Last year marked the sixth consecutive year of growth in new boat sales and recreational boating expenditures, with that growth expected to continue through 2018 and possibly beyond, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), an association that tracks marine vessel buying trends. Some of that growth may be coming from boaters who lost vessels during 2017 hurricanes Harvey and Irma, whose combined damage and destruction caused approximately $655 million dollars in damage to recreational vessels.
As the spring boating season rapidly approaches, agents can expect an increase in new boats entering the market. Agents should be on the lookout for a variety of new opportunities.
2018 Boating Trends
Knowing what to expect in terms of buyer trends and sales for the year ahead can help agents prepare themselves for the upcoming uptick in boats entering the market. Here are some of the trends for 2018:
- Family boats are one way boat manufacturers are attracting new and younger customers. Versatile family-friendly vessels offer boat buyers an all-in-one package that allows them to go cruising, fishing and do watersports.
- Bigger and better boats are growing in popularity, as boaters are looking to spend more time out on the water, cruising, entertaining and just relaxing. Bigger boats provide more amenities to boaters looking for an upgrade.
- Customizable options are trending, especially with seasoned boaters who are particular about the features of their watercraft. Tailor-made boats are a hot item at boat shows.
- New technology on personal boats is definitely something to look out for. Digital dashboards on boats can connect all of the systems together in one easy-to-navigate system. This new technology may also come with some risks that insurance agents should be ready for.
- First-time boaters are making a splash on the industry too, typically buying smaller, simpler, easy-to-navigate vessels. Agents should explore a few different marketing techniques in 2018 in order to expand their reach to new boaters.
Preparing Clients for the Upcoming Boating Season
Regardless of whether clients are new or seasoned boaters, it’s always helpful to reach out to them and share tips to get them ready to hit the water. Here are a few ways agents can help their clients prepare for the upcoming boating season:
Travelers recommends taking these steps:
- Send out a checklist of maintenance steps that boaters should do before their first trip of the season. Include tips like; replacing or topping off oil and fluids, having the engine checked and/or tuned up, checking the integrity of all of the belts and hoses, checking the water and bilge pumps, ensuring all electronics systems are working properly and re-familiarizing themselves with navigation and safety equipment.
- Remind boaters to review their policies, especially if they have made upgrades to their boats or added additional watersport accessories to their collection.
- Familiarize clients with weather preparedness tips. In the event that extreme weather is expected, agents can prepare boaters by helping them create an emergency plan for securing their vessels is possible.
About Merrimac Marine Insurance
At Merrimac Marine, we are dedicated to providing insurance for the marine industry to protect your clients’ business and assets. For more information about our products and programs, contact our specialists today at (800) 681-1998.