How are you paid in the event of a loss?
When discussing how you are paid, you need to distinguish between a total loss and a partial loss. Most of us are concerned how the boat insurance policy responds in the event of a total loss. The likelihood of a total loss is much less than a partial loss; therefore it is important to understand how the policy pays for both.
There are three different types of boat insurance policies — agreed value, actual cash value and replacement cost. One of these three could be paid in the event of a total loss. In the event of a partial loss, you will need to know if the policy is paying replacement cost or depreciated value.
Agreed Value is easy. You and the insurance company agree on the value of the boat before the loss. Using our example, you would be paid $40,000. If the current value of the boat at the time of the loss is $20,000 or $55,000, you would be paid $40,000, the Agreed Value of the boat.
Actual Cash Value
Actual Cash Value is the value of the boat at the time of the loss. A boat insurance company will pay the insured value or the Actual Cash Value of the boat at the time of the loss, whichever is lower. In our example, if the Actual Cash Value of the boat is $25,000, this is the most you will be paid. If the Actual Cash Value is $55,000, then you would be paid the insured value of $40,000. The Actual Cash Value is determined by the insurance company from sources such as a used boat price guide and other boats listed for sale.
The newest option is Replacement Cost. A Replacement Cost policy agrees to replace your boat with a new boat. You are required to purchase this coverage when the vessel is new and the coverage is only available until the vessel is two or three years old. Our $40,000 three year old boat has a Replacement Cost new today of $45,000. The Replacement Cost policy would pay $45,000 for a new boat. Some policies may specifically state they will pay a percentage over the amount the vessel is insured for, 20% for example. Once the boat reaches the age where replacement cost is no longer available, the policy form will be changed to Agreed Value or Actual Cash Value.