Whether you are a sole seasonal operator or you own a fleet of boats and maintain a rather thriving operation year round, you need a detailed guide to fishermen insurance. Given all the risks and exposures you face in the course of your job – everything from drowning and getting hurt by your own equipment to sending contaminated fish to market and getting sued for making someone sick – you want to protect yourself from serious exposure. At the same time, you also don't want to pay exorbitant premiums for things like fishing boat insurance. Frankly, you don't have a major operating budget, and you need to keep costs under control as much as possible.
Fishermen Insurance 101
What coverage do you need? One basic kind of coverage is liability. If you cause bodily injury or property damage, liability insurance will step in and help pay for things like people's medical bills and their wages lost as well as the cost to repair broken property. You should also insure your "tools of the trade." Fishing boat insurance will pay for damage to your vessel as well as certain named assets (e.g. poles, refrigerators, computers and GPS navigation systems, etc).
If you work with a crew of four or more people, you will need workers' compensation insurance. For instance, say one of your deckhands accidentally gaffs himself while you sail through choppy waters – without insurance, you must pay for his medical bills and lost wages out of pocket. (Note: workers' comp insurance may be mandatory, depending on the size and nature of your small business.)
You also need to insure yourself against damages from the products you sell. If the fish you catch and prepare gets contaminated somehow, and someone gets sick from eating the fish — or a marketer or a distributor loses money by doing business with you — you could face a serious legal headache if you lack coverage.
In addition to fishing boat insurance, you should cover any other vehicles that you use, such as trucks to haul your product to market. Finally, be aware of any legal insurance requirements as well as "best practices" for your industry. An agent who has experience helping fishermen can explain what coverages to get and what policies to avoid or pare down.
A Long-Term Fishermen Insurance Solution
Every season, your risk sensitivities will change. You add new crew, you change equipment, you borrow a friend's boat for a season, and so on. As your business dynamically changes, your insurance needs also shift. If you make a claim, for instance, this impacts your rates. If you go several seasons without making a claim, this may allow you to jump on a low claim discount which can save you a bundle. So as annoying as it is to wrangle with your fishermen insurance policy, make it a priority to analyze your fishing boat insurance coverage on a regular basis (at least once a season). You want to pay just as much as you should pay – but no more than that.
For help collecting and analyzing quotes, turn to NetQuote, a free online service that's helped thousands of small business owners like you. Get 5 + fishermen insurance quotes today by filling out our simple and fast online quote form.
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