Insurance and repair experiences

John and Anne on Bali Hai <hollamby@...>

Reading the reports of hurricane damage reminds me of my experiences
in 1991/2 following Hurricane Bob which severely damaged my Oyster
435 in Newport,R.I.I was advised to be on a mooring not at anchor
but did not realise that I would need a long line to the buoy. There
was a 12 foot tidal surge driven by the wind and on top of that
waves which lifted the bow of the boat along with the 800lb mushroom
mooring so the boat ended up crashing on a pontoon.
My insurers in the UK appointed a Boston loss adjuster who appointed
a local surveyor to prepare a specification and get estimates from
various boatyards in New England. He gave me the opportunity of
commenting on the spec and I had another local surveyor check it out
which he did very poorly.
The estimates came in to the surveyor and varied between US$55,000
to $213,000 to "we will not quote unless you pay us for our
time". The surveyor took the two lowest estimates and took the
higher price for each item and offered me that total in full and
final settlement.
I should perhaps have mentioned that two or three hundred boats had
suffered damage up and down the coast and so surveyors were earning
a lot from insurers. I said that I was not happy and insurers told
me to get a surveyor to argue my case with their man. I was not able
to get anyone to do this.
I was not happy with the U.S. system as I was not familiar with it
and insurers agreed that I could ship the wreck back to the UK at my
expense and get it repaired there. I did this which had one great
advantage in that VAT had not been paid on it originally and so VAT
was paid on the wrecked value and insurers had to pay VAT on the
A highly regarded Cowes surveyor produced a new spec. and got prices
from three good yards at £75,000 up to £78,000 which seemed to
indicate that the new spec. was better than the American one We had
a meeting in the brokers office when my surveyor told me that
certain items would not be acceptable to insurers and he deleted
them before announcing that he could not negotiate on my behalf with
insurers as they were his more important clients.This shook me and
made me realise why I had had problems getting professional help.
Thus the works proceeded without supervision and other items were
uncovered in the process, notably I had to pay for a new engine as I
had allowed insurers to make me sign "in full and final settlement"
before they would OK the settlement.
The whole miserable process took many many months and whilst at that
time I blamed insurers the fact of the matter is that I came to
believe that many yacht surveyors are whores in bed with insurers.
I sincerely hope that the unlucky owners who suffered from Ivan fare
much better than I did.
Incidentally I doubt whether anywhere in the Caribbean is safe from
the occasional hurricane.They say they never go as far south as
Trinidad but when we were in "safe" Curacao the authorities taped up
all the glass in their office windows and in the event the storm
passed over Caracas and mudslides killed hundreds in the slums built
in the valleys.

Best wishes for now, Anne and John, Bali Hai SM319

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