Should You Buy Special Boat Insurance?

 

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Boats?

Homeowners policies cover very few boats for liability, and almost none for theft or damage. You can add liability coverage for an extra charge, but you’ll need a boat policy for more property coverage.

Boat Property Coverage on a Homeowners Policy

Most Maine homeowners, condo and renters insurance policies limit watercraft coverage to $1,500. Windstorm and hail damage is only covered if your boat is indoors. Theft is only covered if it’s at your home. Basically, anything bigger than a canoe needs a separate boat policy.

Boat Liability Coverage on a Homeowners Policy

Only sailboats less than 26 feet and power boats with less than a 25 hp motor are covered on most Maine homeowners policies. Anything larger than that, you need to buy either a boat policy or an endorsement to your homeowners, condo or renters insurance.

Why Don’t Homeowners Policies Cover More Boats?

Insurance companies try to include coverage that most people need. That’s why small outbuildings and garages are usually automatically covered. To keep premiums lower, they don’t include coverage for property that the majority of home owners don’t have. So, boats, firearms, jewelry and silver require special coverage, at an additional charge.

All Boat Insurance is NOT Alike

When buying boat insurance, pay attention to the details. Coverage varies a lot! Some insurers value your boat like a car (book value), while others will replace your 3 year old boat with a brand new model. Some will cover catastrophic motor failure, others will say “bummer”. Some will pay to haul your boat from the bottom after a through hull fitting fails. Others will write a check for the boat and walk away.  Choose the insurance you’re most comfortable with.

infographic of common boat insurance gaps

 

 

Where to Buy Maine Boat Insurance

Contact your local insurance agent and ask them about these coverages. They should have a policy that fits your needs and your budget. If you live in Southern Maine and are looking for a boat insurance agent, call Noyes Hall & Allen in South Portland at 207-799-5541, or leave your contact info here and we’ll reach out. We insure watercraft from aluminum runabouts to antique wooden sailboats. We offer a choice from many insurance companies. We’re independent and committed to you.


Related Post: How Much Does Maine Boat Insurance Cost? 

How Much Does Boat Insurance Cost in Portland Maine?

Maine insurance rates are among the lowest in the country. That’s true for boat insurance too. That’s a good thing, because Maine has some of the best boating in the country, from the islands of Casco Bay to thousands of lakes and ponds. How much does Maine boat insurance cost? About $400 on average for clients of our Portland insurance agency. That cost varies, from $100 to $1400 per year.

Which Boats are Cheapest to Insure in Maine?

Not surprisingly, many factors affect the cost of Maine boat insurance. Most of them depend upon you and the boat you own. Here are the top four factors that influence the cost of boat insurance.

Age and Value of Boat

The more expensive the vessel, the more it costs to insure. Makes sense, right?

Age matters, too. Picture two identical sailboats on adjacent moorings in Portland Harbor. One is 20 years older. The older boat’s insurance is more expensive. Insurance underwriters charge extra for yachts over 11 years old. Vessels older than 20 years may need a condition & valuation survey to get insurance.

Your Experience

Have you operated boats for years? You get good insurance rates. Were those boats similar to the one you’re insuring? That’s even better. Have you owned (vs. operated) a similar vessel? Boat insurance underwriters love that. Have a Coast Guard Power Squadron certificate, or a captain’s license? You’ll get a discount. Bad auto driving record? You’ll pay more for boat insurance.

Vessel Type and Equipment

Assuming boats of comparable value, sailboats are the cheaper to insure than power boats. Diesel powered craft are cheaper to insure than gas powered ones. The slower the maximum speed, the lower the insurance cost. Speedboat insurance costs the most. Do you live aboard your boat? Expect to pay quite a bit more than the weekend sailor at the next slip. But at least you don’t have to mow the lawn.

Boat Insurance Discounts

You’ll earn boat insurance discounts for onboard safety equipment. Some examples:

  • Depth finder
  • GPS/Radar/Loran
  • Automatic fire extinguishing system
  • VHF radio
  • Vapor detector

Where and When You Use the Boat

Your boat insurance policy may have a navigational limit. It may also have a “layup clause”, which specifies dates during which it can be in the water. If your vessel is outside the territory or in the water when it’s supposed to be laid up, you have no insurance.

