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dazautomatics
regular


Reged: 12/05/2006
Posts: 34
Loc: North East, England
Desperately searching for answers
      #1283873 - 18/12/2006 23:06

Hi all

Can anyone give advice on our dilemma? Apologies for the long description but please bear with us.

Whilst on a 2 year passage to New Zealand, we had to abandon our boat Sentito (a Seeker 31), 45 Miles off Finisterre on the 2nd of November. She was spotted adrift and salvaged by the Spanish maritime authority 18 days later and we drove back to northern Spain to take possession, until our insurers found out that the salvage cost were considerably higher than the insured value of the boat. At this point they decided, like insurance companyís do, that they would abandon the boat and get out of paying us on a technicality.

We decided to come straight back to the UK to fight the insurance resigned to the fact that sadly we would probably not see our boat again.After getting a good marine solicitor we settled down for an unpleasant battle with the insurers

Today my wife received a call from the insurance company after three weeks of complete silence explaining that they had negotiated with the Spanish and lowered the salvage fee and the money would clear in a few days. Then after repeating that they were not accepting liability they dropped the bomb that we were now on our own and needed to make arrangements to remove Sentito from the pier ourselves as soon as possible.

Great you might think but our boat is not worth much and has sustained a lot of damage including rudder failure. The port she was brought into has no facilities and she could have sustained more damaged on the unsheltered wall she has been moored to for the last month.

It cost us about 1000 pounds to drive down to the boat last time and we canít afford to do it again to find the boat had sustained more damage. We are unsure of the cost of transportation to the UK but would estimate around 5/6K and we have the added complication of language difficulties we had already experienced in the far west of northern Spain. We are concerned that any more money we need to spend on the boats recovery would not be covered by the insurance even if we were successful in our claim and we are at this time trying to salvage what little money we have left. Plus itís a week before Christmas, which is not helping matters.

We both love the boat very much and although we wonít be ocean sailing in Sentito after our experiences in 60 knots of wind, we would like to repair her and see her go to a good home.

If anyone has had experience of boat repair / transport from this part of the world or has any advice on dealing with insurance we would love to hear. Any sensitive information please contact me at sentito@hotmail.co.uk

Many thanks for your time and patience
Darren & Vicki


 
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jonic
regular


Reged: 12/03/2002
Posts: 484
Loc: south coast/ London, now on ci...
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: dazautomatics]
      #1283916 - 18/12/2006 23:46

Dear Darren and Vicki

Very sorry to hear this. I had a long battle with insurers two years ago and may be able to give some general advice. (probably off the forum)Who is the broker and underwriter?

--------------------
www.theyachtmoonshine.com/Yachtbrokerage.html
specialising in Dufour yachts and long distance cruisers


 
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Richard_Faulkner_M44
regular


Reged: 17/03/2006
Posts: 1393
Loc: Manchester/Lagos, Algarve
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: dazautomatics]
      #1283953 - 19/12/2006 00:21

Darren and Vicki,

I think we heard your situation reported here. An awful thing to happen in the first place, and to then be let down by your insurers is catastrophic.

In 1999, ran my fathers bakery and one of the bakers got water in the elctrics of the oven such that it was a write off. I spoke to my solicitor before contacting the insurers and he advised me to employ a loss assessor, (I think that's what he was... I think the insured use assessors, and the insurers use adjusters).

The assessors first piece of advice was that we were not to discuss any element of the matter with the insurance company and that we were to refer them to him. he also said that they would get extremely angry, suggest that we didnt need an assessor, and press us to talk to them.

he was right... you could tell that they knew they were going to get away with nothing as soon as we referred them to the assessor, and they didnt!

So... I am assuming that there are assessors who specialise in marine insurance and I guess I am suggesting that you get hold of one. Assuming they exist, (and shipowners will make sure that there is a market), I am surprised that your lawyer hasnt suggested this.

