Insurance, what a rip-off! The experience of an angry reader
One of our readers has written to us to share his experience, during a charter in Croatia. We answer with a brief comment, but the story needs to be read.
We received and are publishing a letter sent to us by one of our readers, in regards to a bad experience during a charter in Croatia. When talking about insurance it is important to be clear, and for this reason, Liguria Nautica has recently discussed the topic with a special column which, we are hoping, will help with some useful advice. Below the letter, we have added a brief written comment, after having contacted one of our insurance experts. Tell us what you think, or if you have ever had a similar experience. The third party in question, if they are interested, can always give us their version of the facts.
I am writing you to ask you to publish a story that, although it did not damage me directly, made me extremely angry.
In July 2014 through a company in Verona I chartered a boat in Croatia from the charter company, Adriatic Challenge, Biograd. I checked all the documents and standard insurance and also added comprehensive, reducing the excess to the minimum amount. I lifted anchor, then left.
The next day while I was looking for a better place to drop anchor I noticed another boat at anchor whose crew (Italian) I had met the evening before, at dinner. While I came closer to their boat to say hello, the sea was flat, then, the waves of a motorboat that I hadn’t noticed hit me violently on the side of the hull and pushed me against their boat. The gunwale was not damaged but, because of the wave, the vessel inclined and my mast hit theirs and my crosstree hit and broke theirs. I had no damage, but their boat, with the broken crosstree had to reenter the port immediately, where for as much as I know, it remained for 3 days (which on a charter of one week is a lot). I immediately wrote an email to the charter where I rented the boat (Adriatic Challenge) reporting the incident and clearly admitting my responsibility (I was too close to a boat at anchor). I obviously thought that my mandatory public liability insurance (the company was Yacht Pool, internationally well-known and considered very good) would indemnify the operator for the damages and the crew for the forced anchorage of the boat – the boat was rented from the Charter Pitter Yacht, also in Biograd. As the culprit I would have had the right to indemnity for the damages through my comprehensive insurance policy, obviously within the limits of the excess, but I had no damages and only paid for the inspection of the mast by consultants from Selden.
Once I finished my holiday, upon my return to the port in Biograd I contacted the captain of the ship I damaged, and we both went to our respective Charter companies (Adriatic Challenge and Pitter Yacht) to fill in together the standard documents (pre-printed by Yacht Pool), in addition the same Charter companies sent us off to make a claim notification at the local port authority (Harbour Master) where Captain Damir Santini collected the declarations, inspected the boats and imposed on both of us a fine of about 100 euros for having notified him of the accident with a delay of over 72 hours.
We shook hands and then each went to our own cities, him to Verona, and myself to Milan, with the certainty that the insurance would have reimbursed the damages, also because Pitter had also acted as guarantor for his deposit of 1300 euros which is usually kept as a deductible for comprehensive insurance for damages caused to the vessel by the policy holder, not by other vessels from that being commanded, especially if there is written notification of the facts and a clear admission of responsibility by the captain of the vessel causing the damages (in this case, me).
And here begins the odyssey for us commanders (the guilty and damaged parties) with the insurance company Yacht Pool in the person of a certain Darko Zelenika who, in the beginning seemed to be helpful and asked us for various documents, he then became evasive and invented increasingly stupid and absurd reasons to not pay the damaged party, until he stopped responding altogether. Obviously we still have seen no money!!
Now I am asking myself how, in a country that recently became a part of the European Union, an insurance company with branches all over the world can so easily evade its responsibilities in the face of a claim which I have already paid as part of my boat rental fee.
Be careful, because this famous company, YACHT POOL INTERNATIONAL, is well advertised, defines itself to be the best in Croatia when evidently it defrauds the damaged parties, certain of immunity because of claims coming from foreign countries and people who maybe don’t have it in them to fight for their rights, like the commander in this case, who told me he has given up because it was impossible to get anywhere , and there was no point in getting a lawyer in Croatia notwithstanding the 1300 euros he had to pay and the problem of the forced anchorage of the boat for the whole crew on holiday. All as if it was a small local business when instead it has a very organised structure and a central office in Germany, as far as I know.
What’s more, the same insurance company also offers a number of services to Italians (sponsoring them in Italian on its website) like the registration of vessels in the Croatian Naval Register (http://www.yacht-pool-savjetovanje.hr/hr/eu-import-administration/questionario-amministrazione-importazione/).
I therefore hope that you publish this story and can give the right advice on how to behave in these cases, seeing as Italians often go to Croatia and I wouldn’t want anyone to find themselves having to pay damages for which they have already paid appropriate and mandatory insurance cover on, while the insurance company pulls a fast one.
The comment of our expert: “The operator of the damaged vessel should have, however, notified and made a claim on his own hull policy. Then, in the case of any problems, which happened here, he would have been covered by his policy and could have made a claim recovery against the other company, also to be able to recover the excess from the policy holder”.