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Barge Insurance in the Netherlands for American

  • Rob Davidson
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27 Oct 2023 18:39 #11 by Rob Davidson
Replied by Rob Davidson on topic Barge Insurance in the Netherlands for American
I Went  through this recently and posted this result on another thread:
" Final update: I can confirm that H-KJ can not issue policies for California (and several other US states).  It is not the brokers but their underwriters that make the call.  Digging around I found this  useful post  .  I finally got insurance through a broker for Global Yacht Cover that I found on the link.  I also contacted Global Yacht Cover directly ( www.globalyachtcover.london/  ) and they sent me links to a couple of their brokers."
Hope this helps."


Rob.

Rob DaviDson - ARMIDA

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  • Jan Pieterse
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27 Oct 2023 15:44 #12 by Jan Pieterse
Replied by Jan Pieterse on topic Barge Insurance in the Netherlands for American
what about hiring an attorney to use as agent with a Dutch address?

www.jan-kees.us
jan-kees.blog

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  • Balliol Fowden
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27 Oct 2023 11:46 #13 by Balliol Fowden
Replied by Balliol Fowden on topic Barge Insurance in the Netherlands for American
Before this conversation (on a publicly accessible forum) becomes too heated it might be sensible to re-visit the history of leisure barge insurance.

In 1984 (when I bought my ship) insurance was not a difficult issue.

Then, in 1987, it became almost impossible to insure a barge. Premiums quoted to me and the very small number of fellow Brit barge owners that I knew (3 to be precise since leisure barge owners in the English speaking sector were very thin on the ground then) were in the region of £5000 + p.a. on £100,000 insured value. That was if we could get an insurer to quote at all, and that was the predominant reality!

The major impetus for the foundation of the Dutch Barge Association in 1992 was the extreme difficulty in obtaining any form of suitable insurance cover at anything like a viable premium, if at all. The Dutch Barge Association, solely through the efforts of its founding Chair the late Geoff Bradshaw, managed to negotiate suitable cover at a viable premium on the basis of a "pot" of business, i.e. lots of barge owners as a group.

In subsequent years the barge insurance market opened up as other underwriters eyed that pot of business, and the business became competitive. On that basis the premiums have remained competitive and very reasonable for a long time. My own premium based on a £250,000 insured value has hovered around or just above the £1,000 mark for the last 30 years.

Now we have a number of inter-related new issues. Undoubtedly Brexit has caused problems for many insurers in what was Europe, although I am not sure what has changed (due Brexit) between a UK insurer and for example an American citizen owner. I have no in-depth knowledge of international insurance law and licencing so cannot comment further on that side of things.

What I do know is that the Covid pandemic has cause major changes in costs bases for all sorts of businesses. Staff shortages (both Covid and in some cases Brexit related) would be one major issue, and any loss of highly skilled fee earning employees in a relatively small shipyard will have a big effect on their main income generator, viz. labour charges. A shipyard is a specialised facility so cannot necessarily react to a drop in turnover (due to a reduction in fee earning staff) as other businesses might, for example just re-locate to smaller premises as could an industrial unit or office based business facing reduced earnings. We also all know that materials costs and availability have become a major issue, particularly in areas relevant to barges such as steel.

So shipyard businesses are facing massive increases in effective operating overheads and most other costs, which must be passed on. I suspect also that many are having to sharpen their pencils in an effort to recover ground and return to viability. Hence my own professional experience is that claims costs have increased dramatically. I know that these are not the underwriting issues being cited today (as probably the major factor) but they will nevertheless be there and another figure in an underwriter's equation.

Environmental issues are also having an increasingly major effect on claims quantum. If a vessel sinks or burns out the costs of environmental clean-ups, waste disposal and even matters like physically moving a damaged boat to a repair yard have rocketed (the latter since movement of a damaged vessel by water is now often prohibited). I see these issues all the time as I continue to investigate insurance claims on behalf of a range of underwriters.

