Safeco Debuts National Boat Claims Center

August 5, 2004

With boating season in full swing, Seattle-based Safeco announced the launch of a new specialized claims unit dedicated to handling boaters’ insurance claims.

The National Boat Unit, located in Spokane, Wash., is staffed by boating enthusiasts and marine experts who handle physical damage insurance claims for boats and other watercraft. Representatives are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“We realize it can be difficult for claims professionals working primarily on auto or home claims to excel in boat coverages, liability, and damages if they see just one or two watercraft claims a year,” Jennifer Lamb, National Boat Unit claims manager, said.

“For our National Boat Unit, we’ve brought together a team of people experienced in boating and marina work, and we’ve tasked them with handling all our boat claims. Customers benefit from expert counsel and more efficient service.”

Fiberglass, fish finders and buoys

Safeco expects the specialized unit to improve efficiencies because boat claims must be handled differently than typical auto losses.

The biggest difference is that boat claims usually center around mechanical problems, while auto claims predominantly involve body damage. The materials are reportedly not the same, and neither are their repairs. Boat claims professionals develop expert knowledge in fiberglass hulls, fish finders and buoys, as well as their mechanics. Claims professionals must also be well-versed in the U.S. Coast Guard’s navigation rules to determine liability when collisions occur.

In a typical day, boat unit examiners reportedly help arrange customers’ repairs, negotiate with marinas holding insured boats, and work with experts to assess coverage. In cases where damage is severe or unusual—say a $150,000 yacht that’s been submerged—Safeco has established a network of marine surveyors skilled in the intricacies of boat building and repair.

“This expertise allows us to quickly assess which damages are due to normal wear and tear and which are due to covered loss events, leaving customers with a result that’s fast, fair and friendly,” Lamb said. “Our goal is to make the experience of buying, owning and using watercraft insurance easier than anyone else.”

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