Having said that, my experience of many lawyers is that they will continue to flog a dead horse for as long as their clients will pay them.... you would never be able to say that their advice was wrong or bad but, in practical terms, what they were doing was a waste of time and money.... If I have ever had a serious legal matter, i have always instructed my lawyer to get a barristers opinion on the situation sooner, rather than later. barristers tend to cut to the quick, tell it like it is, and give you the options.

Pointing you at an assessor or a barrister probably loses you as a client fairly quickly... I hope I'm wrong here.

Did your policy say anything about times of the year when you couldnt cross Biscay, or how many crew had to be on board?

I would be interested to know what the technicality was that they said meant they didnt have to pay you when they decided to abandon the boat in Spain.

I would also be interested to know why they had continued to negotiate with the Spanish over the salvage.... as I see it, they had nothing to gain - they had abandoned the boat and were paying you nothing, so no cost to them.

Negotiating the salvage fees down and agreeing to pay them will cost them money.... so they must have been forced into this situation for some reason.

and... having admitted liability for the salvage, how can they not admit liability for sorting the boat out for you.... I would have thought that they are liable for all or nothing.

I think we would all be interested to know who the insurers are as i want to know that, in a similar situation, my insurance company arent going to refuse to cough up.

That's my 2 pennorth.. get an assessor and, if appropriate, a barristers opinion.

Cheers

Richard

--------------------
Rogue - Moody 44


 
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bajansailor
regular


Reged: 27/12/2004
Posts: 267
Loc: Barbados (East coast)
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: Richard_Faulkner_M44]
      #1284005 - 19/12/2006 03:04

That is very sound (IMHO) advice Richard!

I have had some experience here of dealing with insurance companies around the world re submitting marine cargo claims, and although there are some exemplary companies who are very fair and reasonable, there does appear to be many others who will try to find any loophole or technicality to avoid paying out on the claim.

Sentitos, it does sound like you have a good case in your favour, especially if you follow Richard's advice.

Good luck!


 
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Richard_Faulkner_M44
regular


Reged: 17/03/2006
Posts: 1393
Loc: Manchester/Lagos, Algarve
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: bajansailor]
      #1284008 - 19/12/2006 03:21

martin,

How would they go about finding an assessor, (if I am using the right term)? I'm sure I did a search for one a while ag and could find one, (cant recall why I was looking.

--------------------
Rogue - Moody 44


 
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bajansailor
regular


Reged: 27/12/2004
Posts: 267
Loc: Barbados (East coast)
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: Richard_Faulkner_M44]
      #1284015 - 19/12/2006 03:33

Hello Richard - I just did a google, and found the info below on an Insurance Assessor's website. The first section is a useful description of assessors and adjusters, while also pointing out their differences.

XXXXXX are Insurance Loss Assessors with over fifteen years experience working on behalf of the general public. XXXXXX are not loss adjusters who protect the Insurance company's interests; instead we represent the policyholder.

Without XXXXXX you are left at the mercy of the Insurance Loss Adjusters. Loss Adjusters are appointed to protect the insurance company's interests, and minimise the amount paid on the insurance claim. Their fee is paid by the insurance company and they report to them. Typically, a loss adjuster will aim to reduce the claim by 20%. Whereas an Assessor is committed to maximising the settlement due to the Claimant.

Here is a website for one Assessor I found on a random search - http://www.assistedclaims.co.uk/
Please note that I have no connection with these folk whatsoever.


 
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Richard_Faulkner_M44
regular


Reged: 17/03/2006
Posts: 1393
Loc: Manchester/Lagos, Algarve
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: bajansailor]
      #1284017 - 19/12/2006 03:37

Brilliant.... I must be useless at Googling.

Hopefully Darren and Vicki will wake up feeling a bit more positive, and able to take a bit of control back.

--------------------
Rogue - Moody 44


 
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ironmaiden
regular


Reged: 19/08/2005
Posts: 43
 
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: Richard_Faulkner_M44]
      #1284041 - 19/12/2006 07:24

Hi Darren & Vicky
It's sad to hear that you have to go through all this cr*p.
When you take out insurance you do it for the sole reason to protect yourself should the unfortunate happen, as it did in your case. this just goes to enforce my opinion that EVERY insurance company is little more then approved and licesned swindlers.