A smaller navigation radius and a longer storage period means lower boat insurance costs. “Fresh water only” navigation is cheaper than coastal. For Maine saltwater boaters, Eastport to Cape Ann is a common navigation territory. The most common storage (or “layup”) requirement is November 1 to April 1. Some of our clients who take their boats south for the winter. They need a different navigation territory and layup clause – and pay more premium for them.

Where to Get Boat Insurance in Portland Maine

Do you need insurance on a boat or yacht in the Portland Maine / Casco Bay area? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice from several of Maine’s best boat insurance companies, so we can help you find the best value. We’re independent and committed to you.

Where to Live in Portland, Maine

It seems like everyone wants to live in Portland, Maine. Hardly a week goes by that we’re not on some “best of” list. College graduates flock here for the food, drink, entertainment and active sports scene. Retirees downsize to Portland for cultural options and top-shelf medical facilities. Everyone loves the city’s size. It’s big enough to keep you busy, small enough to find your “tribe”, and see them often about town.

Many new Portland Maine residents want to be “on the peninsula”. Portland’s downtown is flanked by hills overlooking the east and west ends, and water access on the north and south. Almost anywhere on the peninsula, you can walk from grocery to gallery, beach to brewery, or concert hall to coffee shop. And you can’t spin a lobster without pointing to a restaurant.

What’s the Best Neighborhood in Portland Maine?

With so many great neighborhoods, it’s more about finding the best fit for you. We’ve broken down the choices to help you decide where to look. All the neighborhoods are in Portland, unless noted.

Near Lots of Restaurants (walking distance):

map of Portland Maine neighborhoods
Some popular Portland Maine neighborhoods
  • Munjoy Hill
  • Newbury / India Street
  • Old Port
  • Meeting House Hill (South Portland)

Near Nightlife and Music Venues:

  • Old Port
  • Congress St – mid-town
  • Longfellow Square

Near Beaches and Trails:

  • Baxter Boulevard
  • Newbury / India Street
  • Ferry Village / Willard Square (South Portland)
  • Munjoy Hill

Car-Free Possible:

  • Knightville (South Portland)
  • Bayside & Parkside
  • Congress St. – mid-town
  • Longfellow Square

Mostly Residential:

map of South Portland Maine's east end
Popular neighborhoods in the east end of South Portland Maine
  • Oakdale
  • West End
  • Ferry Village (South Portland)
  • Meeting House Hill / Willard Square (South Portland)

Less Congested, but Close to the City:

  • Deering Center / Rosemont
  • North Deering
  • Ferry Village (South Portland)
  • Meeting House Hill (South Portland)
  • Peaks Island

Drive-to Cheaper Rents in Portland Metro Area:

  • Westbrook
  • Old Orchard Beach
  • Redbank / Brick Hill (South Portland)
  • Riverton

Older Apartments with Character:

  • West End
  • Oakdale
  • Deering Center
  • Old Port

Sleek New Apartments and Condos:

  • Munjoy Hill
  • Newbury / India Streets
  • Bayside
  • Commercial St.

What’s the Cost of Living in Portland Maine?

Like many coastal cities, Portland Maine’s cost of living is above average. But, it’s about 50% less than New York and almost 30% less than Boston. The biggest outlier in our cost of living is housing cost: about 57% higher than the U.S. average. You might need to compromise on your “wish list” to find a place you can afford. And, because it’s so popular, it’s a seller’s market right now. If you see a great house, condo or apartment, it likely won’t be on the market tomorrow.

Moving to Portland, Maine?

You’re going to love it! We’ve been here since 1933, and are proud to be active in our community. We sponsor local non-profits and events. We champion fellow small businesses. We volunteer and buy local. Find us in the Knightville / Mill Creek area of South Portland, across the Casco Bay Bridge from Portland. We love to share our knowledge about the place we call home.

Need insurance for your car, apartment, boat, snowmobile, home or condo? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541. We represent many insurers and can compare rates and coverage to find you the best value. We’re independent and committed to you.

