Preparing for “The Big One”

Hurricane season consistently gives Caribbean boat owners nightmares. One of the most iconic and memorable photos of Hurricane Irma’s aftermath was the shot of yachts in Paraquita Bay – one of Tortola’s sanctioned “marine shelters” – smashed together and stacked one on top of another, like barnacles covering an unseen boulder. In addition to being a testament to the storm’s ferocity, it served as a visual reminder of an unfortunate reality: though the Caribbean may be a sunny mecca for sailors, its yearly hurricane season will always be a precarious, nerve-wracking time for anyone lucky – or unlucky – enough to own a boat in the region. 

Insurance only complicates matters even further: boat owners who aren’t familiar with every aspect of their hurricane coverage may find themselves underinsured or cast off on a technicality if and when their boat is damaged by the region’s severe weather. 

“The owner of [a] vessel must advise insurers of their hurricane preparedness plan, location, number of stands used, size of chains or strands used on the vessel, number of anchors used, etc.,” explains Jera Cameron, the director of the marine department at the Tortola-based Caribbean Insurers Group, “It is the owner’s responsibility to advise insurers of their hurricane preparedness plan, and once agreed by insurers, we can proceed with covering the vessel.”


Property Sales

Before enduring the potential turbulence of another Caribbean storm season, the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) recommends preparing that plan and investigating every detail of your coverage. That means checking on things you may not have thought of at first – like a policy’s salvage costs.

“Most boaters assume that the cost of raising or moving a damaged boat to a safe location – salvage coverage – is included in their insurance policy,” a BoatUS press release reads, “And with better policies that’s true: They offer salvage coverage that is separate but equal to the boat’s hull coverage limit. This means a boat that’s insured for $40,000 (hull coverage) has another separate $40,000 available to raise or move the boat (salvage coverage) to a repair facility.”

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