Business Insurance Afloat

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Heartbeat patter patter.  Ever wake up in the middle of the night thinking “OMG we forgot to ____” fill in the blank here with something salient and worth waking up about.  Humm… Maybe you forgot to call your mom on her birthday.  Perhaps you forgot to pay a particular bill (thank heavens for autopay these days), or you forgot to send in the check so your child can attend summer camp.  Oops.

How about “my business isn’t insured properly!”   Yes, seriously, I woke up in the night about this matter.  We’d had a tech business a few years back and we weren’t really thinking about starting one here in the San Francisco Bay area.  Remember, we were just thinking about working here for a bit while we figure out our next big thing to do, right?  Well, then a nice consulting gig came along and now we’re “back in business,” for a while. The gig is small, came via a referral from a previous business contact and there’s not a huge amount of liability associated with the project–so no, I wasn’t thinking about errors and omissions insurance or general liability.  Nope, not that at all.  Rather, I was thinking about business property insurance.  This gig is really all about analysis and a bit of software development.  This particular gig was not supposed to require anything beyond a decent computer.  The data would be collected on somebody else’s ultra expensive ultra impressive scientific equipment.  Yep, that was the plan.

Then, the project sort of morphed a bit.  Now there’s an add-on of building some custom scientific imaging equipment (read ultra expensive ultra impressive) and testing that custom bit with our software.  Hummm….while it was loads of fun ordering all the stuff required, when I got the wire transfer in my account from our customer to pre-pay for the equipment, I suddenly realized, “wow, this is really one expensive bit of kit we’ve got going here.”  The “sudden” didn’t happen right that minute.  Rather it was late that night when I awoke from a deep sleep with my own profound “oops! I forgot the insurance.”  I called my insurer from when we had our previous tech company since the equipment was much along the same lines.  I also called my personal property insurer.  What did I learn?  Remember we live on a boat, right?  Well, cutting to the chase, nope, the insurers won’t write a policy for business property located on a boat.  There are a couple insurance companies that will write a land-based policy for our business and then if the equipment ends up on a boat–it’s  fine with them.  One hitch:  our legal residence address is in the state of Florida. Nobody will write a NEW business insurance policy in Florida.  Something about hurricanes and all.  Nix that idea.  We do have a storage unit here in California.  Next try–let’s see if they’ll insure at that address.  Actually makes a bit of sense as that is the place we store tools, business files, and equipment we’re not directly using.  There’s simply not enough space on the boat otherwise.   I’ll have to dig at this a little deeper.

In the meanwhile, I made sure my customer had a location independent policy on equipment they own.  Yes, they do.  So, since they’ve already paid for it, it’s theirs.  I still need to obtain business property insurance ASAP.  Just another thing on the list of “it’s different when you live on a boat.”

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