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Insuring Wood Hulls

If it doesn't pertain to metal, wood, wire or fabric—but it is about vintage Chris-Crafts, ask your question or give your advice here.

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Insuring Wood Hulls

Post by cmaser » Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:25 pm

First time post for me. Just bought a 1950 32 ft Super De Luxe Enclosed Cruiser. My insurance company that insures our other boat (Progressive) won't insure this boat because it has a wood hull.

I am interested in who folks use for insuring their wood hulled Chris Crafts. My guess is that there is one company in particular that is interested in these boats, but maybe there are many? Recommendations?


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Post by rpccc43 » Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:45 pm

Many folks will recommend Haggerty and they may help you out. However, they would not touch my 1965 Connie. I ended up with Heritage Marine Insurance out of Mystic Ct. Either company will likely require a recent survey. Good luck.


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Chad Durren
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Post by Chad Durren » Sun Feb 08, 2009 7:01 pm

I've had great luck with Hagerty.

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Post by Thommyboy » Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:10 am

How about Ski Safe - a partner of the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club.


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Post by Flatd7 » Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:15 pm

Call either Lynn Callahan or Art Mueller at Heritage. 800-959-3047. They were very helpful with my CC. Haggerty was a bit more squirrily. Those were the only two insurers I found that would touch a 70 year old wood hull, no matter how much TLC had been given.

Good luck. Pictures?

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Bill Basler
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Post by Bill Basler » Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:53 pm

There are lots of differences in opinion being shared here. The truth is that the vessels insurability has to do with lots of things, regardless of exactly who may be able to write the policy. In the case of coastal areas especially Gulf states, things really tightened up starting a couple of years back, due to the high number of claims due to hurricanes. The underwriters who govern the insurance companies would not (in some cases) allow policies to be written for cruisers docked in coastal areas. There were workarounds such as the vessel being stored in the water XX miles inland, but generally speaking the options were not that practical.

Aside from these issues, there are companies that will write for runabouts, but not cruisers, and others who will write for cruisers, but only up to a certain length when conditions are met. Also, there are differing criteria for surveys, and documentation.

I am pretty sure that Brass Bell advertiser, Hagerty Insurance will write a policy for a 32-foot boat. When you get above the mid 30s in length it would probably be best to call. Call Carla at Hagerty. 800-762-2628 ext 8765

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John McConnell
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Cruiser Insurance

Post by John McConnell » Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:36 pm

Try BoatUS, they insure our '67, 40' connie, but they may require a recent survey and may insist that some items be reparied or updated.
John McConnell
'67, 40' Connie

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Post by Wood Commander » Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:51 pm

cmaser, did you by chance buy "Jolene" from Seattle? I heard she recently sold. In any case, welcome aboard!

In the past, I've had a very hard time getting my cruiser insured, even with a survey. And that was waaayyy before Katrina or the other earlier hurricanes. Right now I am uninsured due to circumstances and need. But at some point I will need it again.

1953 35' Commander "Adonis III"

1970 23' lancer project

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Post by drrot » Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:53 pm

I replied to a free quote request sent out by Boat US a while back. You got a freebie for responding. They sent me a note saying there was no way any 25' wood boat was worth $30K and I would not be getting the freebie. Hopefully they did more research.

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Post by Flatd7 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 1:24 pm

All good points Bill. Another thing you will find is that your boating experience will greatly effect the insurer and terms. If you have moved up in class or are new to wood hulls, you will find more limitations with insurers.

Good luck.

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Post by lnewcom2 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 4:30 pm

I have my 1962 36' Connie insured through Haggerty. The boat is located in Michigan so I don't have the Hurrican risk of the coasts. That being said, when I first called them I had to submit my survey and in writing promise I would fix all known issues listed in the survery. On top of that, because this was my first boat, I had to submit a boating resume listing all practical experience I had with boats throughout my life. Haggerty was the only company that would insure me. Good luck.

