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Table of Contents
What is boat insurance?
Boat insurance, as the name suggests, covers the most frequent damages encountered by happy boats’ owners.
These damages may concern the boat itself (theft of equipment, or theft of the entire boat, collision with an underwater object etc.) but also crew members who could easily get injured whilst being on a boat.
Boat insurance can also protect you against potential damage that you could cause to a third party (collision with another boat for example).
If not always mandatory, we would however strongly suggest any boats’ owner, especially of high value boats, to get boat insurance.
Do I need boat insurance?
Bad things do not only happen to others and you are never exempt from a boat accident whilst you are at sea. Additionaly, damages implying boats easily reach significant amounts.
Getting a boat insurance will allow you to sail with complete peace of mind. This is why we would strongly advise you to apply for boat insurance.
You’ll find below indicative figures of what frequent accidents at sea usually cost to boats’ owners:
|Most frequent accidents||Average cost of damage|
|Collision (32% of claims)||£3,000|
|Storm damage (10% of claims)||£17,600|
|Collision with underwater objects||£10,000|
|Water intrusion, sinking||£11,200|
Is boat insurance mandatory?
Boat insurance is mandatory in many situations as listed below:
- If you wish to use your boat for racing or if you wish to charter your boat.
- If you wish to obtain a boating licence for inland waterways. This depends very much on the local authorities. Always check first the laws in force in areas you intent to go.
- If you want to take out a loan to buy your own boat.
You must know that more and more marinas and local authorities are asking for a minimum third party insurance for motorboat. For information, be aware that the Canal River Trust asks for a minimum £2 million third party cover.
How much is boat insurance?
Boat insurance can vary from a few dozen to several hundred pounds a year.
As you can imagine, many factors affect the price of your boat insurance: the type of boat for instance and its value in particular, but also on the place of anchorage, your sailing experience and of course the type of insurance you take (fully comprehensive or third party only).
You will find below indicative quotes of how much boat insurance may cost you:
|Third-party only (per year)||Comprehensive (per year)|
You can benefit from many discounts when subscribing to a boat insurance. Your number of years of experience, the number of years without claims, the number of claims over the past 5 years…
What factor will affect the price of my boat insurance?
As we have seen, there are a large number of factors influencing the cost of your insurance but the main ones are:
- The type of boat (category, model, size, motor etc.)
- The kind of cover you opt for (third party only or fully comprehensive)
- Your boat’s value
- If you can benefit from any no claim discount that most of insurers offer.
What does boat insurance cover?
As standard, boat insurance covers:
- Theft, attempted theft (boat, hull and machinery)
- Fire and explosion
- Heavy weather
- Collision (with another boat or with under water object)
- Malicious (physical loss or damage caused by someone else, has to be reported to the police)
- Salvage charges
- Liability to third party (accidental injury, damage to third party property or boat).
What does boat insurance not cover?
Usually, boat insurers do not cover as standard:
- Any boat unequipped by anti-theft device
- Gradual degradation due to wear and tear
- Any equipment undeclared in your schedule
- If the boat exceeds cruising limits
- Damage caused by insects or marine life
- Third party liability doesn’t cover people doing underwater sports or to people being towed behind the boat
- Damage caused by any irresponsible behavior (influence of alcohol or drugs).
Pay attention to carefully read your insurance policy, some terms and conditions can vary depending on the insurer.
What type of boat insurance do I need ?
When applying for boat insurance, you will have the choice between different level of policies according to your needs. In fact, insurers aim to provide you with the policy that best suits your situation to avoid unnecessary extra costs! We have therefore identified three main policies, detailed below:
|Third party liability||Any damage you may cause to others. Such damage could be a collision with another person’s vessel or to someone else’s property. This type of coverage is increasingly required by marinas and ports to moor your boat.||yes||£3 million or £5 million (depending on insurers)||£3 million or £5 million (depending on insurers)||£3 million or £5 million (depending on insurers)|
|Accidental damage (collision, weather, fire)||Any damage to your boat due to an unintended accident (very often storm damage or underwater collision)||Standard and Premium||no||boat value||boat value|
|Personal accident||Any physical damage you may suffer from (loss of a limb, loss of sight … body injury in general)||Premium or Extra||no||up to £40,000 (depending on insurers)||up to £40,000 (according to insurers)|
|Theft||Cover against theft or attempted theft on your boat||Standard and premium||no||boat value||boat value|
|Frost||Damage to your hull because of frost||Standard, Premium and extra||no||hull value||hull value|
|Malicious damage||Any damage caused by someone else on your boat voluntarily||Standard and premium||no||boat value||boat value|
|Trailer and transit||Cover of your trailer or any damage caused to your boat while it is in transit||Premium and extra||no||variable||variable|
|Personal effects||Coverage against any damage caused to insured personal belongings (loss of a phone while an underwater collision for example)||Premium and extra||no||up to £1,000 (depending on insurers)||up to £1,000 (depending on insurers)|
|European cover||coverage for cruising abroad||Standard, premium and extra||no||30 days||up to 90 days|
What type of boat can I get insurance for?
You can basically get insurance for any type of boat including:
- sailing boat (monohull, catamaran)
- motorboat (inland and coastal)
- dinghy (monohull and catamaran)
- small open motorboat.
Check out our main guides on insurance depending on your type of boat.
How can I get boat insurance?
