Finance & Insurance experts upbeat
on season ahead

“The words I would use are cautiously optimistic. We’re hoping for a good season. Interest rates are still very attractive,” reports Don Parkhurst, senior vice president of SunTrust Marine Lending. “Boat buyers may want to consider that as the economy recovers, the Fed’s intention is to raise interest rates, so from that perspective, if you’re in the market for a boat, now’s the time to buy, because rates are still low and they’re bound to rise.” 

Dave Trostle, vice president of Sterling Acceptance Corporation, agrees. “Indicators are that 2005 should be an up year for the marine industry,” he notes. “With the election behind us, we should have direction and stability as far as the economy goes for the next few years. Rates will probably rise slightly over the course of the year, but not enough to effect purchasing decisions. On a typical $100,000 loan, a change of one full percent will only affect a person’s monthly payment by fifty-seven dollars a month.”

Jerry Pitts, manager of Russo Marine Financial Services’ Chesapeake branch, sees the New York Boat Show as a harbinger of the spring boating season. “There was a lot of activity in New York. A lot of our dealers are writing deals. I think it’s going to be a great season.” 

Pat Miller of Anchor Finance has an optimistic attitude as well. “Customers seem upbeat, rates are holding. They can only go up, but we can still offer as low as four and a half percent on an adjustable program. The dealers and brokers we’ve been working with have been doing well. The spring boat shows should spark some interest.”

Jim Nolan, director of underwriting with BoatU.S. cautions that marine insurance companies are going to be more selective in their coverage because of last year’s devastating hurricane season in Florida. “We’ve instituted a hurricane deductible, no matter where you keep your boat,” he reports. “We’re looking for people to share some of the risk when a hurricane comes, to give them an incentive to protect their boat in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

According to Al Golden of International Marine Insurance Services, “Florida has become an insurance nightmare. Most of the companies have pulled out of covering boats permanently moored there. But as long as they’re out of Florida during the hurricane season, usually June 15 to November 15, it’s not a problem.”