Lee Newcombe
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"Family Tree"

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Post by jfrprops » Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:54 pm

I swear I hate to wade in here but I have nothing but liability insurance on my cruiser because loss ins. is just not available short of a full body cavity strip seach. Face it guys, if you have the dough to keep up your cruiser you ought to be able to suck up the loss...because the alternative is no sure thing anyway. I always figure insurance, a necessary evil, will cover everything but what happens.
In this 21 century boaters world...where the average enpowered manager knows zip about classic boats and values, but is convinced that wood means, sink/rot/burn/abandon.....well you get the idea...they don't want US. Covered slips here on the Chesapeake are even getting hard to find for our older cruisers. The hurricane comments are RIGHT ON.
We pay a price for not cruising or sleeping on tupperware....not being able to find insurance is just one of those.
Like I tell the incredulous clorox bottle crowd:
Wooden boats NEVER depreciate....they're are worth nothing when you buy them and nothing when you sell them.....but in between we get to ride in style, and they are priceless treasures to US.
1980 Fairchild Scout 30
19?? custom Argentine Runabout 16'
1954 Whirlwind deluxe dual ckpt 16'
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Post by goertz » Wed Feb 11, 2009 2:05 am

Allow me to get on my soap box for a moment. In addition to a love for the old woodies, I also am an offshore enthusiast. I had a 1978 30' Scarab that I insured through progressive. I had about $25k into it. I had a stated value policy for $20k. Anything happens, they pay me $20k. Well I never imagined it would be stolen out of my driveway when I was out of town. I filed a claim with Progressive. They asked for a recorded statement, send in title, etc. All the normal stuff, which I complied with. Then, they got a little personal. They wanted all my home, cell, and business phone records. Additionally, they wanted all my bank statements for all my accounts, business accounts included, and a client list for anyone I might have done business with over the past 12 months. I informed them I'd give them balances, but I'm not giving an insurance company bank statements. I'm also not giving them all my personal phone records. Then they wanted to a sworn deposition, and get a recorded statement from my elderly mother who lives in our guest house. They were just looking for any excuse to get out of paying. I refused to give them the unreasonable things, and of course, they denied my claim. Moral of the story, DON'T USE PROGRESSIVE! Haggerty was going to insure my 1964 Cavalier, all they required was a survey. Cost would have been about $400 a year.

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Matt Smith
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Post by Matt Smith » Wed Feb 11, 2009 9:03 am

I would imagine that insurance scams are on the rise these days. I can not image any insurance company not doing some heavy research on what happened. I am always suspect of the low cost provider on any service. You get what you pay for I suppose. Also as much as I love hagarty, I have yet to see them tested thank god! I am curious here, has anybody had experience in filing a claim, and what was there experience. That is sometimes the true test of an insurance company. After the fact, when you need them.
1948 25' Chris Craft Sportsman
1937 16' Special Racer
1968 40' Rice Trawler
1968 11' Crab Skiff
2018 Hole in my head

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Al Benton
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Post by Al Benton » Wed Feb 11, 2009 9:32 am

Insurance scams are on the rise and companies are cautious. Thus, investigations are sometimes called for. Some of their requests were not unreasonable and may be considered necessary to avoid a possible scam. An attorney could probably work with the insurance company without exposing bank records to unwanted eyes. An attorney can be expensive but may beat getting nothing.

Matt, I haven't had the necessity to make a boat related insurance claim yet but my daughter has. American Family Insurance treated her fairly. My old woodys are insured with Ski-Safe.


Dick Dow
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Post by Dick Dow » Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:49 pm

It pays to shop, but I am of the school of thought that if I screw up and damage my boat, I'll fix it myself. If someone else's negligence causes damage to my boat, their insurance is going to be involved, and if necessary, my attorney. And I'm still probably going to fix it myself...

However, I maintain high liability limits for damage, spills,injury, etc., that may occur in the course of our boating activities, as I can't fix what happens if there is a calamity of some kind and our moorage rules require high limits anyway, which I feel are reasonable.

I go for minimal valuation, typically what I paid for a boat, or near what I may have in it in $$. The highest deductable that the insurer will let me go with, and then the high liability coverage. I also have worked with them on operational areas anticipated and layup months where applicable.

Bottom line: Communicate with your insurer, let them know what your experience and anticipated use is, and work with them to minimize your costs and their exposure. Worry more about protecting your assets from a liability standpoint, and don't even think that you will be able to recover your costs should the boat suffer a catastrophic failure.

Interpreting some of what is stated above, boats, (particularly wooden ones)are worth nothing to most of the market, and as we all know, the cost of restoration and maintenance, except for the very rare or historic examples, usually far exceeds the market and insurance value.

