Walleye First Tournament Series Boat Insurance 101
Apr 11th, 2012 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Apr 11th, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Anglers pay more attention to their electronics than they do their boat insurance; more attention to lure color than boat insurance; more attention to the next cast than boat insurance.
Many boaters may not be properly insured. This includes tournament anglers, guides, those who give boat rides/demos and anyone driving boats owned by others. Boaters need insurance policies designed especially for them.
Even though boat insurance has been a topic of discussion at National Professional Anglers Association meetings, a marine insurance specialist shared more insights recently. Bob Luellen, a 20-year veteran in this business, said, “It’s best to own a stand-alone policy created specifically for what an individual needs, not a band-aid added to another policy.”
He first ran into pro walleye anglers in 2008 when he fished a Professional Walleye Trail event. He traveled with Mark Martin, and was a co-angler. Bob said, “Every pro I talked with did NOT understand the type of insurance he needed.” He was curious, because his regular job was insuring big boats for the likes of Bruce Willis, John Travolta and others. Being licensed in 48 states and representing 20 national companies, he was writing boating policies that addressed specific needs.
He created an education process so touring pros could understand insurance. He also informed them about his operation compared to companies that specialize in home-owners. “The boats on tour and those that guides use daily are high-value fishing rigs, and if insured like a truck with an actual cash value policy and a total-loss accident occurred, the owner would only receive the depreciated value of what the insurance company says its worth.”
Bob knows from experience that model doesn’t work. With boats being financed for 10 to 12 years, owners should consider the “stated-value” policy. Boats being financed can quickly become like a home with a lower value than the mortgage. “Owners could be out of the fishing business if their payout under a traditional actual cash value wouldn’t allow them to pay off the bank note,” he said.
“What the agreed value policy means is if your rig is insured for $65,000, you’ll get $65,000 if a total loss occurs,” he said. Another area deals with replacement-cost coverage on partial losses like lower units or rock/pier damage to gel coat. “Many companies have sliding scale or depreciated (reduced) replacement value with time,” he said.
He continued his insurance education. “Like fishing, attention to detail is critical to insurance,” he emphasized. For instance, with electronics, he advised boaters to list with serial numbers and take photos of units installed. If a unit would be stolen, he has the information and so does the boat owner. “Take a full inventory of gear, kicker, batteries and fishing equipment, just in case you have to prove what was in or on the boat. Keep receipts and review everything when the 2-year policy is renewed,” he said.
From his perspective and actual situations, Bob said guides have commercial exposure, and most general property and casualty companies don’t insure commercial activities. Some companies exclude Great Lakes boating. Some companies don’t cover boats while in Canada. Some companies limit the number of guide trips. Some companies don’t offer unlimited towing and/or emergency services on land or water. “This is something you don’t need until you need it,” he said. Some companies don’t cover property damage, which could be caused by a boat wake. Most companies don’t cover a person when driving another boat. “This is something every pro and guide must have – it’s called non-owned watercraft liability,” he said.
Liability insurance is the least expensive of any policy and tournament anglers and guides need enough coverage for any eventuality. “This is how it works,” Bob said, “Liability coverage allows the insurance company to settle claims out of court without any out-of-pocket personal assets/payments from the client.”
The difference between $300,000 and $500,000 liability insurance is only about $30 to $40 a year, and he felt half a million dollars would handle 90 percent of the cases. “Going from $100,000 to $300,000 only adds about $15 per year,” he said. Asked to describe the need for liability insurance for weekend warriors to tournament anglers, Bob said, “It’s extremely critical.”
Bob can be reached at the worldwidemarineins.com website. He recommended after he prices a policy that potential clients compare rates and coverage, even though he said 90-percent of the time he has the best price for the specialized insurance required. He deals with clients directly for claims, repairs, adjusters, etc., to get them back on the water. “I live, eat and breathe fishing; so do my customers. I know what they need for their huge investment,” he said.