accident, many things go through your mind. Once the accident site has been secured, the vessel is back in port and the Coast Guard has been notified, what do you do next? Immediately getting in touch with your insurance agent is always a good first step.

The sooner your agent is made aware of your claim, the sooner some very important wheels get set in motion. But don’t think that you can’t do anything before you hear from an adjustor. Under the “sue and labor clause” in your hull policy, you are actually expected to take actions to prevent further damage or loss to your vessel or cargo. These expenses are covered under sue and labor.

Before actual repairs are made, be sure to have a surveyor inspect the damage. The insurance company’s adjustor typically assigns a surveyor to act on their behalf. However, if you have an adjustor who is familiar with the boat, you can inquire about using that person. Document the damage with photos and hold onto any damaged or broken machinery parts which can help determine what went wrong.

You want to have your vessel repaired as soon as possible so it can go back to work. Don’t let the insurance company impede your repairs. If you have a repair facility you use and like, see if they can get started on the work. Keep track of the receipts for materials and time that your crew spends on any repairs as well. The adjustor, or assigned surveyor, should work with you and the shipyard during the repair to get the project done as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you experience any delays, you should call your insurance agent immediately for assistance to keep things moving forward.

After the repairs have been completed and you are back in operation, what will happen with your policy at the time of renewal? Will the insurance company choose not to renew? Will your premium go up? It all depends on your claims history. If you have frequent claims, then yes, you may not get renewed. Most likely your rates will go up. Remember, just like you, the insurance company is in this to make a profit.

A collection of stories from guest authors.