The call turned into a story about Michigan, liability coverage custom-tailored for professional guides, and a story about the challenges any of us remotely associated with sport fishing feel we share. I made a new friend that day in talking to Dan; and so, potentially, did our angling community. You will see ads splashing around for the company on our site, and I will try to tell you a little about Charter Lakes as well. If you are a professional guide, or even just a serious angler like many of us associated with this site are, you probably, like us, take a lot of newbies onto the water. Inexperienced newbies. It makes sense to be safe, and a great friend on Thursday could be a law suit on Wednesday next. Or that brandie-new $90,000 boat can become shattered glass or (worse yet) some Miami drug dealer's cool new fishing boat in a matter of an evening. Not to sound dark and gloomy, but stuff happens.
Now there is not a single trusted professional guide out there without enough insurance to make good on paying off your house if you get seriously hurt on their boat. One of the real issues we have with some people calling themselves "guides" though, is those who don't carry enough - or even any - insurance for their angler clients. I have friends who will not like our saying that, because they are kayak guides who see no need to insure somebody 100 feet away from them in their own craft (or the guides'). But if you call yourself a guide, you should insure your clients against the unimaginable happening.
This is a critically important issue regarding insurance if you make your living putting people on fish. Guides who are of the mindset that they are buying insurance to protect their assets are not comprehending the importance of also having proper insurance from a financially sound underwriter to protect the valuable human cargo they transport on their boats. That "Cargo" has families and loved ones that will be hurt in many ways including financially if they do not come home. So perhaps when one is booking a guided fishing trip, the additional question regarding that Captain's level of insurance coverage for their angler clients is one worth asking.
The Story of How Dan Became Dan The Man With The Plan
When I first spoke with Charter Lakes President Dan Longman on the phone, I started by asking him about his time on the water. We can roughly split everybody in our world into two categories: people whose entire life has been partially damp at the very least, and people who just started getting wet recently. Dan was in the first category.
"It was my dad", he answered when asked who put him on the water initially. "I was 10 the first time I was on a boat. Dad had just bought a 36' cruiser so we could experience boating. As the oldest kid, I spent my summers on the boat in Saugatuck. A friend of my father's owned a yacht, and working it became my life. I began cleaning and polishing it and basically did cosmetic maintenance. Then, the captain and the owner had a falling out and I started crewing."
Talking to people like Dan - and all the people I interview as publisher of this magazine - gives you a sense of how important this lifestyle is to our own lives.
"That was June of 1970. The following summer the owner asked if I would captain the vessel. From that time on, the water essentially was my life. I was 16 years old, and I was captain on a 57' Chris Craft." While I was on the phone with Dan I was thinking to myself about catching my first tarpon in 1968. Age Sixteen? I was no captain of a 57 footer at sixteen. The story got better.
Three years later, a tragic accident took Dan's friend and the owner of the boat. The yacht went onto market. The owners of the marina were well aware of Dan's relationship not only with the owner, but with the craft, and he was contracted to show the boat to possible buyers. He met one of them at the dock one day, and they asked for a sea trial. By day's end, Dan began a 12 year stint as the Captain of the now-corporate entertainment vehicle. I can only imagine the stories the guy doesn't want to – or cannot – tell. I've been around the environment for a while; party boats are places where big parties happen. And were people are partying, they sometimes party too much.
But onto the story of Dan the man. Researching and writing articles like this one is perhaps more interesting then reading them. You have to be there to write them. You can only hope you put the reader on the water for a moment; in the story for three minutes. But with something like this, we hope that if you think about buying insurance for your boat, you think about this guy Dan. Knowing the "Dans" of the world is worth a lot. It's what we try to bring to you with these stories.
Charter Lakes Marine Insurance
Dan's father was in the insurance business. When he got the boat, and began to live that life some of us live and feel blessed with, it was a natural that he would eventually connect the two. In seventy-eight he was working with St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance company, and developed a custom policy for sport fishing charter boats. Following in his father's footsteps and the family business, Dan sold all lines of coverage, of course. But by this time he had real-world experience as one of those professionals we talk about. Whether you're running a corporate (or regular, for that matter) angler to the tarpon fishery, or just a sunset cruise with his or her "niece or nephew", you better be insured. Since he had bought plenty of it in his role as Captain, Dan knew what was good and what was bad.
So Dan Longman soon became a serious player in the world of Marine Insurance. In 1986 he bought the family business, and changed the name to Charter Lakes Marine Insurance. "I was in it for the long haul" he laughed. It takes an hour to do an interview like this. In that time, Dan and I found a thousand commonalities and laughter was definitely part of the story.
"In 1990 I sold Charter Lakes to a larger insurance agency but continued working for them which allowed me to keep focusing my attention on marine insurance but to also pursue some other interests. In 1992 Charter Lakes received the endorsement of the National Association of Charterboat Operators (NACO) which took us from a regional insurer to a national insurer. We still have the NACO endorsement today."
"I have sold businesses and then bought them back after the new owners failed to reach their personal goals or expectations for the "thing" they had bought. In 1997 I purchased Charter Lakes back and have owned it ever since. " Dan told me.
Charter Lakes focuses 100% of its attention on marine insurance and are happy to quote anyone looking for boat insurance at any level. They have developed special group rate insurance programs for Passenger Vessels and Guided Sportfishing. They are the national player in the field, and we at TOF strongly suggest that all of our guide readers as well as more casual boat owner anglers check them out to compare rates and coverage options.
So Charter Lakes specializes in providing coverage for guides and yachts (our own Captain David Rieumont is one of their clients which as I mentioned is how this story came about). Their options include a Tournament Angler program and a Commercial Watercraft program. With branches in Annapolis MD, Wilmington NC, Jacksonville, FL and Houston TX, as well as through their HQ in Grand Rapids, Mi - they reach a lot of our world, and it's a real joy to have them working with us. According to Dan, "Charter Lakes' mission has always been to provide our clients with the best overall value on their marine insurance by delivering the broadest insurance protection at the most competitive price. This is all we do, so we have to be the best at it!"
From the Publisher: When I talked to Dan, I sent him what he joked was like an IRS questionnaire (one of our favorite things to chat about besides fishing, boating, politics, and our families, not in that order if you are reading this, my dear wife Ellenn). The questionnaire was not about the company or the guy; talking could do that. What I asked for was for him to explain to me how a company specializes in providing insurance for guides and yachts. So Dan, after a couple of weeks found the time to write a killer story about insuring guides and boats like the ones he ran for those 15 or more years. We are going to put it into the work flow in the next few weeks, so watch our newsletter. Dan's running a business that specializes in guides, he knows boats. I'm not a pro, but I'm gonna check his pricing against the stuff I have now, and will put the discussion of boat insurance on the site. I can tell you firsthand from spending time looking into this subject that people like Dan and companies like Charter Lakes Marine Insurance feel you are important to them – or they wouldn't be here. They also know that it's only a percentage of the people that read these stories who are likely to need insurance that day. They come here to teach you. To teach you about themselves, certainly, but to teach you about the businesses or services or products they offer and the importance of being properly covered for any and all possible scenarios at a price that is very affordable. We take our relationships very serious, and want to thank Dan, VP Mark VanEpps, and the people at Charter Lakes for seeing you for what you really are – the community. Thanks to all of you.