The boat won’t be put into water before spring, but once it’s delivered, it’s our responsibility to have it insured. So, for the last couple of days, that’s what I’ve been trying to figure out: what is the best insurance company for us and our cute little boat.
Boat Insurace – Not That Easy
When buying insurance for a car (or some other relatively common things moving on wheels on ground), it’s quite easy: just fill in your register number on some of the numerous insurance providers’ web sites and pick whichever is the cheapest. The car insurance terms over here in Finland are pretty much standardized so price is usually what counts.
Insuring a new sailboat isn’t quite that easy.
“Oh it’s in Germany?”, the friendly insurance salesperson of one of the largest financial companies in Finland replies on the phone, “We generally only insure boats in Finland. Also, we’d probably have to have one of our surveyors check it before being able to offer insurance, and I don’t think we will send anyone to Germany to do it.”
All (or most of) the traditional insurance companies do offer boat insurance, but things get a bit more tricky when the insured value goes up above 100,000€, and a lot more tricky when the boat is going to be moved around and stored in a far away and exotic country like Germany.
(No no, it’s not really that far away and exotic, I was just trying to be a bit funny there!)
Luckily, there are companies that specialize in boat insurance and after being turned down (or off) by all the traditional insurers, here’s where we’re at.
Alandia or Pantaenius
Both Alandia and Pantaenius specialize in marine insurance. Pantaenius seems to have a larger global presence with Alandia being the smaller one, but with more focus on the Nordic countries, where we actually are going to sail. If you like to speak Finnish, for example, not English, then Alandia may be the obviously better choice of the two.
Comparing the insurance offers isn’t that easy. Both companies have more than twenty pages of detailed terms & clauses, and it takes some effort to figure out how they compare. Here’s my short list of findings:
Interestingly, both companies have very similar prices. With the options I selected they offer full insurance for a yearly fee of about 0.9% of the insured value (which for us is the price of a brand new boat). So for a boat valued 227,000€, the full insurance cost is about 2,000€/year.
What They Pay If …
So, both companies insure the yacht (along with equipment, dinghy, etc) for the full acquisition price.
In case of a total loss (that is, the whole boat is destroyed or unrepairable or too costly to repair), Pantaenius will pay to us the full insured amount without age deductions, while Alandia will reduce the sum to match the market price of a yacht of similar age.
To me this actually feels like a big deal. The price of a two year old Hanse 388 is probably well below that of a brand new one (ok, actually I hope that it isn’t that much lower 😄). Should something terrible happen it is a very appealing thought that we could buy another new yacht with whatever options and designs we want, instead of having to shop on the very limited second hand market for something that is just close enough.
Both companies have some deductions to the compensation amounts, Pantaenius slightly fewer than Alandia. (Both give the possibility to further reduce the deductions, though, by paying a higher insurance premium. )
– collision while mooring
Pantaenius and Alandia both cover the areas we intend to sail (the Baltic Sea). Storing the boat in Germany isn’t included by default in Alandia’s coverage, but can be acquired at an extra cost.
What is equally or even more important than the coverage area, though, is how well the company is able to operate within the area if an accident should happen. Something goes terribly wrong. Who do we call? What happens next? What if the boat needs to be towed? Which yard does the repairs? Are they good at what they do? Etc.
The proof is in the pudding, but that’s obviously a pudding we wish we will never have to eat. So we don’t know. The internet discussion groups seem quite satisfied with Pantaenius. Can’t find very much about Alandia, but the little I’ve found has been positive as well.
Time to Decide
I had a long chat with Alandia yesterday where I told (the absolutely wonderfully delightful!) salesperson about the comparison I had made, and that I’m leaning a bit towards buying the insurance from their competitor.
“But, why?”, she asked me very very nicely, “can you explain to me why you prefer them over us?”
I thought about it for a while. And ended up realizing that I’m just another (flawed) human being and consumer, after all. Sometimes constructing my choices somewhat logically (like Spock!), but more often than not following my not-so-rational intuition. After a few moments of introspection, here’s my honest answer to the why:
- The substance. The material differences in the offers aren’t decisive (for us). Pantaenius’ “new value” is great but Alandia might have better local knowledge and connections within our immediate sailing area. Of the Finnish insurance providers I contacted, Alandia is the clear winner (and they speak Finnish!), so I warmly recommend to give them a call!
- The brand. I started sailing about twenty years ago and I’ve grown up (or grown older) appreciating the Pantaenius brand. When there’s cool stuff happening at sea, there is Pantaenius identifying themselves as a part of it. As a consumer, I buy into that brand and if we choose their insurance, it feels like becoming a small part of that (branded) world. (See their Instagram account, for examples of this.) I’m a bit surprised myself, at how much these (partly subconscious) thoughts drive my purchasing decisions.
- The “not Finland”. This is not very fair to Alandia, but I’m a bit allergic to “nationalistic buying”, meaning that because I live in Finland I should also buy from companies in Finland. I sincerely think that forging connections between people and companies over our national borders is a better strategy that will lead to more and better for us all. As a part of this boat project, I’m trying to do just so.
Stop press! A Picture!
As I’m writing this blog post I just now received an email from our dealer confirming that the boat actually is ready and the inspection will be this Friday! And Hanse sent a picture (to prove that it really exists)!
So, I’ll just order the insurance then.
And hope that it will be a mostly uneventful affair of us paying the insurance premiums, and feeling that much more confident and relaxed because we do.
But, oh my, and wow. Ladies and gentlemen! Here is the very first picture we’ve seen of our new sailboat!