Many people ask me what sets Ahoy! apart from traditional insurers. Well, for one thing, we are boaters. There is no one that better understands the joys and pains of owning and caring for a boat - as well as the risks associated with that - than a bunch of seasoned boat owners. So it makes sense that an insurance program designed by expert boaters will best fit the needs of the modern boater.
A number of years ago, I was shopping for insurance for a boat I had just purchased. I called a broker recommended to me by the marina from which I was planning to store my boat. While the agent said he was a boater, I felt like I was talking to someone who didn’t understand much about boating. For example, I wanted to know what’s covered in case of specific events such as damage caused by tropical storms, or instances requiring basic towing service and rescue at sea. I asked several questions, for example, “would these be covered in the policy, and under what circumstances? If a repair is needed, would I be able to hire my own contractors and get reimbursed for the costs?” I felt that the agent could not answer my questions. He would only say that if my boat is damaged, the insurer will call in a surveyor/adjuster to determine if the damage is due to wear and tear or other circumstances. Once I file a claim they will decide whether or not I’m covered. Say what?
With the traditional insurer, in order to even qualify for a policy, they required me to hire an independent surveyor which cost me around $1000. Since I bought the boat in another state, it was a pain in the neck to hire someone remotely. The usual boat insurance policies also have a lot of loopholes and exclusions when it comes to recreational boats. Many policies don’t cover racing of any kind. Those policies are either silent about racing or they charge a 25-30% markup the minute you mention it.
Sadly, a year later I did have to file a claim on my boat. I contacted the company one day in early July to request an authorized vendor for repair. First, they insisted on sending a surveyor which took them a couple of weeks. After that, they dragged their feet in making a decision on whether or not I would be covered, causing me to wait about two months. The boatyard where I had hauled the boat started to get impatient and demanded I pay storage fees. My boat was out of commission for the rest of the summer while I anxiously awaited for someone to handle my claim. In the end, not only did they deny my claim, they also informed me they will not even insure this type of boat! (Even though I had submitted a survey and the company had happily taken my money.) Adding insult to injury, they wouldn’t renew my policy, as well as added a note that prevented me from insuring the boat with other carriers. I’ll bet you already guessed, I didn’t get my premiums back when my policy was canceled. I felt like I’d been sent up the creek without a paddle.
Ahoy’s end-to-end process is much simpler and way more transparent. First of all, the survey is not mandatory. While a survey is recommended (and also benefits the policyholder) it’s not required. The Ahoy! app provides simple step-by-step instructions to self-inspect your boat. The boat owner is guided to take pictures of the starboard side, port, bow, stern, engine, any special instruments such as navigation, and the bottom of the boat, if possible, Once these pictures are uploaded to the Ahoy! cloud, the customer becomes eligible for a reduced claim deductible later on. In addition to saving the customer’s money, the self-survey also helps later when filing a claim because it’s easy to compare before and after pictures.
The Ahoy! coverage plan is clear and more comprehensive compared with traditional policies. For example, towing insurance is standard in the Ahoy! policy and not an add-on. Processing a claim is easier and faster. We developed remote video capabilities (think of a super-charged Facetime call) which enables our surveyor/adjuster to assess the situation remotely, when possible. In cases where an onsite inspection is required, we make sure the surveyor/adjuster shows up in a timely manner so your claim can be processed quickly. Once a claim is approved, money is paid out via direct deposit into your bank account. If the repair is expected to take longer than a few days (for example, with damage to the bow) the policy covers the rental fee for a replacement boat.
But we don't stop there. Contrary to traditional insurers who would rather not hear from you once you purchase the policy, Ahoy! is a high-touch insurance company. By that, I mean that we are with you not only to cover a loss but also to help prevent it from happening in the first place. Ahoy!’s breakthrough mobile app provides notifications when you are approaching an obstacle - whether above or underwater. Another personal favorite of mine is lost phone coverage. If you have the app on your phone and it gets lost while on the water (and only Neptune knows how many of those I have lost over the years!) Ahoy! pays for a replacement! All of these features and many others lead to greater peace of mind and a more enjoyable boating experience.
Boating is in my DNA and I’m proud to be part of this community. I started cruising and racing in the Mediterranean sea for almost a decade before becoming a skipper. Years later, before starting a sailing club in the New York Harbor, I became a US Coast Guard licensed captain. I am currently a Master of Vessels up to 50 Tons with Auxiliary Sail and Assistance Towing Endorsements and a NauticEd certified sailing instructor. Boating and Ahoy! have merged my passion into a mission: to introduce more people to the boating lifestyle and to promote boating safety.
No matter what my credentials are or how many years I’ve been out on the water, my heart still skips a beat every time I navigate a boat out of the harbor. My perfect day on a boat is sailing with steady winds and good company. I am excited to be part of a great team that is working hard to help our customers enjoy more moments like these.