You put your faith and hard earned cash into them only to be totaly and utterly let down, I not only hope that you win your case against them but from this episode they loose as much business as possible, if we the puplic were to con monies from people on this scale we would be prosecuted and imprisoned.

Good luck and I wish you all the best.


 
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Smiffy100
regular


Reged: 24/09/2006
Posts: 787
 
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: ironmaiden]
      #1284043 - 19/12/2006 07:29

I dunno if I go along with "EVERY".................but some it seems almost certainly.

 
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Hitrapia
regular


Reged: 20/03/2002
Posts: 164
Loc: Malta for the winter
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: Smiffy100]
      #1284080 - 19/12/2006 08:39

I'm really sorry to hear your news - after your trials in Biscay you shouldn't have to deal with this bull***t.

May I ask who the broker/insurer is - I think a number of people on this forum would like to know?

best wishes

Wayne

--------------------
SV Hitrapia - Warrior 35


 
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Allan
regular


Reged: 17/03/2004
Posts: 155
Loc: Bristol
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: Smiffy100]
      #1284082 - 19/12/2006 08:41

I can't believe that I have started typing on here defending insurance companies! Smiffy I agree, I have heard lots companies trying to get out of paying loads of claims but not all. I recently suffered a robbery at home and the insurance company (Tesco) have been great! They have sorted things out without quibbling and have been helpfull and polite.
Allan
PS. I have named Tesco because of their actions, I would also have named them if they had been bad. Let's name and shame these bad businesses!

--------------------
My Etap22i is up for sale.


 
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Guapa
regular


Reged: 24/09/2003
Posts: 2050
Loc: Me: St Albans - Guapa: Levingt...
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: dazautomatics]
      #1284110 - 19/12/2006 09:01

Very sorry to hear about your loss. There, but for the Grace of God...

However, you can't get emotional about this now.
Boat's a write-off - get the insured value of the insurance and walk away.
Everything else will turn out to be throwing good money after bad. Time to let go.

--------------------
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing ... Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure to it.
Helen Keller (1880-1968)


 
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Smiffy100
regular


Reged: 24/09/2006
Posts: 787
 
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: Allan]
      #1284116 - 19/12/2006 09:02

By all means name and shame, but with substantiated facts, and while we are at it, why not give pats on the back to gooduns?...........................

 
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dazautomatics
regular


Reged: 12/05/2006
Posts: 34
Loc: North East, England
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: Smiffy100]
      #1284269 - 19/12/2006 11:08

Thank you all for taking time to post on our dilemma, to answer your questions we had an exclusion on the policy that we had to be across Biscay on the 1st of November and to all intents and purposes we were.
Having turned away from La Coruna in force 8/9 winds when in sight of land as the conditions were deteriorating rapidly as we were entering shallow water, the seas were breaking violently. We made a decision to head for Bayona and unfortunately had to abandon to the boat 18 hours later 45 miles to sea of cape Finisterre after sustaining damage, hove to beam on to 60kn winds and sea that I can only describe as occasionally twice the height of the mast.
We contacted our insurance company as soon as we were dropped off in La Coruna by the search and rescue and they arranged a loss adjuster to come the hotel to take a statement.
Up till the boat being salvaged 18 days later the insurance company gave no indications of breach of warranty and were expected to pay.
It was only when the large salvage fee was mentioned that things changed.
After talking to the solicitor last night that we learnt that it is common practice for the insurance to settle things like salvage or impounding of a boat without prejudice as if they are found liable later they would incur further costs.
We canít disclose the insurance company at this moment as this could damage our claim but I understand were you guys are coming from and we are documenting the event to allow us to respond to the yachting press with a story to allow this company to be seen for all they are. They have already approached us with a view to printing our experience.
Our solicitor will not accept instruction from us and has recommended we use the legal cover on our house insurance, as the funds available are considerably higher than the value of the boat. In her opinion this can change the decision of the insurance company in as little as a few letters. As of yet the house insurance havenít come back with a decision and we have to wait regardless of pressure for them to take on the case.

