The Ultimate Guide to Boat Insurance
Buying into an expensive hobby or investing in a leisurely pursuit often comes with hidden costs.
Buying a boat is not an exception. Along with the initial outlay, there’s the maintenance, storage or mooring, additional equipment and of course the inevitable cost of repairing damage over time or indeed a replacement.
Cars, homes, contents all require insurance these days either by law or through necessity. Boat insurance in most cases is a legal requirement, but which level of insurance for your boat is entirely down to you. Within the following article we hope you find the answers you require when looking to compare boat insurance, no matter which sport or leisure activity your boat falls into.
The obvious queries will arise, fully comp or third party, will you need trailer insurance and should you shop around for the best area for moorings for lower premiums or store the boat on land. Insurance also varies between boats used for sport with jet skis in tow or plain sailing with a yacht.
You will also need to nail down the values of your boat, dinghy or barge and provide valuations on the hull, equipment and trailer and consider if you need additional insurance for contents you store on board or will use out on the open seas. So before you start comparing the insurance quotes, get all the details ready beforehand.
Just as with any other insurance product, you will be presented with offers if you have a no claims bonus or are taking out a new policy. Discounts are always thrown in but you need to decipher which insurance you actually need or if you’re covered for certain eventualities under another existing insurance policy.
We will take a brief overview of cover available for jet ski, narrow boat, dinghies, windsurfing, fishing boats and motor cruisers, as well as commercial activities involving running events for instance towing an inflatable banana or offering services to the public.
Compare the best boat insurance online, look for the best deals, seek out as many quotes from as many brokers as possible. Especially consult those who offer specialist insurance that meet your needs. If your boat sinks, will it be recovered? If there’s a fire while it’s on the trailer, does the car insurance cover for the accident or the trailer insurance? Do you need both or less cover?
Whether you’re seeking out jet ski insurance or laser insurance or simply a little more cover for your kayaking activities while out on the river. Peruse the details below and select the best insurance coverage for your sport, hobby or pursuit. It’s always beneficial to look for the cheapest premiums but not if the payouts don’t match the requirement in the event of a claim.
Fully Comprehensive Or Third Party
By law most large boats like yachts or narrow boats need to have proof of third party insurance before you can set sail on canals, estuaries, inland rivers and moor at harbours. This is handled via license from the British Waterways, Environment Agency and the Broads Authority. Simply put, at the very basic level you need to have third party insurance in place for your vessel.
Now many people get confused as to the difference between fully comprehensive and third party insurance, especially once they find out about the parts that make it different. Simply put, third party insurance is a requirement as it covers the third person and offers you liability protection. If you are at fault in an accident, it covers repairs and personal injury to the opposing party.
Here’s the catch. It doesn’t offer you any cover whatsoever when it comes to your own needs or your own boat’s repairs. So what’s the point of third party insurance over fully comprehensive? Well if you have a boat that is old or on its last legs, or a lower valued item that you use as a fishing boat, you may not be too concerned at losing several hundred pounds compared to the insurance premiums you would need to pay.
So in these instances it’s perfect, you get to abide by the law and save loads by not paying out on cover you don’t need. It’s worth remembering however that should your boat sink, you are legally obliged to pay for salvage costs or there would be boats strewn in waterways all over the place. There is, like car insurance an option for an additional insurance policy for your boat which covers theft and fire.
Buying this will ensure should the worst happen and your vessel is stolen or catches fire, that the third person involved in the incident is covered as well as repairs or replacement is insured against. The most popular and of course the most convenient is however the most expensive. Fully comprehensive insurance against all eventualities while you are at the helm and when you’re not.
So when you drill down all the parts. If you have a boat that isn’t worth much or can be easily replaced or salvaged and the costs absorbed, only buy the insurance you’re legally obliged to. Don’t fall into a trap of buying content insurance or small vessel insurance for a tenner a year when it’s just a token gesture like mobile phone insurance when it is on contract.
Before you purchase third party insurance, check with the local authority as to whether you firstly need a licence or you’re exempt and whether you need insurance before you apply. Then if you do and your boat is worth much more than ten years worth of monthly premiums, consider a fully comprehensive boat policy to cover all the bases and eventualities.
Ascertaining Values Of Hull, Equipment And Trailer Before Buying A Boat
Before you buy into a sport or boat model you should first look into insurance quotes. If you can’t handle high premiums then you will probably have to reconsider the purchase of a £50,000 yacht and aim at a boat that is more reasonably priced or one that is second hand.