In the face of these and other issues I guess the insurers have also had to sharpen their pencils, but that is not so easy for them in a competitive market. That is where we come back to the Association having that "pot" of business to take to (and from?) underwriters, and DBA has done well over the years to establish a good relationship with insurers, previously via GJW and now with HKJ. It could be noted here that these insurance issues are not just limited to barges. Some underwriters are (I am told) actively considering exiting the yacht market completely.

insurance companies are a business like any other. They have to be viable in a rapidly changing regulatory and claims environment. They are under absolutely no obligation to accept our business. They have every right to be as informed as possible about the individual risks they are taking on, and these too are changing. Certainly in terms of "original" barges these vessels are becoming much older, hence more of a risk. When I started surveying barges the average age of a typical class of original barge was say 60 years. The same vessels are now nigh on 100 years old. Over the last 40 years many (but not all) of these have not seen any significant internal hull maintenance, and that is where the corrosion problems are becoming much more apparent. Any policy of insurance demands that the asset concerned is maintained in suitable condition, which means that periodic inspections, testing or in our case surveys are essential. Even with 50 years experience as a professional boat builder & surveyor myself I have to submit my vessel to independent periodic survey. And periodic surveys are not just because deterioration is ongoing but also because due to all sorts of reasons such as access conditions no one survey can ever be 100%, so there are almost always new issues to be discovered at any survey that even the most skilled, caring and knowledgeable owner may not be aware of, and that is where the independent eye is so important.

The usage is also changing, with 6 month unsupervised winter layups becoming more commonplace, never a good thing with any mechanical contraption, least of all one that supposedly floats. Barge ownership has also been embraced by a much wider cross section of the community, not just pure barge nuts as was the case 40 years ago. 

So in terms of hull, machinery & equipment surveys (which I no longer perform, so I have no bias here) then as said an underwriter has every right to know what he is insuring, either in general ongoing terms or indeed after major repairs have been undertaken. Obviously this applies in large part to hull condition, and original boats will be somewhat more of a concern than newer vessels, but even the "replicas" have been around for up to 40 years now and there are plenty of potential risks to consider other than pure hull condition, particularly the increasingly complex and energy dense electrical installations.

As said I think that the Association has done well to maintain a good relationship so far with a market leading underwriter such as HKJ. 
GJW were also of course extremely good until management changes prompted their change of course. It might be reassuring for some, and enhance our understanding, if DBA were to actually obtain a more detailed and open statement from HKJ to explain more clearly what the present international restrictions on licencing are, and perhaps it is time for another major exercise in rebuilding the DBA "pot" of business. The present commissions extracted from the Associations' favoured insurers might be a question to look at since clearly these reduce the insurers' viability and competitiveness. Equally, it demands a degree of group loyalty from the membership, not chopping and changing underwriter for the sake of the cost of a meal out.

What must be clear is that insurance companies will not be actively seeking to reduce their own business potential without very good reason, and that whatever issues exist will be largely beyond their control, so it is hardly helpful to be aggressive in print.

Balliol.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Colin Stone, Tam Murrell, Andy Soper, Bob Marsland, Julian Edwards, Stuart Sim, Peter Abbott

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  • Peter Milne
  • Quo Vadis
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27 Oct 2023 10:35 #14 by Peter Milne
Replied by Peter Milne on topic Barge Insurance in the Netherlands for American
Sadly and infuriatingly, every insurer changes policy from time to time.  Normally this is for reasons outside their control.  In 12 years I've been insured by three Dutch companies, each of which has had to apologetically refuse my renewal.  One, a mutual, decided to reduce to Benelux residents only (perhaps because those customers premiums were being pushed up by the cost of repairs in France); another was hit by brexit and acould not legally continue the insurance.  DNA, as a broker, found my current insurer.  As Mike says it's got more complicated - and not just in the UK! 
 

Pete Milne, Quo Vadis & De Zwaan , Gent.
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  • Ian McCauley
  • Back in Oz
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26 Oct 2023 23:29 #15 by Ian McCauley
Replied by Ian McCauley on topic Barge Insurance in the Netherlands for American

Mike Gibbons wrote: but I wouldn’t be dropping it as an option without checking if there’s any likelihood of that applying to those residents. Why would you do that???

For us to even get to the starting post with HK-J, we have to have a full survey. That's about 1,700 euros. The risk that that investment will be wasted on a capricious insurance provider/system isn't one we're prepared to take while ANY other option is available.

Ian

Lisette & Ian
Catharina Elisabeth

Ian & Lisette McCauley
Boat Register: Catharina Elisabeth
Blog: Eurmacs
Website: WaterwaysTourist
"There are only 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't."

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  • Don Chesnut
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26 Oct 2023 16:39 #16 by Don Chesnut
Replied by Don Chesnut on topic Barge Insurance in the Netherlands for American
After this, I really am done.

All correspondance has been with "hello@havenkj.eu", address according to the email Lismard Court, Portlaoise, Co Laois, Ireland.

According to my Certificate of Insurance, the current policy is held by MS Amlin Insurance SE.