Not ready to talk to an insurance agent? You can get real insurance quotes online in 10 minutes from our website.

Should I Pay a Small Insurance Claim Myself, or Report It?

 

You clip your mirror on the garage door frame. Your daughter hits a golf ball through your neighbor’s window. Your shower drain leaks, staining your kitchen ceiling.  Should I file an insurance claim, or just pay it myself? How much will my insurance rates go up if I file a claim? Clients often ask us questions like this.

The answer may depend on your individual financial circumstances, insurance policy and who else was involved.

Definitely File an Insurance Claim If:

  • There’s even a CHANCE anyone was injured. Even if someone says at the scene that they’re “fine”, they can always claim that the injury wasn’t apparent until later. Sometimes, that’s the truth; other times it’s bogus. Insurance adjusters are experienced at weeding out legitimate claims from fraudulent ones. If you delay reporting the claim to your insurance company, you may jeopardize their ability to adjust the claim. They can refuse to honor your claim or defend you in that case.
  • The other party seems antagonistic or dishonest. Difficult people are hard to satisfy; and not everyone is as honest as you are. You may think that their damage or injury is minor, and offer to pay it, only to have them increase their demands. If you promise to pay something, and then turn it over to your insurer, you’ve taken away their ability to settle properly. You may find yourself on your own to pay.

Think BEFORE Reporting an Insurance Claim

Once you report a claim, it’s on your record – even if it ends up being uncovered, below your deductible, or you end up paying it yourself. And insurers consider claims when pricing your policy. Some insurance companies even charge you more for claims when nothing was paid. 

Wait…I get charged extra for saving the insurance company money by paying for my own damage? Is that fair? It sure seems wrong at first thought. Insurance companies might argue you’re more likely to have a claim if you’ve already had one. And the next one might not be so small. They need to collect more premium with the expectation of that future claim. You might say “what’s the point of having insurance in the first place?”

We’re not defending the insurance companies that charge for “no payment” claims. But, as independent insurance agents, we can advise you which companies DO charge, and how reporting a claim might affect you.

Here’s the thing: if you talk to an insurance company about a claim, they have a record of it. And, it may be used against you. If you buy your insurance directly from an insurance company (instead of an agent), you’re talking to an insurance company employee EVERY TIME you call, email or go onto their web site.


RELATED POST: What is Auto Insurance Accident Forgiveness, and Is It Worth It?


 

How Much Will My Insurance Go Up After a Claim?

It really depends. An accident surcharge is a percentage of your premium. So, if you’re paying higher rates (because of expensive vehicles, young drivers, prior accidents or violations, etc.), your increase will be bigger than someone with a lower rate. Every insurance company charges a different percentage, and for differing terms. We’ve seen increases as small as 5% for 3 years, and as high as 50% for 5 years. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t publish accident surcharge info, which would allow us to quote “what if” scenarios. But, we have enough experience to know which companies surcharge the most.


RELATED POST: Can An Insurance Company Charge Me for a Not-at-Fault Accident?


 

So, Do I Pay a Small Claim Myself, or Not?

That’s an individual decision, based upon your financial situation, risk tolerance and insurance status. You and your neighbor may make very different decisions. You might even make a different decision next year than this year. Your agent can provide as much information as they’re able, but the decision is ultimately yours.

If I’m Not Going to Put in a Small Insurance Claim, Should I Increase my Deductible?

Now you’re thinking. Higher deductibles even reduce the temptation to file a smaller claim. You also save money by choosing higher deductibles. Some companies offer larger savings than others. Your insurance agent can quote “what if” scenarios for you. Obviously, you don’t want to choose a higher deductible than you’re comfortable paying “out of pocket”. But, deductibles can be a useful risk financing tool.

Live in Southern Maine and have questions about your auto or home insurance? Call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541, or click the chat button below. We represent many different insurers. We’re independent and committed to you.

What are the Highest Rated Insurance Companies in Maine?

 

If we recommend an insurance company you haven’t heard of, it’s natural to ask how good they are. Noyes Hall & Allen represents many insurance companies. Some are more well-known than others.

