Boat-on-the-lakeFrom time to time, I ask other folks who work in the “injury” world — doctors, lawyers, physical therapists, insurance agents, etc. — to guest post on the NY Injury Law Blog.

Below is a guest post from Stephen Nagle, a local Allstate agent who has been selling insurance for 20+ years in the Elmira, Corning and Horseheads area.

While I joke that anyone from the insurance industry is my sworn enemy from the “Dark Side,” because I spend 95% of my day fighting to make sure insurance companies fairly settle my client’s claims, the bottom line is that insurance agents play a very important role in ensuring that people have the proper insurance coverage to protect them in the event of damage to a person or property.

Stephen does a great job explaining why it is so important to make sure your boat is properly insured:

The first thing that people think about when they look for insurance is how to cover the “value” of something they own: the home, car, boat, etc. If there is a loan or promissory note out on the value of the object they need to have coverage to indemnify the lender in the case of a loss.

The second thing people think about is their liability exposure related to use or ownership of the home, car, boat, etc. If what they own has little value or no loan, people do not think about their exposure to a lawsuit that could come from use or ownership of the “thing.” Studies show that people view it as an inconvenience to have liability coverage until they understand what they are protecting. If you have a vehicle of any sort, you have a liability exposure that you need to protect, particularly if you have a boat.

As an insurance agent for more than 20 years I ask my customers to think just a little differently. Sure, they need coverage for the value of a loan, but the value of the loan is usually less than the value of their future earnings. The “thing” that is lost is replaceable for an attainable price. The bank gets paid and the insurance company tries to restore the client to being whole.

However, if they are found legally responsible for damage to a third party there is a need to protect earning value far greater than the value of their things. In New York state, people need liability coverage to register a car whether or not they need coverage on the car itself. They give little thought to the value of the liability and other underlying coverage that could pay bills far and away more expensive than replacing the car.

Years ago, an elderly fisherman came into my office with his wife. He was eager for me to explain to his wife why he didn’t need coverage on his old fishing boat and his wife was just as eager for me to explain to him why he did. He didn’t want coverage on the boat, it was “only” worth about $5,000 and he had heard that his boat liability was covered by his homeowners policy. He recognized the need because he often had friends on board. He could hit another boat or damage a dock. Sometimes he took grandkids and their friends waterskiing or tubing – what if they were injured while having fun? He could be held responsible for a fuel spill if he dumped oil or gas overboard while fueling or transferring fuel.

He was partially correct. Homeowners policies extend liability to cover small boats subject to policy provisions which vary from company to company. It is typical to see coverage for boats under 50 HP with inboard/ inboard-outboards motors or under 50 HP for outboards and to sailboats under 26 feet. We reviewed his policy and he realized that his older cuddy cabin 21 footer with a 185 HP I/O was not covered.

A $500,000 liability policy covering anything for which he could be held legally liable with optional coverage for $5,000 med pay turned out to be less than $100 for a year. Full coverage for damage to the boat for ACV up to $5,000 was an additional $86. Needless to say, he took the full package. We wrote a personal umbrella policy for him as well, but that is another story.

– By Steven Nagle, Allstate Insurance in Horseheads. (607) 739-7991

Thanks for reading,
James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529