Author(s): Thomas W. Emery


Who knew? Apparently a lot of folks at the large oil companies, according to a recent class action filed in California. It seems that federal regulations requiring the addition of 10% ethanol to gasoline (called “E10″) may lead to a claim or two sitting on your desk.

It turns out that Ethanol is not only a good way to stretch our nation’s gas supply, it also is a very effective means of dissolving resins, such as fiberglass. Unfortunately, quite a few of the boats in this country are equipped with a gas tank, fittings and supply lines made of these resins. Recent experience has demonstrated that these failed connections can lead to one messy bilge, and frankly a very unsafe condition, should an engine be turned over with the product free in the boat.

In addition to catastrophic failure, as a result of its “solvent properties” Ethanol can lead to the accumulation of “gunk” (technical term) in the carbs and filters on the engines, leading to engine failure and damage.

Most boat policies contain very comprehensive coverage for property loss (sometimes referred to as “all-risk”), while retaining exclusions for gradual property damage occasioned by “wear and tear,” “rot,” and similar causes that do not fall under the typical understanding of an “occurrence” or “accident.” Moreover, the fact that this type of reaction is now pretty well known to the public raises the issue of a “known loss” and taking affirmative steps to prevent the loss.

We will be addressing these issues at our next Seminar, and discussing some tips on analyzing and adjusting these claims.


Garan Lucow Miller, P.C. is pleased to announce our 1st Annual Maritime Breakfast Seminar being held on Thursday, June 19, 2008 from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at the Frederik Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park (1000 E Beltline Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan).

This seminar is an introductory course to the concepts of maritime law, and is intended to provide persons working in the insurance industry with a basic understanding of the law surrounding boating claims. The seminar will discuss both first and third party claims, as well as coverage issues, and will include a case study of a collision accident – and a review of the type of issues arising from such an incident.


Breakfast and registration will begin at 8:00 a.m. with presentations at 8:30 a.m. The seminar will end with a question and answer session from noon until 1:00 p.m. The following topics will be covered at the Maritime Breakfast Seminar:

  • Basic overview of maritime law – including whether State or Federal Law controls.
  • Quick review of maritime terminology (Glossary provided with course materials).
  • Distinctions between State and Federal Law, including availability of Limitation of Liability, Tort Reform.
  • First party claims and coverage defenses – including an exploration of the “wear and tear” exclusions, “racing exclusions”, “sue & labor” clauses, intra-family exclusions and “ubermaiee fidae”. Also a review of SSO’s (“Striking Submerged Object”)
  • Underinsured/Uninsured Boater Coverage – triggers and defenses of claims.
  • Theft claims – when the insured is upside down on his boat.
  • Salvage, Towing and Wreck Removal – a discussion of the basic distinctions and tips on negotiating with a pirate.
  • Specialized investigators – when to bring in a marine surveyor, salvor, tower or other expert – and why.
  • Subrogation claims against marinas and other contractors, including products liability.
  • CASE STUDY – An analysis of two boat collisions plus an analysis of third party liability claims, and some of the basic concepts of apportioning fault.

Don’t miss this opportunity! Register Today! Seating is limited.

To register for the Maritime Breakfast Seminar hosted by Garan Lucow Miller, P.C., contact Kristi G. Woloszyk at Please ensure to include your name, company, title, address, phone, fax and email address (if registering a colleague). We’ll see you on June 19th!