Whether you’re buying a new or a used boat, insurance brokers have already compiled and update regularly a used boat price guide which envelops everything from hull, sails and equipment to the boat as a whole, taking into account age, cost of repairs made locally or replacement.
So while you need to have details to hand, you don’t actually require detailed knowledge of the value of the hull or parts within a boat just the overall outlay on the yacht or boat and the equipment. However it is recommended that you have at least an initial idea so you know that the insurance policy you are taking out will cover the cost of repair of parts and will enable you to compare and shop around. Knowledge, as always, is king.
Within each boat category, from kayaks to narrowboats and yachts there are many manufacturers, Aberking and Rasmussen, Citation or Hebridean and so on. Each have been previously assessed by the insurance house as to risk and valuation of parts. Once you have an idea on which boats you are looking to choose from, simply complete an online insurance form and seek out how much the insurance premiums might be.
You will be asked to enter a total value of the sums to be insured plus any equipment. For this you will need receipts as any values above £250 will require a specific valuation by the underwriters and proof of purchase that will need to be matched by their own database.
If you paid above market value for equipment or it was custom made, you will need to prove the additional value or your premiums will suffer. Even worse, if you fail to provide accurate costings, your final cover may not meet the cost of repair or replacement.
The same valuations by underwriters will apply to the trailer coverage. Trailer insurance can often be met by your current car insurance, but it’s worthwhile checking the policy to find out which situations are covered and if the specific trailer is insured for the yacht or jet ski you’re towing, there may be exemptions.
Again, the small print and devil in the detail may save you money whatever the outcome. Ensuring you pay the market price for items before you buy is a sure way to receive cheaper insurance premiums in the long run. However many who sail do get custom work done on their boats which an underwriter will need to be made aware of and will be priced accordingly.
Cover For Personal Effects and Belongings On Board
A lot of people skip contents insurance hoping it falls under their own home insurance policy simply because there is no real automated process for getting an online insurance quite for contents insurance on a boat. Home insurance differs in that respect in that whole valuables come under one distinct replaceable sum, however a boat opens up a new territory of risk.
When look to gain insurance cover for contents aboard your oat or yacht, you really need to ensure you have a lot of details to hand before you apply. You will most likely be asked for receipts, valuations and photos of he objects you wish to have insured against theft, fire or if your vessel sinks and contents are irrecoverable.
Depending on your home content insurance, there are a range of items that should be covered when they are taking outside the safety of your own home. For instance bikes, mobile phone, laptops, mp3 player or cameras, but when it comes to more stationary items such as a cooker, bed, 40 inch television and lighting fixtures then you may well be looking for specialist boat contents insurance instead.
As with most most insurance policies you receive the value of the worth of the item in today’s money. So if you kitted out your yacht or boat with the very latest TV tech ten years ago, it’s a certainty it will be worth a lot less if you need to claim, so consider how much luxury you require on your boat and whether putting old home tech on the boat instead of brand new would be less of a risk.
Equipment may also fall under contents insurance depending on the individual boat policy you are buying. Oars, life jackets, buoyancy aids, sails, decking, GPS sat navs, computers and radios may well need additional coverage separate from that of the boat or yacht itself. Personal belongings would also stretch to your own fishing equipment and that of any third party who comes abroad and their gear too.
No Claims Bonus Entitlement And Keeping Payments Low
For some people buying insurance for any product is a minefield. There is a way that insurance can be tackled in much the same way as insurance houses tackle the problem of calculated risk, assessment and value of replacements. And that’s by using mathematics and slowly but surely eradicating the possibility of you becoming either a victim of a crime or the cause of an accident.
Using the same methods as insurance companies to calculate risk, you can help keep your insurance premiums low and ensure you pay cheaper boat insurance than had you not taken any pre-emptive steps first. If you have a no claims bonus from a previous insurer this will get you off to a good start, but what if you are young or entirely new to insurance application?
Boating requires a lot less paperwork than a car but that doesn’t mean you can’t take action to make yourself look like the most desirable insurance customer in the world. If you are taking your hobby seriously and your boat is worth a pretty penny, then consider taking a few training courses and obtaining proficiency certificates that are recognised by associations and the insurance companies themselves.
Insurance houses love experienced and trained people who know their sector, how to get out of any eventuality or tight spot thus saving a future claim or a bigger claim against the insurance policy in the future.
So get your Captain’s licence, learn about the waterways or gain proficiency in anything boat related from, the International Certificate for Operators of Pleasure Craft to RYA/MCA Coastal Skipper Certificate and BCU/UKCC 3 Star Inland (Kayak) Training & Assessment Certificate or any number of related certifications for your proposed sea fairing hobby.