I like the peace of mind that the liability coverage gives me, and I'm willing to bet on my abilities to keep the rest of the potential losses at bay.

In the meantime, we get the privilege of running and working on these beautiful craft, perserving them for the next enthusiast, and knowing what the guys in the new stuff don't - that these are great boats, and that when done right, they give the owner and his/her family more boating pleasure for less $$ than anything you'll pick up at a boat show these days.

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Al Benton
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Post by Al Benton » Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:08 pm

You make some excellent points, Dick. Some insurance companies have rigid standards and offer no exceptions but there are others that will work with you in creating a coverage custom built to your needs. Sometimes it's a matter of getting an audience with the right person.

Welcome to Boat Buzz.


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Post by Oberon01 » Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:34 pm

JFPROPS makes a good point - sometimes it is better to self-insure. I have increased the deductible on my homes to $50k because I need protection from catastrophic loss - not small stuff. This made a big difference in the roughly $9k a year in fire insurance premiums I was paying. With regard to boats, I had more trouble insuring a new pontoon boat than I did my BB. The boat cost about $75k new and was about $1500 to insure - high but tolerable. Later, it depreciated down to about $45k and they now wanted $2k/year - I said balls to that, cancelled the policy and assumed the risk myself. Premiums of 5 to 10% of the value of an item are simply pre-paying a loss- they aren't insurance at all. SeaDoos are worse - they run about 10% and you can't buy just liability. Liability can be puchased as a blanket add on to a house policy in some places, so one may not even have to insure a boat only for liability.

My BB is insured for a substantial amount, and all they needed was a simple survey. No one can argue that a survey is too much to ask from an insured. I also don't carry anything other than liablity on my vehicles once they depreciate to about $30k - I won't like the loss if something happens but it won't ruin me, either. If a million dollar house burns down, well that's another story.

I do have a problem with insuring a boats under restoration - my current carrier won't cover that situation. Probably going to move my business to Hagerty for this reason, and I also can't adjust the value on my boats without a full survey, which is a minor problem. In any event, I'd be adjusting those values down these days anyway. In short, I think the need for insurance, other than perhaps liabilty, is highly dependant upon personal financial circumstances and risk tolerance.

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Post by MikeM » Wed Feb 11, 2009 4:00 pm

Every year or so I do the 'insurance dance' where I price check my wooden boat policies. Every year Heritage Marine Insurance has the pleasure of working with me because their price is either lower or too close to go through the hassle of changing. I haven't had to file a claim yet so I don't know how they perform when it comes to giving money back. Only taking money so far. I hope it stays that way.
1929 Hacker Craft Dolphin, 24'
1940 Century Utility, 17'
1947 Chris Craft Special, 16'
1947 Chris Craft Sportsman, 22'
1949 Chris Craft Racing Runabout, 19'
1952 Penn Yan Cartopper, 12'
1954 Chris~Craft Racing Runabout, 19' (For Sale)
1971 Century Arabian, 19'
1973 Dan Arena Custom, 21'

Russ Arrand
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Post by Russ Arrand » Sat Feb 14, 2009 10:21 pm

A customer of mine filed a claim with Haggerty after being rearended on I-75. The boat came here and we took the cover off only to find little damage to the transom. And a bit of damage to the trailer. Well as all of you know a little damage usually means a strip stain and refinish to make it as it was. Then we had to deal with how to blend in all of the transom work with the rest of the varnish. I gave Haggerty an estimate for the repairs and the trailer work. They sent a person here to see the damage. He talked to me and my customer had a check for the full amount of the estimate in one week. They were great, no 3 estimates and no problems. I guess since I restored the boat I was the one to fix it. The only problem is the deductible issue. For them it is usually 10% of the insured value. This is waived for a total loss. You can change your deductible.
Russ Arrand

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Post by cmaser » Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:21 pm

Ended up using Hagerty. Very friendly and professional, price reasonable (about $800 anually for a 1950 32 foot Enclosed Cruiser). They were very responsive to questions and very prompt.

Thanks all for the advice!

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Post by Take Time » Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:55 am

Don't forget about your home insurance company. Our 30' 1963 Connie is covered by State Farm. We had to have a clean survey for them to do it. Now the true test is to see if they drop me for a claim.


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