Why You’re Under Compensated for Your Florida Yacht Damage Claim and What to Do Next

So you’ve finally made it — you’ve saved and planned, found the perfect yacht, and are enjoying the beautiful Florida waters as much as you can. Then, suddenly, the unimaginable happens. There’s an accident. Or a storm. Or another incident that causes damage to your beautiful vessel.

Now what are you going to do?

The first thing that you should do is contact your boat insurance company to report the claim and document all of the damage. Take photos, videos, and notes. That way, when the insurance adjuster comes, you’re already a step ahead. Making your own documentation also ensures that nothing is overlooked by the adjuster during their inspection.

Of course, even the best documentation and preparation can still lead to the claims department trying to lowball you on your Florida yacht damage claim, and usually through no fault of your own. Fortunately, if you’re dealing with a low settlement offer and you’re not sure how to proceed, you aren’t alone. The team at On Target Claims, with our experienced, licensed public insurance adjusters, is here to help. 

For starters, we can review your yacht insurance claim and ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve. And in the meantime, we can also help you better understand yacht insurance and the claims process, as well as how to deal with insurance companies who are always looking out for themselves first. 

What Does Yacht Insurance Cover? 

Yacht insurance, also sometimes just called boat insurance, is coverage that is designed to protect your vessel from several different perils and sources of damage. Boat insurance is not required in the state of Florida. However, it is always recommended for:

  • Large sailboats
  • Jetboats
  • Yachts
  • Personal watercraft
  • Any vessel with speeds over 25 MPH

Boats with small engines, those that travel at low speeds, and man-powered boats like canoes and kayaks don’t necessarily require insurance, but yachts are in a much higher price bracket, and therefore it makes sense to insure them accordingly. 

You will want to make sure that you have property damage liability, collision coverage, bodily injury liability coverage, hull coverage, and fuel spill liability. The first few are similar to vehicle insurance, but the last two are specific to boats and important to have:

Hull coverage protects you against any physical damage to your yacht, as well as trailers, equipment, accessories, and motors that go with it. 

Fuel spill liability protects you by paying fines related to fuel spills caused by accidents or incidents on or involving your yacht. 

Owners can purchase liability insurance in amounts ranging from $15,000 to $300,000, in addition to an array of other types of coverage:

  • Damage to the boat and any permanently attached equipment. 
  • Damage or destruction from collision, theft or vandalism, or acts of nature. 
  • Liability coverage for bodily injuries incurred on your yacht. 
  • Property damage liability to cover any property that your boat damages. 
  • Medical payments coverage, to provide medical coverage for you and your passengers. 
  • Guest passenger liability, which provides legal coverage for someone else driving your boat during an incident. 

More importantly, your yacht insurance will not cover:

  • Normal wear and tear
  • Machinery damage or defects
  • Damage from sharks and other wildlife
  • Damage from insects, mold, or zebra mussels

That last one is oddly specific, but a big problem in ocean waters and one that insurance companies see as due diligence on the part of the yacht owner as a part of routine maintenance. 

How to Know if You Have a Claim to File 

If your yacht has been damaged in an accident caused by you or someone else, the first step is to determine what kind of damage has occurred. In some instances, it may be obvious that an insurance claim needs to be filed. In other cases, you might have to do a little more investigating. You can call and ask your insurance company, but bear in mind that their goal is not to process claims if they can avoid it, so their advice might not be in your best interests. 

If you want an objective perspective, consider consulting a public insurance adjuster. They can review your situation and help you determine if you have a claim. Plus, they can ensure that you’re getting the maximum compensation for your yacht damage claim and that the insurance company handles everything expediently. 

Tips for Negotiating a Better Settlement 

If you’re not satisfied with your Florida Yacht damage claim settlement offer, you don’t have to accept it. The insurance company is going to try to get you to settle for the lowest possible amount. That doesn’t mean you have to give in. In addition to enlisting the help of a public insurance adjuster or other support, here are some tips to help you improve your chances of getting fair compensation:

  • Understand your insurance coverage and what it includes, as well as what is specifically excluded. This is critical to ensure that you know what you are owed and what you deserve. 
  • File the claim as soon as possible. Insurance companies like to use delays as a reason to deny claims (in full or in part), so make sure there are no delays on your end. 
  • Know what your claim is worth in the first place. Having an independent claim review done by a public insurance adjuster can help you anticipate what to expect from the insurance company. Then, if they don’t deliver, you can negotiate for a higher amount. 
  • Document everything as much as you can. Take pictures and video. Make notes. Document phone calls, digital and physical submissions, and other elements of the claims process. That way, you have evidence to support your argument for a better claim settlement.
  • Make sure you have full replacement cost coverage and not just actual cash value (ACV) coverage. The latter only pays you for the depreciated value of your yacht at the time of damage, while the former will ensure that it is restored perfectly or replaced with an equally valued model at current market rates. 
  • Let the experts do the talking for you. A public insurance adjuster isn’t just for helping you understand the claims process. They can also negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and you should let them. Take advantage of their expertise to maximize your yacht damage claim. 

When you have the experts on your side, you will know that you’re getting the coverage that you deserve. 

What Insurance Adjusters Are Looking For

Here’s the bulk of what you need to know about why you’re being under-compensated for your Florida yacht damage claim. In almost every instance, it comes down to a matter of adjusting and underwriting. When you call to file an insurance claim, the process will be put into motion. That will result in an adjuster coming out to your yacht on behalf of the insurance company to survey the damage. 

The adjuster will prepare a report that documents:

  • What damage was caused 
  • What incident caused the damage
  • The date and time of the incident
  • Weather conditions and other circumstantial factors 
  • What kind of repairs or replacements will be necessary 

Then, that document will be sent to the internal adjusters and underwriters who handle the behind-the-scenes work. Their job is to put the claim under a microscope and try to eliminate as many possible claim payouts as possible. In many cases, they will find a way to whittle a claim valued at tens of thousands of dollars down to just a fraction of that amount, based on the various circumstances involved. 

They look for things like:

  • Damage caused by normal wear and tear
  • Pre-existing damage or conditions that led to the incident
  • Who was at fault 
  • Who was driving the yacht at the time of the incident (if relevant to a collision, as they can deny coverage for uninsured drivers or those who don’t have coverage for additional drivers)
  • How long you waited to file the claim
  • What kind of incident caused the claim 
  • Specific exclusions or limitations of your yacht insurance coverage

Basically, instead of just paying your claim at the full amount, insurance companies will put people to work to ensure that they aren’t spending a dime more than they absolutely have to. Sure, insurance companies offer products that protect you, but that’s only after they protect their bottom line first. 

If a claim is going to be covered on your yacht insurance policy, it needs to be the result of a “sudden and accidental” incident. A public insurance adjuster can help you make sure that’s the case and that you present it to the insurance company accordingly. That way, you can get the maximum settlement that you are entitled to. 

Contact a Public Insurance Adjuster for Assistance 

Filing a yacht insurance claim takes some time and diligence, but it doesn’t have to be a challenge. And remember, you’re not alone and it is best if you don’t try to handle your claim on your own. The team at On Target Claims has years of experience in public insurance adjusting and can help you get the compensation that you deserve. If you feel that you are being offered less than fair compensation on your Florida yacht damage claim, contact us to find out how we can help. 

Call On Target Claims at 954-266-0541 to learn more or schedule your consultation today. 

Related Content: What Does Boat Insurance in Florida Covers?

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