To apply for boat insurance you will need the following information:
- The type of boat you own: insurers have specific categories of boats that have particular pricing. Some may ask your precise boat model;
- The value of your boat: the value of a boat can vary a lot according to its age, state, material … It is frequent to consult an expert who will give you a precise and realistic estimation that will avoid any misunderstanding between you and your insurer. Some insurers can even require the expertise of a surveyor for some boats (that exceeds a certain age for instance);
- Your boat year of construction;
- If there is a motor on your boat;
- The size of your boat;
- Its location and type of mooring;
- Your navigation experience;
- A potential no claim discount.
The no claim discount can go up to 25% if you didn’t have any claim for more than 4 consecutive years of insurance.
How to cancel your boat insurance ?
Each insurer has its own cancellation process (as for claims). You usually need to send a cancellation letter, email, or call them to express your wish not to proceed.
You have 14 days following the signature of the contract to cancel it and the entire premium will be refunded to you (unless a claim has been made during this period).
Beyond these 14 days, part of the premium will not be refunded (amount may vary according to the contract subscribed).
How to claim on my boat insurance?
If you are unfortunate enough to have suffered damage, please be sure to follow these points to make it easier for you to make a claim later on
- Keep the affected property as evidence
- When you are involved in an accident with another boat: get all the information on the boat in question and the owner’s contact details. If you are at fault and do not pay any money immediately, take the necessary steps and you will discuss the details with your insurer later.
- In case of theft or vandalism you must report them to the police and keep the Crime Reference Number.
- To proceed with a claim you must then deal directly with your insurer on the website, by sending an email or by phone.
Should I cover my boat during the winter season?
Even if you mostly use your boat during summer, covering it for the winter season is also important.
If your boat stays in a marina or a harbor, it is – exactly like an unused car parked on the roadside – very much exposed, not only to severe winter weather conditions such as frost or storms but also to frequent collision accidents happening in marinas during skipper maneuvers.
Even if you store your boat in a shed or on a trailer while waiting for the good weather, be aware that it is then much more vulnerable to theft, despite the presence of security systems. The majority of boat thefts happen in winter. If you are not covered against theft or accidents, you will have to pay out of your own pocket.
Is racing cover included in my boat insurance?
Boat racing involves many risks such as collisions between two boats competing, or with underwater objects. Let’s find out if you can get cover for racing depending on the type of boat you have:
- Yacht racing: the coverage of yachts for racing is a bit complex. Indeed, it will depend a lot on the contract you have chosen with your insurer. In concrete terms, you need to look at your contract in particular to determine your level of coverage for racing yachts. Most policies cover the hull and take into account third party liability but to insure other parts of your yacht in case of an accident during a race you will need to take out extras.
- Dinghy racing: dinghy policies most often cover races.
- Motorboats racing: the insurance is not included in the proposed policies, it is necessary in the great majority of the cases to subscribe to an insurance proposed by the organizers of the race, specific to the event.
How can I value my boat to get boat insurance?
When you take out a boat insurance you have to estimate the value of the boat because the value of the contract is directly derived from it.
Overall it depends on the model of the age, the state of conservation, but also on the equipment of the boat, the type of engine, the place of storage of the boat (the transport can put off many buyers!).
By going on the internet you can get an approximate idea of the value of your boat but be aware that this is not an exact science, much less than the value of a car! This is why we recommend that you call upon an expert who will precisely evaluate your boat and who will considerably simplify the steps with your insurer (as we explained above, some insurers impose the use of this type of expert).
How storing my boat can affect boat insurance premium?
How you boat is stored will often have an impact on the price of your insurance as it will affect security criteria as well as boat’s maintenance. You can choose between:
- Indoor storage: which is definitely the safest and the best option (sheltered from the weather). It brings the most security against theft but also against bad weather and external aggressions. Either on a dry stack storage in a marina (more restrictive schedules and you have to pay normal), or if you want to do it at home (if you have the space) you need a good protection system because boats are the target of many thefts. These protection systems must meet precise criteria from the insurers. Some insurers even impose protection systems to make sure that it meets their requirements.
- Outdoor storage. Although less optimal (because more exposed to the vagaries of nature and less protected from theft), this solution is also suitable. You can store it on land, for example at home if you have a plot of land that allows it. This solution requires adequate protection of the boat for the winter (protection of the engine from frost and rust, removal of valuable components, use a suitable cover). Otherwise you can leave it moored in a port or marina, this solution will allow you to dispose of your boat quickly at any time of the year. On the other hand, be very careful of damage caused by corrosion, algae, if you are in an area where the water is likely to freeze in winter this method of storage can seriously damage your boat. In addition, the costs can be considerable.
If you store your boat improperly, you risk not being covered by your insurer against material damage!
As you can imagine, situations can vary enormously and each contract is unique. So to better suit your particular requirements, there are a large number of options that you can add to your initial policy to ensure that you only pay for what you need. You have for instance frost cover, war cover, personal effects cover, trailer cover, transit cover … It all depends on the premium you chose and what you want covered!
Are you planning to use a trailer to transport your boat? There are options to cover these trailers, which are often quite valuable against theft or accidents. Be aware that depending on the insurer, the coverage can vary as well as the type of trailers covered. So remember to address this issue to avoid any disappointment if an accident occurs.
Verify that our policy includes uninsured boaters, otherwise take an option in case of risk (zone or third party insurance is not mandatory).
In order to navigate on inland waterways in the UK it is necessary to have an inland waterways license. The money made on these licences is used to maintain UK inland waterways.
In order to avoid your boat being confiscated by the authorities you necessarily a licence but don’t worry obtaining such a licence is very simple! You only need to have a Boat Safety Certificate and a third party liability insurance that includes 2 million pounds minimum. Don’t worry, such a policy is very affordable!