BHR excited to announce our new Strategic Partner, NICB

With hundreds of thousands of potential buyers attending boat shows in the upcoming months, Boat History Report’s (BHR) strategic partnership with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) could not have come at a better time.  This new partnership will help to further prevent boat buyers from unknowingly purchasing stolen and salvaged boats being sold without proper disclosure.  The addition of NICB’s boat data further solidifies BHR as the leading provider of watercraft history reports. By partnering with leading marine organizations, including YachtWorld.com, BoatTrader.com, and NadaGuides, BHR continues to provide the tools necessary for consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing used boats.

Interesting Facts and Statistics:

  • 75,000 recreational boats were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina -Insurance Journal (January 2, 2006).
  • Over 65,000 recreational boats were damaged or lost as a result of Hurricane Sandy. -estimate by Boat Owner’s Association of The United States.
  • As of April, 2014- 60% of stolen watercraft from 2013 had not been recovered.  Sources: NICB, US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI), National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
  • Fort Lauderdale Boat Show annually attracts an audience of more than 100,000. (Oct 30 – Nov 3rd, 2014).

You can read the full news release here: https://www.nicb.org/newsroom/news-releases/nicb-welcomes-boat-history-report-as-strategic-partner

 

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Make the Most of the Show!

Boat Shows are increasing in size exponentially- in 2013, Palm Beach increase its land display area 22% and its boat display in water by 33%!  If you don’t know how to walk a show, you won’t survive the crowds and excitement a 200’ Mega Yacht can generate.  Here are some tips in making the most of your day without pushing anyone over the edge…

  1. First and foremost, find out the shows hours and locations.  Going to a show right when it opens is typically the least crowded time.  As the day progresses and more people begin stirring, you will see a lot more congestion and have a much harder time getting face time with any brokers/dealers or reps.  Also, by going early, you avoid long entrance lines and have a better shot at choice parking, as it is usually limited to begin with.
  2. Find out who the guest speakers are and what the most advertised events are.  At the Miami International Boat Show in 2013, the guest speaker and wildly advertised big event was Bear Grylls.  However, he spoke at 10 am, right when the show opened on the very first day.  You had to be in line, waiting to get in so that you could even have a chance to see him.  Often times the larger shows will host other boating and marine celebrities.  For example, Guy Harvey or Carey Chen may be doing autographs and pictures at specified times.  You may have marine legends and stars who speak on behalf of their shows or charities.  Also, usually the shows manager will point out a few of the must see items, and progress/history of the show itself.
  3. BRING CASH!  Almost every boat show I have gone to has required you to pay for everything in cash.  You can use the ATM’s they install but you’ll pay at least $5 in fees per transaction.  If you don’t have cash, you won’t get in, nor will you eat or drink.  You can usually save a few dollars by buying your ticket online before the show also so make sure to check into that.
  4. Bring food and drinks with you.  Most shows allow you to bring in outside bags.  Food at the shows is expensive.  You will easily spend $4 for a water and $10 or more for a measly portion of cafeteria quality food (I should note that not ALL show food is bad.  Just all show food I’ve had!).  Bring in some sandwiches or chips and a couple of drinks.  This way you can stay hydrated and save a few bucks.   You’re going to need every penny for that new boat anyway!
  5. Try to go to the show during weekdays.  Most shows are at least 3 days so go on Friday.  The weekends are when EVERYONE goes.  That means docks are crowded, you can’t get on boats, lines are long, and there are typically people that are just looking around and aren’t seriously considering buying a boat.  If you want to be able to talk to vendors or brokers, you need to be there as early in the show as possible.  Usually the first day in a show is considered the industry day.  It can be more expensive depending on which show you go to, and is typically less crowded.  It’s a good day to talk to people if it’s information you seek.  Plus, if you are going to the show to purchase a boat, by getting their early you have a better chance your dream boat doesn’t sell before you buy it!
  6. If you are seriously buying a boat, know which brokers you want to talk to.  Who is local?  Who has what inventory?  What kind of boat are you getting?  When do you want it by?  Where do you need it shipped to?  If it’s used, make sure to know its history.  Was it used in fresh or salt water? Has it ever been in an accident?  Did it get swamped in Hurricane Sandy?  Is there an environmental lien on it?  Run a history report (a good one is www.boathistoryreport.com) on their inventory beforehand or bring a smart phone/iPad with you to run it there (might be best to buy an account with the history site first so you don’t have to hassle with it while trying to hold a brokers attention).  It would be a terrible shame to waste your day looking at a boat only to find out at the end of the day that it’s been salvaged.
  7. Once you get down to the marinas and boats in the water, it is a maze of floating docks and walkways.  You could easily get lost and look at the same row of boats over and over as the crowds start growing, you’re eyes start blurring at the wealth and your head grows dreary from the rocking docks.  By knowing what is there and where yachts of interest are located, you have a better chance of actually finding them.  Everyone is going to go see the biggest yachts so you know those walk ways are going to be crowded.  Hit them right away.  This will be your best chance of getting that awesome photo or asking all the usual questions- How much to charter it?  What is it selling for?  Who is the owner?  Does it come with a diamond ring?!
  8. Many shows run contests that aren’t overly advertised.  The Miami show for example gave away all sorts of gift cards, hotel stays, food certificates and boating excursions.  They were all listed online under a small section called “Contests.”  The odds of you winning at least something are high because no one knows about them!
  9. Lastly, HAVE FUN!  Go in with a positive attitude.  Look around. Talk to people.  Watch people.  Enjoy the weather and the water.  Be appreciative of the fact that you even live in or close to a city that offers a boat show.  ENJOY IT!!
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Twas the Night Before Christmas

TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS and all through the boat,
The bilge pumps were hustling to keep us afloat, 
The children were nestled all snug in their berths,
(We sleep here most nights to get our money’s worth)

As Ma read Jackie Collins and I guzzled beer, 
She said “You’ve had enough, now come to bed dear.”
Then out on the dock there arose an uproar
As I reached in the Igloo to get just one more.

So up went my head, out of the hatch. 
(Though I should have thought first to undo the latch.)
I saw stars for a moment, and as quick as a blink
My hunny yelled, “See, you’ve had too much to drink!”

The moon on the water lit the marina up bright 
(Which was good, since the kids had lost my flashlight.)
Then what with my wondering eyes should I see,
But a fat, fuzzy old guy in a Bayliner Capri.

Instead of an outboard hung on the rear,
Tied to the bow were eight tiny reindeer.
More rapid than Reggie, these coursers they flew,
And on each of their hoofs was a Topsider shoe.

With crashing and bashing and banging and knocking, 
I knew in an instant they must be docking,
“No Dasher and Dancer! Damn you Prancer and Vixen.
Stop, Comet and Cupid! The bumpers, Donner and Blitzen!
Look out for that boat! Watch that seawall!
Now tie up with ropes and fend off all!”

He was dressed in a red cap ringed with fur trim 
Along with a Speedo that covered just a fraction of him.
I was shocked and astonished. What could I say?
I also go boating dressed exactly that way.

He then grabbed a bag, a bulging huge sack,
And hoisted it up onto his back,
He also had sponges and a mop in his grip,
As he waddled his way o’er to my slip.

He said “My name’s Nick, and my friend, I can tell
That your gel coat needs buffing and your teak looks like hell.
Your vinyl needs cleaning, your lockers arranging, 
Your holding tank pumping, and your oil a-changing,
You’ve put these jobs off for too long and you know it.
So here’s all that you need. This time don’t blow it.”

Then as quick as he came, he was back on his boat,
His reindeer revving and eager to tote.
“Merry Christmas!” he called as they cruised through the night.
“And regarding the beer Joe, your wife- she is right.”

THE END

Originally published in Bluewater Sailing

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The Boat Insurance Mystery, Unraveled!

The Boat Insurance Mystery- Unraveled!

For some, boating’s a pastime; for others, a way of life.  No matter why you boat, everyone knows one thing- it’s EXPENSIVE!  Being prepared and educated prior to a loss can help save a lot of aggravation as well as your investment.  Many people found this out the hard way after Hurricane Sandy devastated their personal belongings, and their insurance company pulled out a magnifying glass to discuss their policies details and fine print.  Needless to say, thousands of boats were left stranded because they were not properly insured and the owners could not afford to repair of even salvage them.

