Insuring Your Boat may be the Best Policy

As with any insurance it is only truly appreciated after the fact, home insurance may cover theft, fire, damage etc. and in the event of any of these happening then it is great to have. Paying out hard earned cash to cover something that may never happen when you could buy a cool piece of kit for your boat is galling but advisable.

All insurance companies work on probability – the chance great or small that something will or will not happen. A boat that never leaves your back yard is not likely to succumb to sea going damage and theft should be less likely, especially if you take precautions, but who wants a boat that is a landlocked back yard feature? Boats are meant to be used. Because insurance companies are subjected to people making fraudulent claims, trying to ‘pull a fast one’ etc., the premiums do increase plus the insurers will tighten up the pay-out requirements depending upon empirical evidence. Therefore, any insurance policy needs to be studied and each buyer should take reliable advice to ensure that the product they are buying is appropriate in their case. Acquiring a written quotation makes good sense, shop around and compare quotes, we do recommend checking with experienced boating people at the Yacht Club, Marina, or where ever you get together with like minded folks, the boating publications are also a good place to seek out specialist advice on such matters.

As we have recommended before where-ever your boat is kept make it secure, remove valuable kit and removable items to a lock up where possible, mark your boat/fixtures and fittings as a precaution against theft – they are easier to trace if they can be identified, and use your cell phone to photograph the boat, equipment and kit to make identification easier.

A good deal depends on what you are sailing and where. Dinghy and smaller boat sailors who can take their boats home after a day on the water may not bother with insurance cover, the boat may even be covered when at home on one’s house insurance – just make sure the insurance company list it on the proposal form.

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You’re probably not required by law to have boat insurance, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need it. Many places require that you have liability coverage on certain types of boats such as powerboats with more than 50 horsepower, boat insurance covers you in the event of a loss or damage to your boat. Insurance generally covers most watercraft with motors, including fishing boats, pontoon boats, paddle boats, leisure craft and yachts. Boat insurance does not usually cover canoes, kayaks or personal watercraft. 

Physical damage coverage insures your boat against damage and loss caused by common risks, such as sinking, fire, storms, theft, and collision. The property covered can vary, but the policy will usually cover the hull and other permanent components, such as the motor.

Insurances will cover boaters for accidental damage caused by collision, meaning that your own boat and the other party should be covered and just as in motor insurance liability rests with the person at fault, proving culpability may be difficult. Insurance policies will cover theft so long as due care is paid to the security of the boat and contents.

Personal injury insurance is about financial protection for you and your family. Personal liability coverage within your homeowner’s policy may provide coverage for bodily injury and property damage sustained by others for which you or covered residents of your household are legally responsible, if you live aboard check with your broker or advisor about acquiring cover for your boat. Check out your life assurance cover as sports considered to be extreme – deep sea sailing for example – may not be included in ‘normal’ life assurances, you may have to pay extra for specific cover.

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Public liability is your ‘responsibility’ for the wellbeing of other members of the public and their property. In insurance, this refers to the cover given to compensate legal costs and compensation payments resulting from injuries or property damage to others, which was caused by you. Crewing personnel would be wise to ensure they are covered by insurance as injuries/accidents do happen at sea and people do get hurt.

Insurance requirements vary from country to country and ignorance is no defence in law. Stay safe, buy the requisite insurances and take due care and attention always.

Sail safe.

NB. Members with direct information on any matter included in the Marine Forecaster Newsletters are invited to submit helpful advice and information, experiences etc for the benefit of less experienced people who would value your positive input. Please, contact the Editor to arrange inclusion.

Passionate about boating safety.