Once your knowledge has been assessed and your capabilities of controlling the environment within your grasp, then security will be glanced over. There are three considerations when an insurance company decides upon which grade of risk you and your boat fall into. The postcode lottery, the storage or mooring option and the additional security options.
A quick check with insurance quote results online will return whether one harbour or mooring is considered more secure than another. A glance over their website will also inform about how secure their facilities are, as previously mentioned, cameras, night security guards, dogs etc. So choose the safest and the one with the least crime and the most security. Then comes your job to save more money and keep premiums low.
Much like owning a caravan, you can add additional security to your boat or lock up or garage or storage facility. Extra locks for cabin doors, garage doors, wheel locks for trailers, personal CCTV, mark equipment with license details, steering wheel locks, engine locks, any number of different security devices to help alert the insurance company to how efficient you are at deterring a crime from taking place, even a tarpaulin or boat cover shows insight.
Storage is also a determining factor when it comes to the boat ageing. Like our own skin, a boat needs work to keep it waterproof and out of the way of harm from natural surrounds. If your boating hobby is out of season or you’re not using the boat for long periods of time, consider a lock up or land storage. Lastly shop around and compare your boat insurance quotes online and take your time reading through the small print, make sure you’re buying the correct coverage and not paying for anything extra that you’re already covered for.
Additional Cost For Competitions And Racing
You would think on the open water that there isn’t much that can go wrong in the way of collisions, but anyone who is experienced or has been sailing a while knows only too well that the waterways and oceans are full of situations where marine cover comes in all too handy.
Especially when it comes to racing and sporting events. Which is why if you plan on taking part in a competition you should ensure you’re fully covered. Under any normal insurance policy for boats you are insured to a certain extent, however Masts, Spars, Sails, Running and Standing Rigging may not be.
When you apply for insurance for your jet ski, motor boat or sailing boat you should enquire as to any additional cover for racing. Masts topple on to other boats, hulls get scrapped, rigging is used more tenuously and overall the boat is pushed harder and faster in a more close knit space, meaning the risk of damage is much higher.
This is a situation which tends to get insurance companies a little edgy. Specialist sailing yacht insurance and other laser insurance for racing comes with a premium and you should also consider areas, continents and country coverage. Just as with a car, boats are not covered outside certain areas, so be sure that if you’re sailing to Spain or America that the insurance quote covers those journeys or an allotted time each year where coverage can be activated at no extra cost and is built in.
No matter what your intent when purchasing a vessel. If your hobby takes you into the direction of racing of a weekend, simply pick up the phone and ask if you can upgrade to cover your racing interest and ensure proper coverage. This may be more expensive than getting proper coverage from the outset, however there’s always the chance to compare racing yacht insurance at the next renewal.
In Transit Cover, On Shore Coverage And Where Boat Resides
Before getting into boating you naturally considered where you would keep your vessel when not in use. However there are a multitude of situations that might arise to show that it wasn’t such a straight forward decision. If you sail or use a fishing boat, you probably do so on a specific land locked lake. But from time to time you may wish to relocate to another lake or waterway which is where ‘in transit cover’ becomes beneficial.
While coverage for boats invariably exists while moored or on water, for damage from other boats or obstacles and banks, the insurance tends not to cover a car smashing into a trailer, masts scraping a low bridge but with in transit insurance inbuilt you can be sure that should any of those circumstances occur, that you will receive a full payout and immediate repair when required. This should be thoroughly considered alongside trailer insurance.
Much like home insurance, your insurance premiums and the amount you are quoted are subject to the area lottery. If the area your boat is set to reside in, whether on shore or in an harbour has a high crime rate for boat theft or vandalism, then you will pay more. A few tips to consider are; compare quotes for the same boats at different marinas, lakes or harbours – invariably one will be seen as less risk than another.
Check if the place you are storing your boat and vessel at full time has surveillance cameras and CCTV, additional gated areas, a security guard, pass entry and is generally more secure. With these additional details and research beforehand, you are almost guaranteed to receive a more favourable insurance quote. Consider on shore coverage as well if moving around a bit, again a completely different set of insurance risks pertain to a boat on a trailer than one situated on the water.
Yachts are typically measured based on their length, this is currently vessels over twenty seven feet long. If you plan on using the yacht in competitions, state this beforehand or when applying as the exclusions list will have you worrying endlessly.
Most of the exclusions are obvious and standard across most boating vessels but a few that pertain to yachts are; Loss or damage to masts, spars, sails and rigging whilst racing, unless previously agreed and sails split by wind or blown away unless spars are also damaged.
