Recent statistics reveal that each month more than 500 vessels are stolen in the United States costing boat owners and their insurers millions of dollars annually. In turn, boat thieves often sell these stolen vessels to unsuspecting consumers for a large profit. But a newly-created database of vessel hull identification numbers (HIN) will enhance the efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), law enforcement personnel and the NICB to prevent, detect and report marine thefts and insurance fraud.
Before the creation of the database, law enforcement had to contact the particular boat manufacturer to verify watercraft information. Now, this new tool will streamline the access that law enforcement officials and insurers have to important identification information. The database will also serve the USCG in their work to accurately report and record on-water accidents. Boaters themselves will benefit from this improved system through speedier vessel identification and recovery in cases of theft.
The data that NICB is collecting from boat manufacturers includes:
- Hull identification number (HIN)
- Year of manufacture
- Overall length
- Hull material
- Propulsion type
- Fuel type
- Vessel type
Some records may also contain component serial numbers, which can further assist law enforcement and the NICB with vessel identification. NICB is also collecting hidden HIN numbers.
The database, a joint effort between NICB and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), went into production in August 2012, with Brunswick Boat Group, Grady White and Forever Resorts as beta testers. They also helped define the best information for inclusion in the database. NICB will serve as the repository for this information and will maintain the data on a proprietary basis at no cost to NMMA or its members.
In addition to the manufacturers, the database was supported by the International Association of Marine Investigators (IAMI), BoatUS, and the National Association of Boating Law Administrators.
At present, the database contains over 661,000 boat records received directly from the following boat manufacturers:
- Bayliner Marine
- Boston Whaler
- Brunswick Commercial and Government Products
- Cabo Yachts
- Fun Country Marine
- Grady-White Boats
- Harris Flotebote
- Lowe Boats
- Lund Boats
- Scout Boats
- Sea Ray
- Triton Aluminum
- Trophy Sportfishing Boats
In less than a year, we have grown from an initial test phase with three manufacturers to nine manufacturers containing records for 20 Brands, with other manufacturers showing an interest in joining.
NICB reminds its members to timely and accurately report thefts of boats and personal water craft to ISO ClaimSearch in order for NICB to determine insurable interest. By properly reporting theft claims, and the ability for NICB and law enforcement to access the type of information being supplied by the boat manufacturers, members receive prompt recovery notification.