Please keep posting with any help and advice you may have.
Many thanks for the support
Darren & Vicki


 
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chrisc
regular


Reged: 11/07/2001
Posts: 629
Loc: SWEDEN and working again UGH.....
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: dazautomatics]
      #1284330 - 19/12/2006 12:04

Is there no one on this Forum suituated in the n of spain who could go and look and see what condition the boat is in?

 
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dazautomatics
regular


Reged: 12/05/2006
Posts: 34
Loc: North East, England
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: chrisc]
      #1284527 - 19/12/2006 14:03

If there is Chris, that would help. When we last saw the boat she had suffered a lot of damage to the stantions, pulpit and pushpit from the salvage on top of the damage from the storm.
As far as we are aware she is still moored against the commercial pier in Cee (a small village next to Corcubion)
The link I have added to Multimap shows the pier in the bottom righthand corner below the AC-550 sign.

Map link

It would be great if we could find out if any more damage has been done to the boat. Whilst we were there the boat was surging approx 20 feet against a sheer muscle incrusted pier wall.


 
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jonic
regular


Reged: 12/03/2002
Posts: 484
Loc: south coast/ London, now on ci...
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: dazautomatics]
      #1284538 - 19/12/2006 14:09

Have sent you a PM.

If you need a good surveyor to counter the damage report, I can highly recommend Jim Pritchard. He did mine and it saved me a fortune.

--------------------
www.theyachtmoonshine.com/Yachtbrokerage.html
specialising in Dufour yachts and long distance cruisers


 
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Richard_Faulkner_M44
regular


Reged: 17/03/2006
Posts: 1393
Loc: Manchester/Lagos, Algarve
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: dazautomatics]
      #1284593 - 19/12/2006 14:54

 
Quote:

we had an exclusion on the policy that we had to be across Biscay on the 1st of November and to all intents and purposes we were.
Having turned away from La Coruna in force 8/9 winds when in sight of land as the conditions were deteriorating rapidly as we were entering shallow water, the seas were breaking violently.

Our solicitor will not accept instruction from us and has recommended we use the legal cover on our house insurance, as the funds available are considerably higher than the value of the boat. In her opinion this can change the decision of the insurance company in as little as a few letters.

 


This begs the question.... at what point are we "across Biscay". e.g. if you had chosen to winter in Coruna, or wherever, and went out for a daysail to the point where you made your decision, would we be "across Biscay"?

I would imagine there will be a precedent for this somewhere, and it may be worth searching it out... independently of the lawyer, (maybe with the help of an assessor specialising in marine insurance).

Presumably the solicitor wont accept instructions because you/she are not sure whether you can pay their bill, (whatever it is). She seems to be suggesting that the insurance company are relying on this and, as soon as you have the funds to proceed, the insurance company would back down and pay up... in the knowledge that the law will find in your favour.

The following could be a risky strategy, but my thought are that it doesnt matter whether the funds come from your house insurance, or a friendly sponsor.

In which case, you could look at refinancing the house to pay the legal charges.... perhaps with the intention of only proceeding as far as the "few letters"... if you see what I mean.

If anything can be of a help to you, it seems like the accepted insurance definition of "across Biscay" would be a good start.

Cheers

Richard

--------------------
Rogue - Moody 44


 
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chrisc
regular


Reged: 11/07/2001
Posts: 629
Loc: SWEDEN and working again UGH.....
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: dazautomatics]
      #1284645 - 19/12/2006 15:31

Put a message on the Reader to reader forum and ask for anyone near that port (what port is it?)You get a lot more readers there.(and hopefully some help)

 
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TigaWave
regular


Reged: 17/12/2004
Posts: 1043
Loc: Buckland Monachorum
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: dazautomatics]
      #1284797 - 19/12/2006 16:56

I agree with Richard,

First step is to find out what was their definition to you before you left as to "across Biscay"

I had an Insurance claim turned down under similar circumstances in that I had not informed the insurance company of my safe arrival in Europe.

