Saturday, February 9, 2008

Go Fast, and prosper...

So, I was talking with one of my west coast compadres, who recently raised a 38' Go Fast that was sunk at the dock. He charged a premium rate to raise the boat, and the insurance company complained that his price was more than they were used to paying.

The owner of this boat claims he was doing 105 mile/hr the day before (that is why they're called "go fast", right?), and perhaps that is why there is some huge open gash in the hull?

Some of you may know that I am also a licensed Private Pilot. I am licensed to fly "Single Engine Land" and I hold a High Performance rating. In pilot speak that means I am licensed to fly something just barely faster than a turtle with wings, something akin to a Cessna 182, rated at 235hp. Even if I get thousands of hours of experience in that type of aircraft, there is no way that I can fly a twin-engine aircraft, a retractable gear aircraft, or even a single jet engine aircraft with fixed gear, until I get some further training.

If I win the lottery next week and go buy myself a Lear Jet, I can get an FAA Lear Jet rating in about a week (pretty scary, huh?) That would be according to the FAA. However, I will probably have to log about 300-500 hours flight time in an actual Lear Jet accompanied by a Certified Flight Instructor (qualified in a Lear Jet) before any insurance company will insure me to fly that aircraft by myself. In the world of aircraft risk management, insurance companies are notoriously gun-shy. The difference between 180hp and 300hp is huge, and that leap alone could take months of training. When you start talking propeller verse jet, you are talking leaps and bounds of training and actual time behind the wheel.

Which brings us back to the boat story. What are the criteria for getting insurance on a "go fast" 2000hp boat? How many hours, and what training does that boat owner have to get before the insurance company says "go for it, Dude!”? As far as I can tell, it amounts to: “how much horsepower insurance can you afford, Dude?”

When an insurance company makes the wrong call, and should have said "no way, dude,” why is it that they suddenly feel the urge to call our business practices in to question when it was their dude who did exactly what we all knew he would?