Boat insurance: do you HAVE to have it?  It depends on the state.  Should you have it? Do you want your boat to float?  I think we can agree the answer to both of these questions is YES!  But why, what kind, and how much?  We are here to help decipher the nuts and bolts of your insurance contract and help you choose the best insurance to suit your specific needs.

Let’s start with the basic, yet often confusing terms in a policy:

  • Boat- For most insurance companies, a boat is classified as 26’ and under
  • Yacht- For most insurance companies, a vessel 27’ and larger
  • Boat Liability Insurance- The maximum amount of money your policy could pay to help cover the expenses of injured third parties outside of immediate family, as well as property damage other than your own.  Policy limits are generally stated in an XX/XX/XX format.  For example, 20/40/20 means $20,000 is the max payment for any one injured person the policy holder is liable for; $40,000 is the max payment for all people injured in any one occurrence; and $20,000 is the max payment for property damaged as a result of an accident or event.
  • Actual Cash Value- The cost to replace damaged property, less the deductible, minus depreciation and wear and tear.  For example, if your 2001 Bayliner is damaged beyond repair and had a value of $5000 before the accident, you would most likely receive $5000 (less deductible), and not the $15,000 it would cost to replace the boat.
  • Agreed Value- A predetermined vessel value.  Should your boat be damaged beyond repair, you would receive the entire agreed value of the boat (less deductible), despite the boat’s age or wear and tear.
  • Replacement Cost- The cost to replace damaged parts (less deductible).  In the case of a total loss, a replacement cost provision would replace your boat with a new boat.  Generally this option is typically limited to the first year of ownership and then would switch to Agreed Value or Actual Cost Value.
  • All Risk Policy- This is the “cause of loss” provision which most policies are written.  This means all damaged to the boat is included (after the deductible is applied), unless specifically mentioned in the exclusions.
  • Navigational Limits- These are specific limits as to where you can use your boat.  Be sure to discuss your this information with your agent or underwriter as some policies have detailed navigational boundaries and may only provide coverage in your home state or within limited coastal waters.
  • Lay-Up Discount- For those who live in winter climates where your boat will not be used for a portion of the year, some policies offer discounts if your boat is winterized and stored.
  • Deductible- Portion of a loss the policy holder is responsible for prior to payment from the insurance company (where applicable).  This could be a flat amount or in the form of a percentage of the policy.

Now for the really confusing part- What do I actually need and where should I start?

To begin, insurance companies generally define boat insurance as Marine Insurance or Hull Insurance.  As one insurance company explains, it is the “accidental, direct physical loss or damage to the boat and equipment as well as salvage charges.”  Equipment could include sails, machinery, electronics, furniture, dinghies, outboard motors, and other equipment normally considered necessary for the use of a vessel.

In general, most boat insurance policies are “All Risk” policies which means all damage to the boat is included except for specifically excluded perils named within the policy.  These exclusions may include general wear and tear, weathering, mold, blistering, design defects, and animal and marine life damage.  It may or may not include machinery damage exclusions, depending on the specific policy.  There are a few variables that will also affect your policy, such as horsepower and type of engine, intended use, planned storage, and expected operators.

If you are new to owning a boat, there are a few questions you’ll want to ask your insurance agent or underwriter:

  1. Is this an agreed value or ACV policy (and make sure you understand the difference)?
  2. What are the deductibles and how will they apply at the time of a loss?
  3. What are the navigational boundaries of the policy?
  4. What if someone else drives my boat and has an accident?
  5. What is covered while trailering the boat?
  6. Are there any medical payments?
  7. Is boat insurance mandatory in my state; if not, would it be wise to purchase coverage for uninsured/underinsured boaters?