Because our companies sell through independent agencies, they advertise very little. By contrast, Geico, Allstate and State Farm advertise nationally to create brand awareness. Geico alone spends $1 BILLION on advertising – about 1 out of every 6 insurance advertising dollars in the U.S.

Good rates are important, but that’s only one reason for choosing an insurance company. Will they pay your claims? Are they easy to work with? At Noyes Hall & Allen, we’ve curated a group of insurance companies that we can stand behind. We work closely with them on behalf of our clients.

How to Choose a Good Insurance Company

There are three important considerations when you evaluate a potential insurer:

  • Financial solvency – Can the insurance company can pay claims, even in a disaster? Fortunately, A.M. Best studies insurance companies and rates each one for you. Noyes Hall & Allen only chooses insurers rated “A-” (Excellent) or better.
  • Customer Satisfaction – Feedback from other customers is helpful when evaluating a new insurer. Any company can have complaints; but those with repeatedly good reviews are a better bet to provide good service to you.  The J.D. Power national claims satisfaction survey compiles consumer claim feedback every year. But they focus on big national insurers. That excludes many regional insurance companies, which are so important in the Maine market.The Maine Bureau of Insurance indexes home and auto complaints by insurer. It includes Maine’s most important insurance companies. The drawback: the Bureau doesn’t get many complaints each year. That small sample can skew results. The Bureau weighs the ratio of complaints against each insurer to that company’s volume. This weighting levels the playing field. An insurer with an index below 1.00 is “better than average”. Anything above 1.00 is “worse than average”. We’ve included a chart with a recap of those scores below.
  • Fit with Your Situation – If you insure your beach house with an insurance company that has great financials and terrific reviews, but that company doesn’t like property close to the coast, it’s not going to end well. Some insurers specialize. Others are generalists. Some are comfortable insuring rental properties, or snowmobiles. Others focus on high risk drivers.

 

Complaint Index – 2016 – Maine Home and Auto Insurance

We compiled this table from data published by the Maine Bureau of Insurance. It shows the 2 year average of home and auto complaint indexes for the top 25 homeowners and auto insurance companies in Maine (by volume). We assigned a “green light” to the companies with ratings in the top 33%, yellow to the middle 33%, and red to the bottom third. Remember, customer satisfaction is only one way to evaluate an insurance company. The companies with the highest satisfaction may not write the kind of insurance you need.

 

source: Maine Bureau of Insurance. Compiled by Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance

How to Get Quotes from Many Insurance Companies at Once

Noyes Hall & Allen has access to the companies shaded in blue. That’s 11 out of 25, covering more than 50% of the volume in this list. The insurance companies we represent have a complaint index of 0.91 – much lower than the 1.00 average. By the way, insurance agencies have online reviews, too. We’re proud to show the reviews that our clients have left for our agency.

When you contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent, you’re checking 11 companies at once, backed by our knowledge of where each company excels. Your agent can customize advice to your situation, proposing a solution built just for you.

That’s what we mean we we say we’re “Independent and Committed to You”.  Request a Maine insurance quote today, or call us at 207-799-5541.

How Do Insurance Agents & Brokers Get Paid?

 

Insurance is a $1 trillion business in the U.S. The industry employs about 2.5 million Americans, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Life/health (L/H) insurers collect about $650B and property/casualty (P/C) insurers about $500B each year.

Noyes Hall & Allen specializes in property/casualty insurance. Before talking about how property/casualty agents are paid, let’s take a brief look at the P/C business.

Maine Property/Casualty Insurance Overview

P/C insurers provide auto, home and business insurance. There are 3 top distribution models for P/C insurance sales channels (1)insurance.