D

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  • Mike Gibbons
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26 Oct 2023 16:29 #17 by Mike Gibbons
Replied by Mike Gibbons on topic Barge Insurance in the Netherlands for American
Don

Call me naive if you like but DBA has a decent relationship with HK-J, used to have a good relationship with GJW before their buyout and a number of us have good relationships with the likes of Euromarine and others.

I'm sorry you've been caught by the fallout from Brexit but then so have all the insurers and they are trying their hardest to find a way through it. I am no insurer, just a punter like you and probably all members, but as I said, my insurer pulled out this year. Several have amalgamated or been assimilated to try and get some traction and some, especially the owners of HK-J have gone to some lengths to help.

AIUI, and this is my take on it but we've been told this in public and other meetings and all members were able to see it a year ago on the HK-J webinar done especially for DBA members, when it was clear that HK-J couldn't insure all their clients because of the change of rules, their owners went to the cost and trouble to set up a European subsidiary in Ireland (so in the EU) through Aston Lark which is part of the group and, I think, the superior owner, and all non-UK requests are channelled to them. 

Your reply starts to make it clear that you were (I'd assume correctly) in discussion with Aston Lark in Ireland and not HK-J which is in the UK and, as far as I am aware, does not trade outside it contrary to your note below. The reply you have also shows that they are still negotiating the 2024 terms and giving you warning, albeit not enough.

As for your 'rant' - Brexit is not rectifiable........HK-J can't unilaterally change the terms of insurance worldwide to offer to residents of another state or country without a legal agreement which, presumably, your state hasn't agreed....it's nothing to do with loyalty or history.......

And yes, a broker is what you want. Or advice from some of the American residents on here who have successfully found insurance after encountering this problem.

Good luck!

Mike

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  • Don Chesnut
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26 Oct 2023 16:11 #18 by Don Chesnut
Replied by Don Chesnut on topic Barge Insurance in the Netherlands for American
[Of course I expect an honest answer.] 

How naive.

I must point out that HKJ 's address is Ireland, though affiliated or subsidiary of the UK brand, EU and not UK, the reason for my being with them in the first place. My being booted from GJW was, according to them, Brexit related. HKJ's email to me made no reference to Brexit.

The entirety of the reply from HKJ regarding my inquiry-

"Good afternoon Mr Chestnut,
 
Thank you for your email.
 
We are in the process of negotiating our 2024 binder with the insurer, however they have indicated that we will not have authority to insure US residents from the 1st of January. We will of course formally advise you in advance of your renewal date but as it stands this does, unfortunately, look to be the case and therefore we will not be able to provide renewal terms.
 
I apologise that this is likely not the answer you had hoped for."

<rant> "They all do it" is a lousy excuse. Did HKJ make any effort to rectify this problem? Did they care? Frankly I'm just sick and tired of being jerked around by insurance companies who are more than happy to take our money and then drop us with little or no explanation, regardless of our history or consequences, leaving us twisting in the wind.</rant>

I'll find a broker who works on my behalf and places my cover wherever they can. I am now officially done with this subject. Off to take my blood pressure pills.

D
 

 

 

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  • Mike Gibbons
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26 Oct 2023 15:28 #19 by Mike Gibbons
Replied by Mike Gibbons on topic Barge Insurance in the Netherlands for American
Of course I expect an honest answer. 

UK insurers have been clear for some time since Brexit that it was a problem for many depending on which state USA residents live in, as you will have seen on the Forum, on webinars, in Blue Flag and AGM reports. Without asking, we can't be sure when this blanket exclusion camein nor why. 

As I said, the question of when this happened and the lack of warning is possibly an issue. On behalf of everyone, and just for information, we can ask if you want us to do that? It'll only be Haven Knox-Johnston but it might give some clarity.

And likewise we can ask for an update on Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere if that's wanted.

Oh, by the way, Navigators & General dropped us this year after a decade insuring our boat. Making Music's insurers (in another field) has just dumped all their clients. That is thousands of groups and hundreds of thousands of musicians........ It's just how it is at the moment IMHO.

Mike Gibbons

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  • Don Chesnut
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26 Oct 2023 14:11 #20 by Don Chesnut
Replied by Don Chesnut on topic Barge Insurance in the Netherlands for American
And you expect an honest answer? “ Yes, you’ll be good for a couple of years but then we’ll drop you because of some mumble, mumble, mumble no warning.”
Sorry. Doesn’t work for me and I frankly don’t trust any UK insurer after my treatment in the past. I don’t think any non-UK barge owner should either.

D

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