You will also want to find out the company’s coverage for the following:

  • Personal effects and unattached equipment coverage for items such as fishing or diving gear
  • Fuel/environmental damage and salvage/wreckage removal
  • On-water assistance
  • Uninsured/underinsured coverage for bodily injury
  • Specialized coverage for highly valued items on the boat
  • Consequential damage (for wear and tear, rather than an accident)

There are a few things you can do to help keep the cost of insurance down.  Many insurance companies offer discounts for boating safety classes.  These classes are offered in most areas by The US Coast Guard Auxiliary and The National Association of State Boating Law Administers, and are usually free.  You may also qualify for a discount by having your boat inspected by the USCG Auxiliary, which is also a free service.  Some insurance companies also offer discounts if your boat is only used in freshwater, or you bundle your boat, auto, and home insurance with the same company.

Ask your boating friends, boat dealers, and local marine financiers who they recommend and if they have had any personal experience dealing with claims.  A personal reference is a great way to ensure you will consider aspects that effect your marine insurance policy for your specific needs.  Finally, always consult with an insurance professional who is familiar with marine risks for that area to make sure the exposure and your asset is properly insured.

And Boat ON Friends…

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Best Places to Own a Boat!

With the recreational boating industry topping $121 BILLION in 2012, its obvious that Americans refuse to let go of one of our favorite escapes.  Here is a list of the top 10 states, ranked by economic value, along with a “no-miss” opportunity in each!

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Boat Green!

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Take Green to the Water!

Going Green isn’t just something that California residents do these days.  It’s a universal way of life and can be applied to everything we do.  However, rarely do we think about it on the water as we are loading our beer and rods onto the boat during a beautiful summer day.   Here are a few tips to help keep you green this summer so that our waterways and marine life will be around for generations to come.

 Oil and Fuel Pollution

Oil and fuel pollution is probably the most commonly contributed pollution we as boaters are guilty of.  Most of the time, we aren’t even aware we are doing it.  In fact, every year Americans alone spill, throw away or dump out more than 30 times the amount of oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez Disaster in Prince William Sound.  There are a few things you can do to ensure you are not part of the problem:

  1. When re-fueling your boat, use an oil absorbing pad to clean up any drips or spills.    A great option is the Chadd Padd- a reusable pad that minimizes fuel pollution into our waterways.  At only $9.95 for a 6pack, there is no reason not to have them handy.  They can also be used as a drip mat in the bilge before pumpout or when working with hydraulic fluids.
  2. If you change your own oil, make sure to use a closed system such as a portable oil-change pump and again, have your oil absorbent pad handy.  Make sure to recycle your oil and filters or dispose of it properly.
  3. Do not overfill your tank.  Its recommended to only fill to 90% so that there is room for expansion of the fuel as it warms and to minimize the risk of overflow.
  4. Use oil absorbent pads in your bilge and under your engine and be sure to check them often.  When full, be sure to dispose of them in the hazardous waste containers.

Cleaning

Every boat owner knows the importance of cleaning and maintaining your boat to get the most out of it.  It’s important to take that same care when thinking of our waterways, in order to get the most of them as well.

  1. If you can help it, minimize the cleaning you do while on the water.  If you stow your boat in the water this is obviously more difficult, but if you dry dock your boat- make sure to wait until you pull it to start cleaning it to avoid harmful chemicals and byproducts flushing back into the water.
  2. Only use biodegradable cleaning products and those specifically designed for the environment and boating.  Although dish soap works well in your home, it is toxic to marine life and attaches to fuel which causes it to sink to the waters floor.   Companies are now using more organic based products such as baking soda, vinegar and citrus which work better than traditional chemicals and do not cause harm is washed into the water.   If the bottle suggests wearing gloves, it’s probably a safe bet you don’t want to swim in it later.
  3. By maintaining your boats hull and minimizing the growth on the bottom, you increase fuel efficiency as well as decreasing the work your engine is expected to perform, thus extending the life of the motor.

 Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

We’ve been hearing this for years- it’s time to bring it to the high seas!

