Insuring Famous Rides: The S.S. Minnow

Prior to departing on his fateful 3-hour tour, the Skipper of the S.S. Minnow would have benefited from buying boat insurance. Find out what coverages it would need.

Insuring the SS Minnow

Photo by Ron Richard

The poor, doomed S.S. Minnow. This modest pleasure craft is unique to our Insuring Famous Rides series in that no one ever saw the Minnow in action, unless you count “the tiny ship was tossed” sequence in the opening credits of Gilligan’s Island … hardly the Minnow’s finest hour. Skipper Jonas Grumby’s (yes, that was his name) 40-foot boat was actually totaled before we got our first glimpse of the castaways back in 1964 — and it remained in a dilapidated state for the show’s entire 3-year run.

How do we know the Minnow was a total loss? Well, apparently it was easier for the castaways to construct a pedal-powered washing machine and a bamboo lie-detector device than to fix the hole in the side of the boat. (Stop us if you’ve heard some version of that joke before.)

In any event, let’s play the role of eternal optimist and imagine a time before that fateful 3-hour tour began. Assuming a healthy, seaworthy Minnow, what might the Skipper’s annual insurance premium have been? Well, let’s start by determining what types of coverage he would’ve needed to purchase.

Liability coverage

This covers the repair or replacement cost of damage to another person’s boat or property. And since the Skipper employed Gilligan as a first mate, random property damage was probably a near-constant concern. Given that, $1,000,000 in coverage wouldn’t have been out of the question!

Medical payments

Since this coverage can help pay the medical bills of anyone injured while on the ship, it would be a wise investment. Though everyone made it through the Minnow’s initial shipwreck without so much as a scratch, most wrecks aren’t quite so injury-free. (Too bad this coverage doesn’t apply to injuries sustained on deserted islands. It would’ve come in handy when Gilligan was bonked on the head with a coconut and started seeing everything upside down.)

Collision coverage

Obviously, this would cover damage done to the Minnow in a collision with another boat, or a pier, or a buoy, or debris, or … you get the picture. If you’re going to let Gilligan steer, probably best to load up on this coverage too.

Personal effects coverage

Whatever the max coverage was, the Skipper should have purchased it … especially since his tour customers were in the habit of bringing enough clothing to last 3 years. Plus, with a millionaire (and his wife) on board, there are bound to be at least a few valuables on the tiny ship.

Uninsured boater coverage

Always a good idea to have this, since it provides protection in the event of a collision with an uninsured boater — like those headhunters who kayaked to the island (we assume). As a side note: headhunter insurance? Not a bad idea either.

Insuring the S.S. Minnow

So what would the Skipper’s annual premium have been? Since we don’t know the Minnow’s accident history, let’s go ahead and assume (again, Gilligan), that it’s not spotless. Combine that with the need for max coverage and the fact that it’s a 40-foot boat, and we’ll say $2,500 per year.*

The good news is that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when you adjust that premium to 1964 dollars it comes to $337.72 and suddenly doesn’t look so bad at all.

And since we have the benefit of hindsight in this case, we can confidently say that every dime spent on insuring the S.S. Minnow prior to a certain 3-hour tour would have been money well spent!

*Since insuring a doomed (and fictional) boat is unchartered territory for us, this is just a guess. If you have a real boat to insure, get a boat insurance quote through Esurance. Or learn more about coverages in our boat insurance FAQs.

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