The Harbor Report: A chat with a yacht insurer

Jennifer and I had our good friends Julie and Craig Chamberlain over for a barbecue the other night. The four of us started to talk about Newport Harbor politics, building permits and the cost of living.

Though Julie and I go back to second grade, Craig and I met on the racecourse. He is the best offshore sailor I know, and he worked with his father, Byron Chamberlain, at Mariners General Insurance Group, a yacht insurance firm, while I was starting my yacht broker career.

Craig and I quickly became good friends, and I have been sending my clients to Craig for more than 22 years now. I've never received a complaint about Craig's service to his clients. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to ask Craig questions about our yacht insurance policies and views around town.

Q: How often should a boat owner contact you to review their policy?

A: Typically once a year to discuss hull coverage limits, changes in navigation requirements, any changes in their personal situation that might require a different liability coverage amount.

Q: Mariners General offers a number of types of yacht insurance and I proceeded to ask what these types are. What is cargo insurance?

A: Transportation coverage while aboard a ship, barges or truck. Yacht policies normally exclude coverage while the vessel is being commercially transported, so a separate policy or endorsement is required.

Q: What is commercial insurance? Yacht policies include a "private pleasure warranty." If a yacht is used to charter, fish commercially or the vessel owner receives any remuneration for the use of his yacht, then additional coverage needs to be purchased to cover that commercial activity. I know you have spent a lot of time in Mexico. What does Mariners General provide that other insurance companies do not, in Mexico?

A: We created two Mexico corporations to write Mexico-domiciled risks, such as homes, autos, businesses, HOAs, medical insurance and Mexican registered vessels. Our programs were designed specifically for Americans and Canadians traveling to, or living full time, in Mexico. It has been an exciting and rewarding experience adapting our business principles to the Mexican culture and creating something new in the marketplace.

Q: What local harbor issues concern you?

A: We are not taking advantage of our incredible harbor. Why not finally build the waterfront boardwalk between the Arches and Ardell? Add an additional pedestrian bridge across PCH at Riverside? Allow more mixed-use development along PCH like you see in most cities around the world? I view Mariner's Mile as the gateway to our city. It should be our calling card, welcoming visitors to town. Increasing the number of restaurants and shops, with marine businesses sprinkled in and having access to other areas of the harbor through the use of water taxis, would all contribute to a high quality experience for visitors. We can accomplish these things, but it will take a very focused and pragmatic effort by citizens speaking through a common voice with very defined objectives to get the City Council to act.

Sea Ya.

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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