For the lonely captains among you, consider whether you’re insured if you take the yacht out on your own and for which periods of time and don’t forget to ensure coverage is European wide or further afield, just because France is next door, that doesn’t mean your insurance cover automatically covers you. Unless it states otherwise, your Yacht insurance will probably only cover you when in British waters so ask for extended cruising ranges cover.
All the usual policy details will be covered but check for at least a £3 million third-party liability, legal expenses cover, 24 hour helpline, and ensure cover for Cover for your hull, including superstructure fittings, machinery and equipment is mutually agreeable by both parties.
Narrowboat Insurance, Barges And Houseboats
Houseboat insurance is a little different from most other boat insurance policies in that depending on how you kit it out, the boat could be your home all year round or for at least long durations. This situations increases risk and opportunity of an accident occurring as well as heightened risk with internal water pipers bursting and gas explosions on board.
A normal narrowboat insurance policy will exempt several factors, those being wear and tear, corrosion, loss of value due to repair, age and typical use. All year round residency may strike you from certain narrowboat insurance quotes also, so be sure to tell the truth about its use and the coverage you actually require.
Other than that, coverage is pretty general and along the lines of most other quotes and policies. Several different levels from third party to all risk will insure against the following; Fire, lightning, explosion, Theft, malicious damage or Vandalism, Weather events, Freezing of machinery, Accidental loss or damage, Personal accident, breakdown and recovery assistance.
When applying for insurance, in many cases a BSS certificate will not suffice and a hull condition report may also be required. Check for interconnecting tidal stretch coverage and extended European country cover.
Rowing Boat Insurance And Scull Cover
Depending on whether you’re rowing or sculling for sport, coverage can be standard or with an increased premium. Also many rowing boats are used as commercial entities on lakes. If you are looking to offer your rowing boat for use by the public, you will need to get commercial coverage or specialist business boat insurance.
General coverage for your rowing boat will include Third party, Fire, lightning, explosion, Theft, malicious damage or Vandalism, Weather events, Accidental loss or damage, Personal accident and a twenty-four hour helpline. Rowing boat insurance is usually quite cheap but if looking to hire out, seek a commercial insurance option.
Jet Ski Insurance
Like most insurance, the insurers like to know where the jet ski will be stored when not in use. Be sure to sort this out before applying as they will ask before offering cover whilst your jet ski is in storage at an approved location. Jet skis are a little different from other water borne vessels in that they can be transported to many more locations more easily, to rivers, lakes and seas around the world.
A few notes to consider; allotted European cover or extended continental cover, ensure cover for jet ski and trailer against accidental damage while in tow – including in transit cover, fire and theft and an adequate third party liability jet ski insurance.
You will most likely allow friends to use your jet ski, getting adequate jet ski insurance in place for third part liability is essential, especially if you decide upon more commercial activities. Buy the personal accident cover for you and your passengers which is usually optional and cover for drivers under the age of twenty one. Which insurers require to be notified of.
Exclusions generally demand that there is no use of inflatables or commercial activity without first notifying the insurer and theft without property security being in place. And often found in the small print, check how far you can take your jet ski off shore, twelve miles is the listed limit with some insurers. Check if your home contents all risks policy covers for contents and equipment used with your jet ski while in Britain and abroad.
Laser insurance often comes with full racing risk coverage and covers damage to sails and spars and other parts and accessories without additional premiums. Thought you can shop around for the best comparisons online. New for old cover is the norm with boat insurance however check for limitations on values and age if on an annual policy.
Third party insurance is important with laser boat use due to the racing aspects and heightened risk of collision. A full comprehensive policy should cover your boat when I storage but check the policy details. Check for equipment and contents coverage with any laser insurance policy, you only get limited cover unless you specifically request a personal valuation from the underwriters after forwarding photos, receipts and other details. Join a laser boat club and enquire about a further discount.
Most windsurfing insurance quotes ave a varying degree of cover. It’s unfortunate but most will opt for the value coverage due to the amount of time a sailboard is spent in transport. Getting the right insurance cover against scratching bruising and dents is important over time. The bonus is third party use is usually covered as standard and again overseas coverage should be investigated. 30 days is standard but you may require more.
Dinghy Insurance – What are the options?
Dinghy insurance is one of the easiest to get upgrades or all inclusive insurance packages which cover racing and competitions. Should you decide to race after the policy is in place, one phone call and you should be covered. Lower level cover is more than appropriate if you don’t intend on racing in your dinghy.
Cover is usually for inland and coastal waters, in transit cover as standard and a variety of liability insurances can be built in. Legal expenses cover should also be looked into.
