Monthly Archives: January 2010

Chartering the waters of the Pacific NorthwestRe: Chartering the waters of the Pacific Northwest

There are several reasons people may contemplate chartering their boats in the greater Seattle and Tacoma area, and the most common is to “help cover the expenses.” It sounds like a good idea, but there are many factors to consider.

There are two common types of charters that one can do with a pleasure vessel. First is the “bare boat charter,” where someone pays you money and then drives off with your boat for a day, a week, or longer. These charters are usually handled through a commercial charter company that manages a fleet of charter boats and does the guest check-outs and check-ins. They also handle the vessel insurance on a “fleet” basis, meaning that you must buy into their insurance program.

The second and most common charter is the “skippered charter,” in which you, the boat owner, take people out for a day, a week, or longer. You are the captain, your partner or spouse is the cook, or maybe it’s the other way around.  Perhaps you perform both functions yourself. You are also required to have a United States Coast Guard captain’s license to take people out “for hire.” You buy the extra charter insurance on your own, from an agency like us that specializes in marine insurance.

Insurance costs do increase for boats that are chartered, since you now have people who are paying you money to take them boating and the insurance policy now has to cover the potential injury and risk of lawsuits from more people, as well as the increased usage of your boat.

As a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain, you are held to a higher standard of knowledge and seamanship. You are legally responsible for the safety of your charter guests, as well as for the maintenance of your vessel. If the boat sinks or burns, a lot of people can be injured, and your insurance policy will pay all the bills up to the limit of liability.

Not all boats are suitable for charter, particularly those smaller boats with gasoline engines or those that are under say 30’ feet in length.

Most boats that do well in charter service are diesel powered, in the 35’-50’ size range, and have several clearly defined staterooms with more than one marine head (toilet) in separate compartments. Privacy is a valued commodity on a charter boat.

The successful charter captain is a competent seaman and navigator, a good story teller, and someone who enjoys spending time getting to know a variety of people in mostly pleasant circumstances, sometimes spiced up a bit with discomfort and sheer terror.

If you have any questions about your current charter or marine insurance, or are interested in getting a quote, please e-mail us or call Homer Smith Insurance directly at 888-433-0031. We are an independent insurance agency serving Washington state, and are also licensed in Oregon, California, Nevada, and Arizona.

Jim Maupin, Homer Smith Insurance

Safeguarding your home during the winter months

It rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest. A lot. This is especially true for the winter months. Because of the damp climate, many residents leave the soggy shores of Puget Sound for the sunny skies of the South West. Homes amongst the foggy evergreens are left behind, sitting vacant for potentially months. These empty homes pose a concern for homeowners—how to protect their home while away.

Many of the basics to safeguarding your home, like a good security system and deadbolt locks, are effective. But they’re not the only way to defend your home. From old-fashioned neighborly kindness to 21st century technology, here are ways to prevent your home from being featured on the nightly news:

·      The first step is simple—don’t advertise you’re leaving. The fewer people know, the less likely word will spread about your impending departure.

·      Ask a trustworthy neighbor to watch your home. Regular checks help deter burglars. Leave a key with your neighbor, not under the welcome mat. Bad idea. So is leaving keys in fake rocks. Many thieves are savvy to this, and will look for the slightly plastic-looking rock.

·      Tell the post office to halt your mail. A full mailbox is a lure to thieves and makes it obvious that nobody’s home.

·      If it snows while you’re away, arrange for someone to shovel or plow your driveway. This gives the impression that someone is regularly coming and going. A friend or neighbor could even leave footprints in walkways to help aid the illusion, or park their car in front of your home.

·      Set inside and outside lights on timers. Lights going on and off during the day and night (especially at irregular intervals) keeps thieves at bay.

·      To really make it seem like someone’s home, radios and TVs can be set on a timer. Any burglar that hears voices in a home will think twice. You can even set up a recording of a dog barking that is triggered by loud noises, like a knock on the door.

If your winter plans involve traveling to a more summer-like clime, call or email Homer Smith Insurance to review your current coverage or to receive a free quote. We have offices in Port Townsend and Sequim, Washington. An independent insurance agency, we are licensed in, and serve, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Arizona.

Erin Stork, Homer Smith Insurance

Maintaining pipe health and you and your home’s well-being

It’s one of many homeowners’ nightmares—frozen pipes. With temperatures plummeting across the country, the Pacific Northwest could be due for its own cold snap. Freezing nights may mean frozen pipes, which themselves are a pain. But it’s when frozen pipes burst that the real headache begins. The water damage can result in costly reconstruction projects, anything from replacing drywall to ceilings (never mind damaged furniture or appliances). Luckily, the basics of frozen pipe prevention are simple even for the inexperienced handyman. Some tools, supplies from the hardware store, and a little dexterity are all you need to help avoid pipes freezing, cracking, or bursting:

·         Know which pipes in your home are most likely to freeze. Pipes along exterior walls, crawlspaces, garages, and basements are especially susceptible, as well as the main water pipe running into your home. And remember, both hot water and cold water pipes can (and do) freeze.

·         Make sure all pipes are properly insulated. This can be managed with pipe insulators or electric heating tape. They help pipes maintain warmth and keep water running through them. Pipes against any exterior walls, as well as the piping where the water supply enters the home, should have extra insulation as they tend to freeze easier and faster.

·         If temperatures plunge, leave faucets on in several areas of your home. Just slightly more than a heavy drip will suffice. It’s harder for pipes to freeze if water flows freely through them, and no part of your home will be cut off from the water supply with the constant stream.

·         When your home loses heat, the risk of pipes freezing rises, so drain water pipes to avert any mishaps. Using the main valve, turn off the home’s water supply and run all faucets and showers until water ceases flowing. The same can be done for pipes feeding exterior water spigots by shutting off the valve supplying outdoor water and opening and draining spigots.

·         Technological devices can be used to monitor your home and its temperature. Freeze alarms and temperature monitors are programmable to phone you if power goes out in your home or the temperature falls below freezing. If you’re away from home for a period of time, this can be a great option.

·         Another more intricate device, RedyTemp uses an adjustable temperature control to regularly circulate water through pipes to prevent freezing. You adjust the temperature dial—which ranges from 45°F-115°F—to suit the freeze threat conditions.

Though these ideas are excellent preventative measures, we can’t prepare for everything. At Homer Smith Insurance, we want to help with whatever life throws your way, frozen pipes and all. To review your current coverage, or to receive a free quote, visit our website, email, or call us directly at 888-433-0031. We are an independent insurance agency licensed in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and Arizona.

Erin Stork, Homer Smith Insurance