I had informed them of arrival in The Azores, but they didn't consider this Europe. I was not insured after an incident in the North of Spain a few weeks later, despite the fact that I was still paying increased premiums (Direct debit) having had insurance for the Caribbean.

They claimed that to start the European cover I had to inform them of my safe arrival in a European port.

I wish you luck, but feel that they will have required your arrival in a port and a statement of yacht condition at that time to move on to the next leg, which would be covered, ie Coastal Europe.

--------------------
http://www.h4marine.com/


 
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Swagman
regular


Reged: 01/02/2005
Posts: 883
Loc: Self - Hampshire UK: Yacht - T...
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: TigaWave]
      #1284854 - 19/12/2006 17:27

Echo everyones sentiments. Have reposted a message on Cruiser Log and Cruisers Forum also asking is anyone is close to Cee and prepared to pop along and give you feedback. Have posted your email address and trust that's OK.
JOHN

--------------------
Boring cruising blog at www.yotblog.com/Swagman


 
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dazautomatics
regular


Reged: 12/05/2006
Posts: 34
Loc: North East, England
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: Swagman]
      #1285912 - 20/12/2006 13:00

Thanks for the repsonse all

The insurance company have so far declined to cover us as they have stipulated that there cover excluded biscay crossings between 1st November and 31st March. Their argument is that we did not touch land in La Coruna and technically were still on passage through Biscay.

Thanks for the response. So far we have a contact in Vigo who may be able to do repairs etc and I have head from a nice chap who has offered to drive down from Coruna to check the boat for further damage.

We are interested in anyone else who has dealt with poor insurers and would be very interested to here how you dealt with them?

Once again thanks for the interest and I will, as soon as I get legal advice, be naming and shaming the parties involved.

Our hope it to keep the interest in the post up so we have a significant number of people understanding the pitfalls of marine insurance and that glossy advertisements in the yachting press do not amount to good service. Hopefully we can prevent a few people experiencing our nightmare.

Darren & Vicki


 
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absit_omen
regular


Reged: 28/01/2004
Posts: 595
Loc: Portugal & Med. Wintering in L...
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: dazautomatics]
      #1286768 - 21/12/2006 00:05

My heart really goes out to you. It is, indeed, a nightmare.

However, I reget that I think you are on to a loser. There is really nothing technical about what the insurers are saying. So far, the facts seem to be that the icident occurred beyond their deadline and you were still on passage. They drew the line and you were very, very unfortunate to have been forced into crossing it.

I would be amazed if they back down - whatever pressure you put on them. I think you need some expert legal advice.

Sorry.


 
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Richard_Faulkner_M44
regular


Reged: 17/03/2006
Posts: 1393
Loc: Manchester/Lagos, Algarve
Re: Desperately searching for answers [Re: absit_omen]
      #1286787 - 21/12/2006 00:20

I guess the hope is that one of 2 things could be decided:

1) once you are within a certain distance of a Port on the destination side of Biscay, you are deemed to have "crossed".

2) I am assuming that it would be accepted that they would have arrived in Coruna by the deadline, had they carried on... but by carrying on they would have endangered the vessel and their lives, so the decision to divert, and therefore not cross Biscay by the deadline, would be deemed to be prudent under the circumstances, and covered by some form of Force Majeure in the insureds' favour...... notwithstanding that the vessel was subsequently lost.

Again, I cant believe that this sort of situation hasnt arisen previously, and been tested in the Courts. Barring the rule which says that the facts are somewhat different to the precedents, (is it res ipsa loquitar? was it a case with a yellow Rolls Royce? cant remember), there should be some cases which provide an answer, one way or another.

I was half expecting there to be one, or more, legal bods here who might be able to trawl through some case searching database, and find something... we'll see.

--------------------
Rogue - Moody 44


 
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