  1. Reduce fuel consumption by keeping your hull clean, driving at slower speeds, properly using trim tabs, minimizing idle time, plotting your course ahead of time, and ensuring your boat is properly fitted with the correct equipment for load size.
  2. Reuse products as much as possible.  Keep rinse buckets on board to avoid wasting fresh water, invest in reusable towels for cleaning up messes, use refillable water bottles and jugs, reuse filters, and recycled oil.
  3. Recycle!  So many of our everyday boating items can be recycled yet we rarely take care to do so.   Monofilament fishing line not only gets tangled in your prop, but kills marine life.  Plastic bags are eaten by hungry Sea Turtles when they are mistaken for jellyfish.  And we have all seen the picture of the turtle who got caught in a 6pack plastic ring holder.  Clip each section, tie plastic bags in a knot and bring everything to recycling units.  Marinas has started to take action to help protect our environment so look for recycling bins when you stop!
  4. Being a “Plus Oner” means coming back with everything you took out PLUS something someone else left behind.   Make sure you tie down anything loose that could blow away or fall overboard.  Stow your trash.  Don’t throw anything into the water.  Cigarette butts are the most prevalent marine litter found during coastal cleanups.

Ultimately there are a million different things we can do to become greener boaters.  Although ideally we would consider the environment with every action of every day, if we can just start with a few things until they become native, and add as the season goes on, we’ll have pristine waters and flourishing marine life for years to come.  For more information on how to be green, check out the following site: http://www.oceanconservancy.org

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What Sandy Means to Boaters

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Sandy’s Aftermath

We all know about superstorm Sandy.  We’ve seen the pictures.  We’ve heard the stories.  A lot of us have probably felt the effect and are STILL feeling the effects of the devastation.  It will take years and billions of dollars to restore all that was lost in her aftermath, and even then, some things will never be the same.  As a boater though, what does that mean for us?

Well there is always the obvious hundreds of thousands of boats that were damaged and destroyed by high winds, flooding, rain, looting, and lack of adequate preparation.  If your boat was tied down really well, it may be been flooded.  If it wasn’t tied down well, then it probably ended up on top of another boat.  If it was dry-docked, the building probably crashed down on it.  If it survived the storm, it was probably a victim of theft.  There’s no shortage to the stories we’ve heard about the loss people have experienced.

Then there is the insurance headache and surge of boat sales.  When you were finally able to get to or find your boat, you had to deal with the insurance companies and claims.  Take photos.  Document what was on the boat.  Provide evidence of what is missing off the boat.  Work with already overwhelmed and exhausted agents who are trying to get homes for people before replacing your “toy.”  If you were lucky enough to have everything handy and get it in early, you may be holding on to a nice chunk of change and contemplating a new boat purchase.  Which brings us to our next set of issues.

A huge increase in the resale of salvaged boats!  Many people are fixing up the boats and trying to resell without documenting the boats damage.  A little bit of fiberglass and some good cleaning agents and the boat is looking better than new.  However, underneath everything, the stress cracks grow bigger, the mold continues to build and the integrity of the boat continues to slip away.  How do you know if the boat is worth what it’s being sold for?  How do you know it’s safe?  How do you know it hasn’t been flooded?

And if you get past all of those hurdles, what will you do differently with your boat this time?  Will you store it in the water?  Will you dry dock it again?  If you are going to dry dock it, where?  Many of the marinas and storage areas have been destroyed and they have made the decision NOT to rebuild.  If they are rebuilding, it’ll be a while before they are ready for more boats.

And lastly, where did all of the debris go from the storm?  Oh that’s right- into our waterways.  Is it even safe to boat in the area right now?  Have they been able to clean up the oceans/lakes floors?  What submerged item will you hit?  What contamination is in the water that could cause harm to your family if you are swimming or fishing?

Typically following a storm like this, boat sales increase significantly as people whose boats survived the storm try to sell and people who have insurance checks try to upgrade.   The remainder of this year might be an extraordinary time to buy a new boat because there will be a surplus of them on the market.  And just because a boat has been swamped or considered a salvage does not mean the boat should be not be considered.  These days repairs can make a boat better than new!  Now is definitely the time to buy a used boat.  You’ll get a much larger boat, or better manufacturer than if you tried to buy a new boat.  Just make sure you are taking every precaution to ensure that the boat you are looking at is safe for your family and friends.  Do the research.  Ask questions about the history.  Run a Boat History Report on it.  Get a NAMS certified surveyor to inspect it and inform them that the boat may have been a storm victim.  As long as you’re smart about your purchase, you could end up with the deal of the year on the gem of the sea!

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