Boat insurance for beginners

Whether you already own a boat, or you’re thinking of buying one, you will be excited at the idea of using your ‘pleasure craft’ during your camping or caravanning holiday. However, this excitement may be tempered by the thought of what insurance policy you may need for it. So, with this in mind, where do you start?

Is boat insurance a legal requirement?

Actually, it isn’t — boat insurance is not compulsory. In theory, it is perfectly fine to take your uninsured craft out on the water.

In practice, however, it is difficult to use a boat without insurance. For example, you will need it if you wish to use your boat on certain lakes and reservoirs, and it will almost certainly be a prerequisite for mooring your boat in a marina.

So, whilst you don’t legally need boat insurance, if you want to actually use it you’re likely going to have to take out a policy — depending on the requirements of the places where you intend to use it.

Why take out boat insurance?

When you take out a policy, your boat is insured against loss, damage, or theft. This applies whether you’re using inland and coastal waters in the UK or – for trips of up to 30 days – elsewhere in Europe.

If someone else damages your boat and it can be repaired, the cost of the repairs or replacement parts will be covered. If your boat is beyond repair – i.e. a total loss – you will receive a payment that reflects its market value or agreed value — the cover applies whether the damage or loss is deliberate or accidental.

Of course, damage isn’t always obvious: your boat could develop a fault that may not be flagged up during normal maintenance. With boat insurance, however, you’re covered for this, too.

When it comes to theft or damage, it’s not just the boat you have to worry about — you may have personal belongings on board. Having boat insurance means that certain contents are covered while you’re on your craft, such as water sports equipment (when it’s not being used).

What if you have an accident?

You will be especially concerned to know if you’re covered should you have an accident. With a boat insurance policy, you will have peace of mind: you don’t have to worry about paying for repairs if you strike a submerged object, for example, and water gets into your craft.

Should your boat run aground, the hull will need inspecting for damage. Alternatively, If your boat sinks, it will need salvaging. These are potential risks that are also covered by a boat insurance policy.

You need to think about your own safety, as well, if an accident happens. Taking out a policy means that compensation will be paid out if you suffer serious injury (loss of limb or sight), permanent disablement, or death — emergency medical bills are also covered.

What about third parties?

You also have to consider what happens if you cause injury to someone else, or cause damage to their property when you’re using your boat. Depending on the size of your boat, you may have friends or family aboard. You will therefore be pleased to know that the personal accident cover described above also applies to your passengers.

Beyond your immediate circle, you’re sure to encounter other holidaymakers whilst sailing, and there will be other boats in close proximity when you’re moored. The consequences of causing harm to another person or damage to their boat are severe. However, when you take out a policy, you’re covered for any compensation you have to pay out, as well as any legal costs incurred. You will also be covered in the event that you pollute a waterway — for example, if you strike a submerged object and your boat leaks oil.

Getting the right level of cover

Unlike a used car, a boat is not merely a way of getting from A to B. It’s a high-value purchase that adds something extra to your holiday, especially when you share the experience with family and friends. Therefore, should anything happen to you or your boat, and you’re not covered, your whole holiday experience could be tarnished.

For this reason, although it’s actually possible to take out just a third party policy, you should seriously consider taking out a full policy. However, even this may not cover all eventualities.

For example, are you using your boat for water-skiing? If you’re towing someone who’s on water-skis, mono-skis, or a kneeboard, make sure you take out an extension to your policy to cover the cost of your legal liabilities to them, as well as their own legal liabilities.

Are you planning to race your boat? If so, you will need racing cover, which will be useful if parts such as masts and sails get damaged during a race.

It’s imperative that you have the correct level of cover, so when you take out your policy, make sure you specify your needs. This will help you to keep the cost of your premium down, too: what you pay will be affected by not only the age and type of your boat, but also by your storage arrangements, and where you plan to use your boat.

For instance, it will cost more to insure a brand new speedboat that you plan to use on the Mediterranean than an old rowing boat you’re taking to the Lake District. However, fitting an alarm and a GPS tracking device to your speedboat and storing it in a marina is better for security than storing it on your drive — and increased security also means a lower premium.

For more information, call Club Care Insurance now to get your boat policy with a no claims bonus of up to 25 percent.