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Posted by Jesse on February 16, 2007 at 21:50:46:

Normally I reseve my complaints and "hey watch out for this" comments to buddies but I think I should let everyone know about this. I own a boat that I specifically purchased so that I could dive wreck alley and other locations. Recently my engine ingested water and sustained what is referred to as a "hydrolock." Basically water traveled up through the exhaust and dumped into the engine cylinders, requiring extensive and (more importantly) very expensive repairs. Here's the story:

Here's the kind of service you can expect from Progressive. I signed up for boat, roadside, and ON WATER TOWING insurance.

My engine started running awkwardly about an hour into the trip. I was at 5000 rpm and barely reaching 10 mph. I wanted to avoid overheating so I anchored and called my “insurance” to tow me back to the dock. The person on the other end of the line had no idea what I was talking about and said that Progressive did not offer the service I was requesting, nor could they access my records to review my policy. However, they were nice enough to offer me roadside assistance. Too bad I was 5 miles off shore. I couldn't afford an out of pocket tow from where I was so I tried limping my way back to Mission Bay a little bit at a time, stopping regularly to avoid damaging the engine. Near the end of the day when I last went to start the the engine the seas were between 4 and 6 ft. That's when my boat hydrolocked as I tried to start it.

After $377 (the price Vessel Assist charged me for a tow) I filed a claim with my insurance for internal engine damage and the $377 (I'm covered up to $2,500 per incident). Well, it's been three weeks and they still can't tell me whether or not they're going to cover it. Meanwhile, the freelance adjuster (Progressive hires out its claims to freelancers) called me to chew me out for not having my boat at the boat shop on a Tuesday despite having made arrangements to have it there on the Thursday of that week. When he finally showed up, he took EXTERNAL pictures and stated that the INTERNAL damage was due to wear and tear. I subsequently had to take my boat home and after raising the BS flag with my agent, had to return the boat to the shop so the engine could be taken apart for the adjuster to look at the actual damage. This is what should have happened the first time. I'm a week and a half into the claim at this point.

Late this week the boat shop called to let me know that the adjuster wouldn't be out until next week to take a look at the problem. Progressive's policy is that they will pay for the tear down and engine pulling (they require FULL disassembly) but will not pay for reassembly and engine drop if they deny the claim. Essentially they saddle the client with at least $500 in charges to reassemble a broken engine. So far the agent has pretty much assured me that this won't be covered but it'll be at least another TWO WEEKS before I know for sure.

The fact of the matter is that, had Progressive made good on their tow coverage, the hydrolock would not have occurred. This is my next fight if they decide they are going to dump this on me. Please learn from my misadventures and avoid this company. Go with a reputable company like US Boat or Allstate. The reason I'm so pissed is that the boat shop warned me about this as soon as I let them know who the insurer was and now Progressive is following the predicted path. Make sure you review your insurance policies and talk to your customer service rep. Don't wait until you're at the mercy of the adjuster before you review your policy.

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