17 May Tips and Techniques: It’s Launch Season

Adam PhillipsLaunch season brings sun, warmer temps, and the return of the boating season. But for boating businesses, this time of year also brings more risk of added exposure for your operation. Starkweather & Shepley Insurance Brokerage Account Executive Adam Phillips, AAI, overviews the risks and the solutions for the boating businesses during the busy launch season.


Launch Season is one of the most exciting times in a boatyard: the sun beings to shine and boats are finally going into the water.  But what most do not like to think about are the added exposures associated with this time of year.  Unfortunately, those of us in the Insurance Industry are all too familiar with what can happen.

First, envision walking down the dock on Monday morning and the first thing you see is the boat you launched Friday afternoon sitting on the bottom.  Did the owner come down over the weekend?  Did you check the through-hulls?  Was there a leak we missed?  How did this happen?  Unfortunately, this is a scenario we have seen or heard about all too often.

Now, imagine you’re in the shop writing up an estimate, and all of the sudden you hear the dreadful crunch of fiberglass being ripped apart.  You run outside and find the boat being prepped for launch resting on two other boats.  Where was the blocking?  Where was the travel lift?  Where did we go wrong?

Lastly, picture sitting at home on a Saturday afternoon watching the Red Sox play the Yankees. It is the bottom of the 9th and the score is all tied up—then your phone rings.  The caller ID says it’s John, your top employee.  When you pick up the phone you recognize the voice, not as John, but as his wife.  She calls you in tears to inform you that John is in the hospital as a result of a work accident at the yard.  Apparently he slipped and was knocked unconscious that morning as he was putting docks in the water.

These may be difficult scenarios to think about but they are all real-life examples of the accidents that occur, and in most cases ones that could have been avoided and or mitigated.  Solutions can be as simple as the following:

-Utilizing a “Lockout/Tagout” procedure to ensure boats are ready for launch

-Collecting a properly executed Winter Storage Contract including Evidence of Insurance

-Having all subcontractors provide Evidence of Insurance

-Holding Tool Box Talks before the start of every work day

-Attending Industry Association training seminars

-Instituting a “buddy system” for all dock work

-Taking full advantage of insurance company loss control services

The exposures we face in the marine industry are unique and diverse.  As a boatyard or marina, it is important to understand those exposures and how to deal with them.  A qualified Marine Insurance Broker can work with you to identify your individual exposures and assist you with your Risk Management Program.


Starkweather & Shepley Insurance Brokerage’s waterfront experience coupled with their market knowledge enables the company to provide specialized coverage and personalized service. The company’s Claims Unit has the experience to navigate your claim for a timely resolution.

Starkweather & Shepley employs insurance professionals with marine experience in placing insurance for boatyards, boat builders, shipyards, and vessel operators. Working closely with industry groups and insurance carriers, the company has successfully developed national programs for: ABBRAGARD, a program designed exclusively for boat builders and repairers available only to members of the American Boat Builders & Repairers Association; the Community Boating & Sailing School Program, offered exclusively to organizations dedicated to sailing education; the C-PORT Insurance Program, available to operators of quick response towing and salvage vessels; and coverage for members of the National Marine Charter Association (NMCA).