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Insurance for freelance Captains?

Discussion in 'Yacht Captains' started by Islandtime, Sep 24, 2008.

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  1. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I agree that the insurance out there has a lot of loopholes that they can get out of. I think the best way might be to incorporate yourself as a business and derive a paycheck as an employee of the business. I have friends that make every owner sign a hold harmless agreement before they step foot on the boat, this was drawn up by a friends attorney. I think they would go after the yacht owner first, they have much larger pockets then we do. But who knows anymore. Nothing is easy when it comes to liability anymore. They even fine you in the Florida Keys for messing up the reef after you've run aground. Like if someone runs aground, that's not enough financial hardship to start with. It's not like anyone does that on purpose. Luckily I haven't as of yet.
  2. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    In my prior life I spent many years in the collection business. The bad news is that the worst lawyer can walk straight through the shield of a small corporation. All it does is add another layer of taxes. As an old dude I wish I could advise of some way to protect us, but ****ed if I've ever been able to find one other than not making a mistake. Over the years I assumed I could one day take a hit for a deductable of up to $10,000 on the owners policy and considered that an acceptable risk. It's only in recent years I've found that some of these boats are carrying 10% deductables. That's just scary.
  3. got_twisties

    got_twisties New Member

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    Any updates in the last 10 years on this subject? My issue is coming from making myself available for bareboat charterers to hire me for trips of a week or less, generally 2-6 hours. I have seen owner policies that list a captain hired by a charterer as being a non or uninsured. The couple companies I have found that seem to offer reasonable coverage for delivery captains wont touch the charter aspect. MOPS only addresses defending your license and any litigation that stems from negligence through a civil suit.

    I have a personal boat, 4 cars and a house through State Farm, and my agent has nothing, including an "umbrella" associated with my homeowners policy.

    I a have a call into the company that supplies my liability coverage for my small business, but does not seem promising.

    Also not getting any, or getting the same references to insurance companies that can help get me covered.

    Thanks,
    Captain Brian
  4. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

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    I have asked this question in the past - don't you professional captains have an association?

    That Association would be dues supported but include an attorney, CPA and banker (among others) that could help you with your questions. Proper insurance is not an easy question, and you do not want the answer at the time of a claim
  5. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Mostly the owners insurance company list you as another authorized operator for delivery work.
    Insure your delivery contract includes the owners insurance is intact and a letter confirming / authorizing you to make the delivery.

    Charter captains with paying passengers onboard, somebody else's boat; I would not get on board with out a letter confirming / authorizing you to operate the ship and include ALL scopes of operation and restrictions. From the owner and insurance company.
    Be prepared to offer copies of your drivers license and captains license with resume.

    Charter captains with paying passengers onboard your boat; Don't do it. Mate for someone else. You will make more money and not get sued as bad.
  6. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    The liability on day charters is huge and even worst when it comes to bareboat which pretty often are just a paper trick. When the s--t hits the fan, or when a body hits the prop as this week end in miami, every detail will be srutinized incl. whether the charterer had a choice of crew, paid the expenses and fuel and signed separate contracts.
  7. got_twisties

    got_twisties New Member

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    To the best of my research no. That was my personal insurance guys first suggestion: "go to the company that tested you for your Captains license, I am sure there is an association." I also have a close friend that has a sailing school. He has trained/accumulated sea time for dozens of Captains, but he is unaware of one as well.

    Thanks Capt Ralph, I am not taking any chances. Even the most fastidious of Captains that I know, surprisingly, have been operating without insurance. I primarily run sailboats, so the risk level certainly goes down at 5 knots of top speed, but there is still a lot of exposure to risk. I am uncomfortable relying on an owners policy. I have worked about 120 2-6 hour charters here in Chicago over the last 5 years, 60 last year, but very few as the Captain. With that experience, I am confident I can run a charter and come out the other end with a safe passage, but you never know ...
  8. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

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    That's a shame!
    Liability insurance not only supplies the benefit of paying a claim if the claim is successful, but provides for the cost of defense, which can be staggering. In this day and age everyone on that boat will be joined in any suit filed, whether there is real liability or not.
  9. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Small company insurance with named perils. The boat is an asset of the company and service.
    Searching here may cover you if it's not a hobby.

    Home owners, regular boat polices will not cover your ASSets.
    Banks also will have problems using your personal loan boat for commercial work.

    Where is the Viking (Oden Charters)? He has already gone here.. Hopefully he can pop in with his experience?
  10. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I'd suggest a broker who deals with errors and omissions and also with surplus lines coverage. Perhaps time to look at your total insurance picture. Look at those who offer products from companies like Lloyd's as the comments you may have heard saying they will insure anything aren't far from the truth, just that they actually insure nothing are just a fancy marketplace. You are not going to get what you need from State Farm or Progressive or whomever. I could picture it in the form of an umbrella where as long as you have a copy of the owner's policy they'll cover you. I've never explored what you're trying to get but you're going to have to talk to one or more brokers doing more than typical personal coverage.

    Cost may well become your next issue, but if you're relooking at all your insurance, a comprehensive insurance program may make it reasonable as opposed to trying to buy the single policy. No one is going to want to offer just what you want at a modest price.
  11. John Darr

    John Darr New Member

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    I will do some research and see what I can find. I am an independent insurance agent of 25 years so I have many options to search. As I understand it, captains are looking for coverage while bareboating. Let me know if I am missing something.
  12. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Also Captains are looking for insurance that covers them running a myriad of various yachts.
  13. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

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    I believe they would be looking for liability insurance for all circumstances since a captain goes from assignment to assignment?
  14. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    In the background, monitoring :)

    I don’t do much free-lance Captain stuff, if any.
    Got my charter outfit (www.odincharters.com) with a $1 mill liability policy.
    Had a $2 mill umbrella for cars and properties, as well as private boat, but it didn’t cover any commercial work. Dropped it when GEICO jacked up the prices recently.
    As for Association, I am a member of NACO, National Association of Charter Boat Operator’s. They have various deals and leads on goodies, but never thought of searching for policy to protect my ticket and liability for freelance work.
    Good timing, got a call recently asking I wanted to be a relief Captain on a private Chevy Lee Alpha 76.
    May have to look into additional insurance.
  15. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    If you are a relief captain on a private Cheoy Lee, the boats insurance should cover you under the crew coverage.
  16. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    When does a captain need his own insurance?

    Between my company's and the customers boat coverage, I always felt protected.
  17. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    A freelance Captain that runs multiple boats all of the time.
  18. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    My recommendation if one doesn't find coverage otherwise is to incorporate one's business, cover the business under a good E&O (Errors and Omissions) policy and work as an employee of the corporation. It doesn't preclude personal liability but provides a level of insurance to pay.
  19. Beau

    Beau Senior Member

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    You fellows need a good Association and insurance rep.
    I'm not offering advice. I'm conversing as a member. But, I believe E/O coverage is provided for precise services/positions; General Liability is a broader coverage. Whether you are an additional insured or "think" you are covered under the owner's policy because you believe you are an employee, you could very easily be exposed to individual liability and a defense cost that will suck you dry. Also, talk with your professional about "tail" insurance. After your commission is completed, you may still have possible liability chasing you. Do you have the coverage for that? Don't assume!! Speak with a knowledgeable insurance broker/or your attorney. You may balk at the cost, and hopefully it never happens, but when that process server appears at your door, you can either faint or thank him as you slam the door. Always insure the risk. Just saying....
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2018
  20. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I agree with you on the need and some form of an association would make it easier to obtain. I would never be comfortable with owners covering me unless I had written contracts with them plus copies of their insurance.