  1. Direct writers rely on advertising to generate the majority of their business.  When you call or respond to an advertising piece, you’re speaking with a company employee. They only offer products from one company. GEICO, USAA and esurance are direct writers. While they don’t pay agents to generate business, they spend a LOT of money on advertising. GEICO alone spends over $1B per year.
  2. Exclusive agents (sometimes called “captive agents”) also sell insurance only from one company. Unlike direct writers, they have local agents who sell and service their products. These companies also advertise a LOT to drive business to their retail agents. Allstate, State Farm and Liberty Mutual use the exclusive agent model.
  3. Independent agents (sometimes called IAs or Trusted Choice agents) are locally owned and operated. Each contracts with 5 to 15 insurers, thus offering their clients a choice of insurance companies. IAs can access an international network of brokers for unusual insurance needs. Insurers that contract with IAs advertise much less than other insurance companies. They are less likely to be household names. Many IA insurers specialize on one region or type of customer. Popular IA insurers in Maine include: Concord Group; Hanover Insurance; MMG Insurance and Vermont Mutual.
  4. Hybrid companies (ok, this makes 4 models, but not really). These insurers will write insurance using one or more different channels. These are usually large national insurers. Examples: Hartford; Liberty Mutual; Travelers; and Progressive.

How Maine P/C Insurance Agents Make Money

Both exclusive and IA insurance companies pay agents a percentage of the premium. Commission varies by policy type and whether the policy is new or renewal. Usually, commission is between 10 and 20 percent.

Exclusive agents often make a higher percentage commission on new business than renewals. Some exclusive companies even stop paying agents after several years. This incents the exclusive agent to focus on writing new policies.

Independent agents often make the same commission on both new and renewal policies. This allows the agent to provide  consistent customer service year after year. If you’re an existing client of an independent agent, you’re even more valuable than a new one. It takes an independent agent 3-5 years to recoup the cost of insuring a new customer.

Who Pays an Insurance Agent’s Commission?

The insurance company pays the agent’s commission out of the premium they collect. There is no specific surcharge on the premium that goes to the agent. Of course, the customer pays the agent’s commission – just not by a separate line item. Insurance premiums do not rise or fall with the agent’s commission percentage.

Can You Save on Insurance if  You “Cut Out the Middleman”?

No one sales channel is always the lowest cost. Claim costs and insurance company expenses all impact premiums. Some direct writers would have you believe that you save money by bypassing an agent. In reality, you might pay MORE without an agent to advocate for you. Of course, you could pay less, too.

Our Agents Speak English – And Insurance. If you don’t know the system, you can leave money on the table. We know to ask about certain discounts. Is your child on the honor roll or away at college without a car? Your local agent may know these things, or you might ask when you call in to do something else. If your agent is independent of the insurance company, they’re more likely to act on your behalf.

If you have a question about Maine home, auto, boat, motorcycle or business insurance, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

“Can I Take My Spouse Off My Insurance?” How Divorce Affects Your Maine Insurance Policies

Divorce is a major life-change. It’s a complicated and emotional process that takes time to work through. It’s not surprising that it also can have a great effect on your personal insurance coverage. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about how divorce affects your auto and home insurance. You should discuss your individual situation with your agent and your attorney.

I Want to Take my Spouse Off My Auto Insurance

Until your divorce is final, your insurance agent should not remove anyone’s name from the policy without their written consent. An insurance policy is a contract. Your agent is responsible to BOTH parties to the contract. Each has the same rights under the policy. A professional agent will not only want to make sure that both parties remain covered; they are obligated to honor each person’s policy rights.

I Own One Vehicle, and My Spouse the Other; Can’t We Get Separate Insurance?

Maybe, but you should consult your attorney first. Maine “joint property” laws may render the registration immaterial. If the property is considered “joint property”, you both should maintain one policy until the divorce is final, and the property is separately owned. Your attorney can help you with this issue.

The Insurance Bills Go to My Spouse. Will My Policy Cancel if They Aren’t Paid? 

Yes. That’s why it’s important that your agent knows how to reach BOTH of you; you need to keep them updated. If payment of bills is a problem, discuss this with your attorney; they may be able to arrange for timely payment.

My Spouse Isn’t Reimbursing Me for Their Share of the Insurance. Why Should I Pay Their Part?

It’s important to keep your coverage in force. The best way to do that is to pay the premium that you are billed. Otherwise your policy could cancel – and you would both lose coverage. Don’t “cut off your nose to spite your face”. Talk to your attorney about evening out the financial details.

