During the past year, fuel prices have been extremely volatile and seemed to be at their peak in the midst of the boating season. For some boaters, this season was a time to scale back on their boating. For others, it was a time to modify their boating habits so they could still enjoy their vessels without breaking the bank. Customer needs and the marketplace are changing, which creates the opportunity for something new and different.
While the marine industry has been developing new technology to meet stricter emission standards, there was little doubt that the logical next step was to implement hybrid technology to improve fuel efficiency and answer demands. Hybrid power allows the operator to utilize electric propulsion at low speeds to minimize or eliminate emissions, reduce noise, and lower fuel consumption. However, hybrid-powered boats can generate the horsepower needed to reach higher speeds when the internal combustion engine kicks into gear.
Some examples of recently introduced hybrid craft include the Scout 145, a full line of powerboats from Frauscher Bootswerft, and the Island Pilot DSe, which made its debut at the 2008 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Additionally, Steyr Motors, which powers the Frauscher and Island Pilot hybrid vessels, markets its hybrid engine as the “world’s first serial hybrid propulsion system for pleasure boats.” There’s also word around the industry that other large production marine manufacturers are researching hybrid propulsion and developing prototypes to include in their lineup of boats.
Hybrid vessels are using the latest, state-of-the-art technology. At Travelers, it is important that we closely follow the newest developments in boating so we can deliver innovative marine insurance products and services to meet our customers’ evolving needs. Offering the industry’s first insurance discount for hybrid-boat owners is just one more benefit for people making the decision to purchase them.
With the growing buzz and popularity of hybrid technology, it is appropriate that we understand these vessels using this technology from an insurance perspective. Travelers’ marine specialists thoroughly reviewed the functionality and operation of hybrid boats currently in the marketplace to gain an understanding of their operation. This helps us to best serve our customers in the unfortunate circumstance that they file a claim. When something goes wrong for someone that invested in a hybrid-powered boat, they need to get back into the water as quickly as possible, especially for those living in areas with a short boating season.
Rising fuel prices and the slowing economy will not stop boaters. Rather, those challenges will make the marine industry stronger through innovation and enhanced services that will be a benefit for everyone involved in boating.
Travelers Boat & Yacht Insurance Division