Your destination and use of the boat is often the first concern of an insurer and the insurance policy well match the risks of the area. No matter which insurance for boats you are after, the needs are distinctly different for a narrow boat than a speed boat. For instance if taking your speed boat off the coast of Spain or Africa you may encounter piracy, some insurers will include this at no extra cost so it’s worth comparing policies online.
Other parts of a policy which may also come as standard are; damage by vermin, auto coverage for tenders, outboards and trailers, extended road transit cover and cover for personal belongings. So whether you’re in the Caribbean or Mediterranean there are insurers who will work within the realms of your current policy without adding too many high premiums simply for venturing further north.
RIBS Insurance (Rigid inflatable boats)
Rigid inflatable boats are not the poor man’s motor boat cruiser, however they can come equipped as accessories to larger yachts and are more transportable to other locations while offering the ability to still tow a variety of fun toy products and skiers. So ensure any policy has adequate cover for those inflatable bananas , toy liability insurance and water skiing insurance.
Cover is usually for RIBs under nine feet long and you can opt for additional personal liability insurance for you and your passengers. Check for full cover on outboard motors and stern drives as well as accidental damage to your trailer. The usual boat exclusions can apply, one specification of most RIBs insurance quotes is no commercial use, so you’ll need to upgrade if that’s the case.
Aside from a Catamaran having two hulls instead of on, the insurance differs very little from any other single hull sea borne vessel. If you are using the catamaran for racing you will need to offer this information when you are seeking coverage as this will come at a premium. All in all, sails, masts, rudders cover will come at different levels and there will be optional contents insurance, crew liability insurance and third party insurance to consider.
Commercial Boat Insurance
If you accept money for any hire or rental period with regards to your boat or take the public for rides or to destinations on journeys which are not solely private then your liabilities begin to change and insurance companies see your activities as coming under a commercial boat insurance offering and not personal.
The personal liabilities change, the risk is heightened, more claims can be made on the one accident and third party liability can go through the roof, not forgetting legal expenses and costs to cover claims. So if yours is a passenger boat, a boat available to charter, a fishing boat or tug boat, water taxi or sightseeing vessel you will need commercial insurance for boats.
This specialist insurance covers; employer’s liability cover, crew liability and a whole range of liabilities through to personal belongings of any third party and damage or theft to accidental loss of life and injury to passengers and that of the boat by those passengers too.
Fishing Boat Insurance
Fishing boat insurance is a whole different kettle of.. excuse the pun. It most incidences the use of a fishing vessel will be a commercial activity and therefore a business concern. You will crew liability insurance, third party insurance, employee’s liability insurance and you will also need to have further details of your boat to hand. The material of the hull, cruising range, maximum speed and a correct valuation of all tools and equipment on board.
On top of that and all the usual hull damage cover, you will need to consider death cover, personal accident and personal injury as well as decide upon a leisure or commercial cover. a Maritime Management Organisation can advice on which category you fall into and whether you simply transport fishermen or whether you catch fish for sale at market and the exact species.
Motor Cruisers Insurance and Motor Boats
Motor boat insurance is pretty straight forward but has a few more options over and above your average boat essentials. For instance those with motor boats may travel further afield or require extended periods of cover overseas. Rather than getting two different insurance products in two different countries, for instance for your second home in Portugal, simply ask for cover from one of the two. This may come at an additional premium but you’ll be covered.
Again, like jet skis, motor cruisers are much wanted products and often stolen to order and never seen again. Additional security for your trailer with wheel locks and other on board locking devices may well be requested by your insurer. What would a cruiser be without water skiing, you’ll definitely need additional insurance to cover water skis and consider upping third party insurance cover also.
One failure of many motor boat insurance quotes is the inability to provide for denting, bruising and scratching while your boat is being transported, check if trailer, car or additional insurance can cover these aspects if it is an expensive model.
How To Get The Best Boat Insurance
As you can see from the individual and at a glance boat details above, depending on the boat you use, the activity surrounding it, who will use or be on board and whether it’s for private, hire or a commercial venture, insurance for boats is different right across the board.
To ensure the best coverage no matter which boat you use, simply remember security and safety is paramount, operating within the limits of insurance policy is very important and firstly to get the best and cheapest insurance premiums, compare online and scrutinise the small print of any insurance policy details before buying.
Insurance brokers are there to assist, if you ever get confused about particular parts of the cover they offer, simply pick up the phone and email. If you need specialist insurance but don’t wish to pay a premium, consult a variety of brokers and decide after they reply and take advantage of any discounts offered for adding security or paying annually or being a member of a boating club.