I’ve Moved Out. Does Our Homeowners Policy Still Cover My Stuff? 

It depends. It is very important that you contact your agent to discuss your individual situation.

My Spouse and I Can’t Seem to Agree on Anything.

Sometimes, it is best to let your attorney and theirs deal with these insurance issues. Have them contact your agent, and give your agent permission to talk with them.

If you are looking for a Greater Portland Maine insurance agency that understands how divorce affects your insurance, and can help you protect your assets going forward, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. Our agency represents several insurance companies, so we can offer one-stop insurance shopping.


 

February 25 Maine Wind Storm Damage Update

Our Maine insurance agency has been very busy taking claims and reporting them to insurance companies, and keeping our clients informed of the progress of their claims.

So far, the damage that’s been reported to us has been mostly concerned with homeowners insurance: trees falling on property and wind damage to buildings, followed by water backup into basements. Many Mainers lost power, which caused their sump pumps to fail, allowing water to back up into their homes.

pie chart of claims reported to Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance

What kind of damage did you have to your property?

Easy Money

Everyone’s looking to tighten up their budget these days. Many people prefer to  spread the cost of their insurance throughout the year by paying in monthly installments. But insurance companies charge an “installment charge” to cover the expense of sending those monthly bills, and to replace investment income they forgo by not collecting your premium up-front. The average “installment charge” is $5.00 per bill. That means if you pay your Maine auto insurance in monthly installments, you’re paying $50.00 or $60.00 extra a year.

Quick and Painless Savings

Instead of having the insurance company send you a bill, sign up for Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) – automatic monthly withdrawal of your premium payments from your checking account. Most companies waive the installment charges completely for EFT customers. That saves you an extra $60.00, plus the cost of stamps, checks, and the time it takes to pay the bill.

Clients of our Maine insurance agency who are snowbirds or travel frequently love EFT. They don’t have to worry about bills being forwarded, or accumulating unpaid while they’re away.

One added benefit of EFT: no more risking cancellation notices by forgetting to pay your bill. Because your payments are automatically withdrawn, they arrive on time every month, without any action on your part.

For more information about insurance discountscontact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541.

Lessons from the Lapointe Trial Verdict

Many Mainers followed the recent trial of Medway, MA and Bridgton, ME resident Robert Lapointe, who was charged with manslaughter, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and aggravated OUI following a collision on Long Lake in which killed Terry Raye Trott of Harrison and Suzanne Groetzinger of Berwick. The jury was deadlocked on the first two charges and found Lapointe guilty of the third. 


Regardless of your opinion on the case (and everyone in Maine seems to have a strong one!), there are some items worth noting:

  • The criminal trial was only part of Mr. Lapointe’s worries. There will surely be a civil trial now that the criminal trial is over. Yes, he was convicted of two counts of Aggravated OUI, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. And, the State hasn’t decided whether to re-try him on the two deadlocked charges. 
  •  A civil trial, which would likely charge wrongful death, would be protracted and expensive – regardless of the outcome. Probably the most famous civil trial following a criminal acquittal was The O.J. Simpson case. As everyone knows, Simpson was acquitted of murder in the criminal trial, only to be found guilty of civil charges, which cost $8.5 million in compensatory damages and $33.5 million in punitive damages
  • Maine homeowners insurance and Boat Insurance policies offer liability protection, including defense costs. This would apply only to civil – not criminal – charges. The maximum limits available are generally $500,000. Too many people fail to even carry this amount.
  • Personal Umbrella Insurance policies provide excess liability protection in increments of $1 million. Best of all, legal defense costs are usually NOT taken out of that limit: most policies provide a full $1 million of protection against damages.

 You probably have a tough time identifying with O.J. Simpson or Robert Lapointe. Their cases are extreme. But bad things can happen to ordinary people, too. And your assets can be wiped out by defense costs and liability judgements following an accident. 

Takeaways:
  1. Review your homeowners policy. 
  2. Compare your liability coverage to your net worth.
  3. Consider buying an umbrella policy.  
  4. Talk to your insurance agent.