When extreme racers strap themselves to an engine… in a million-dollar powerboat… that propels them to speeds of up to 200 mph; there are a lot of things than can go wrong. Making a good run down the race course means overcoming wind and water conditions, driver error and countless other potential mechanical malfunctions. There is also risk involved while practicing, traveling to and from the race course, and even while the boat is in storage. Who can go-fast boaters call for insurance coverage… just in case?

According to Dennis Onstott with EP Marine Insurance in Houston, Texas, in some situations they are simply out of luck. Due to the high risk factors in racing, race boats are uninsurable while they are going down the racetrack. “We do offer transient and storage insurance for race boats but once the boat hits the water they are uninsured,” Onstott said.

Off the racecourse, however, most go-fast boaters do have options, says Farmers Insurance agent Christopher Wagner. The cost is dependent, among other things, on speed. The faster they go, the higher the premium.

When Wagner started his agency in 2008, the performance boating market is something he knew he wanted to be part of.

Before moving to the Lake of the Ozarks and starting Wagner Insurance Agency LLC, Wagner was involved with many poker runs across the country. He has always had a love for speed, as he used to race Motocross and Snocross on a national level. After all that racing in the dirt and snow, poker runs were a natural fit.

As Wagner entered into the performance boat insurance world, he found that most companies, including Foremost (Farmers Insurance Group Owned Company where boats and other specialty products are underwritten), had very limited coverage for performance boats.

Two years ago Foremost expanded their underwriting criteria and Wagner at the same time contracted with five other carriers to develop what is now WIA Marine insurance. He traveled to the Foremost Insurance headquarters in Michigan (and held conference calls with the other companies) and sat down at the table with their head of management to start the conversation about where the powerboating industry was headed. He explained what performance boating customers were looking for in powerboat insurance. “There are misconceptions floating around that all powerboat owners run on the ragged edge,” Wagner told them. “But, the truth is most high performance boat owners are very conscientious about their boats, how they take care of their boats and how they drive them.”

WIA Marine Insurance has since developed a customized insurance program that will fit the needs of the high performance boating community. The Wagner Insurance Agency now can offer many different types of high performance boat programs that will cover boats that run up to 178 MPH, $3 million-plus values, and $1 million liability coverage. Most are covered using an agreed value policy, which means if the boat at the time of a loss is valued at $300,000, insurance will pay the total loss of $300,000.

The cost to cover a high performance boat in a Poker Run varies depending on speed. A $500,000 boat that runs 90 mph will cost less than a boat that runs 130 mph. Once the speed gets up over 130 mph the costs can jump significantly.

According to Patrick Mell, Executive Director of the American Power Boat Association, the APBA will insure a race boat during a racing event in the permitted area. The insurance does not cover the boat itself, but it does cover participants and spectators. The cost depends again on the type and risk of the boat. Mell said that racers can purchase a secondary insurance policy that will cover liability while practicing as well as theft.

WIA Marine Insurance is currently licensed in nine states, with the ability to add more upon request. They cover boats at the Lake of the Ozarks, on the Great Lakes, both coasts and in Florida Poker Runs. WIA can even cover a boat that runs in Bahama and Mexico waters.

Besides performance boats, WIA Marine covers yachts, cruisers, tritoons, center consoles and wakeboard boats. WIA Marine also has programs that will cover watersports liability for towing a skier, wakeboarder, or someone tubing.

Wagner advises high performance boat owners to be sure they have the right insurance for their unique needs and to be sure a boat is insured for its current market value. He also emphasizes boaters need to be sure they know exactly what is covered, the per-person liability amount, deductible, valuation, layup period, navigation, protective devices, operator experience, prior boat ownership, and driver safety course certification — all of those can come into play when insuring a performance boat. He advised that it is highly important to compare coverages: just because it is cheap, that doesn’t mean it’s best.

by Janet Dabbs, http://lakeexpo.com/news/lake_news/i...614b23bf4.html