How to make a good hurricane and named storm plan that your boat insurance company will approve, and that you can realistically follow.
Each insurance company has their own guidelines, so be sure you follow them, but below will help you make a good hurricane plan. When in doubt, ask your insurance broker.
If you keep your boat anywhere in a hurricane exposed area such as the Caribbean, Bahamas, or Southeast and Gulf Coast USA, there is a strong chance that your boat insurance company will want you to create and submit a hurricane plan to show how and where your boat or yacht will be secured in the event that a named or numbered windstorm is heading your way.
For the last 4 years hurricanes have devastated the Caribbean, Bahamas, and the Southern USA, leading to huge losses for yacht insurance companies, which only means one thing for boats kept in hurricane exposed areas……Higher insurance premiums every year, and a more of a pedantic view of hurricane plans that are submitted.
Each boat insurance company has their own hurricane/named/numbered storm plan form and questions, but here are some things to consider when creating your hurricane plan.
1. Can you actually follow your hurricane plan?
Most importantly, you MUST be able to follow your hurricane plan. If you do not follow your hurricane plan/named storm plan and your boat is damaged by a named or numbered windstorm, then your boat insurance carrier can deny a claim. The boat insurance company accepts the risk of insuring your boat in a hurricane exposed area because they have reviewed and feel like your plan is safe. If you do not follow your hurricane plan, this can void your policy.
It is important to be realistic and honest with the carrier and yourself when creating your hurricane plan. Really picture what it is going to be like when you see a named storm approaching 10 days out.
What happens if you are in the Bahamas and your hurricane plan says you will be in Fort Lauderdale, but you cant get back to Fort Lauderdale because of a breakdown, or some other unpredicted event….
If there is a named storm on the horizon, a yacht insurance carrier will usually not allow for hurricane plan changes. Do not leave it until the last minute to update your hurricane plan if it changes.
You need to have a named storm plan that you can 100% follow, so really think about this and take time when creating your hurricane plan.
2. What location will you secure the boat when the named storm is approaching?
This is usually the most important thing that boat insurance companies look at when reviewing your boat insurance hurricane plan.
Find a marina that has a good reputation for being a safe harbor during hurricanes and see if you can secure a hurricane reservation, or even better, keep your boat full time when you are not cruising in a hurricane safe marina.
IMPORTANT: If you do not have a reservation or guarantee that you can move your vessel to a specific marina, then do not put that marina on your hurricane plan, because when a hurricane is approaching marinas fill up almost instantly and you may not be able to get a reservation. The same goes for a hurricane haul out, if you do not have a hurricane haul out agreement, or your boat is not already on the hard, do not tell the carrier that you will haul your vessel.
To follow the above important note, the best way to be sure where you can keep your boat during a named storm is to actually have a reservation for a marina, or a haul out contract. These are expensive, but they are necessary when you are in a hurricane exposed area during hurricane season.
Many cruisers do not have a marina, because they cruise actively. Boat insurance companies will not accept “ We will sail away from the hurricane” as a hurricane plan, because they know that unforeseen events sometimes make this impossible to follow.
3. How will the boat be secured?
Think carefully about how many dock lines you will use and what configuration the lines will be in. Also think about fenders and if you will have to secure any other unsecured boats nearby so they don’t hit your boat…..most damage to boats comes from other boats not being secured correctly.
Prepare and learn how to take the sails and canvas down as well as how to store anything on deck down below.
Think about what you will do with your dingy and where you will store it.
Are your batteries fully charged….. The list goes on, so take time before hurricane season to come up with the procedures you will follow.
4. Do you live far away from where you keep your boat?
If there is any chance that you are not going to be able to get to your boat to secure it and follow your yacht insurance hurricane plan, then be sure that you have someone else who can definitely be able to do this for you. The carrier will usually want you to include this on your hurricane plan.
5. Do you have a backup plan?
Most boat insurance companies will ask if you to have a backup plan that you can follow in the event that you cannot follow your primary hurricane plan. Again, go over the above questions and consider the above when creating your backup plan.
Here are the below questions that a boat insurance company usually asks on your hurricane/named/numbered storm plan.
What is the full mooring address where your boat be secured (Name and Contact Details of the marina or residence where the vessel will be kept)?
Who is going to be responsible for the boat before and after the named storm?
How frequently do you or the person named above visit the boat?
Who else has the authority to move the boat and prepare for the storm?
How many lines will be used to secure the boat?
Size and Diameter of the lines?
Number of Fenders?
Will all items on deck including canvas, sails, and the tender/dingy be removed?
If the boat is stored on the hard, how is the boat secured and is all canvas and sail removed?
What is your backup plan in case you cannot follow your plan above?
Please provide a drawing of how the vessel is to be secured.
In most hurricane plan forms, the insurance company will almost always include a disclosure that you must follow your plan otherwise they can decline a claim, so again, be sure that you are 100% honest and able to follow the plan that you tell the carrier.
Stay safe and good luck.
Any questions about the above, please feel free to Email or Call 843-410-2990, or if you would like quotes, or you can complete our online insurance application.