If you own a boat, it’s important it’s insured against damage to the boat, yourself and other people or property. In fact, while boat insurance isn’t typically a legal requirement, you may need to have it under certain circumstances, such as to keep it in a marina.
There are lots of different levels of cover available, so you need to do your research carefully. Here’s everything you need to know including the types of insurance you can get and how to get a good deal.
The right boat insurance can protect you financially if your boat is stolen or damaged. It can also cover you if you damage someone else's property or cause an injury.
If you have spent thousands of pounds on your boat, a good insurance policy could save you a lot of money if something goes wrong.
You do not legally need boat insurance in the UK to own a boat, but it gives you valuable protection if you have an accident.
There are also some circumstances when you have to get insurance, including:
Getting marine finance to buy your boat
Racing or chartering your boat
Keeping your boat in a marina or harbour
Sailing in other countries
It is possible to find insurance for:
Rigid inflatable boats (RIBs)
Rowing sculls or skiffs
You may also be able to find cover for dinghies, speedboats and catamarans.
Most boat insurers offer comprehensive policies that should protect you against the following risks:
This covers the loss of your boat or damage as a result of fire, theft, accident or malicious damage.
Most policies cover your boat when it is:
Ashore (for example in storage or on your driveway)
In transit by road
Afloat on inland and coastal waters
Boat insurers usually pay up to the current market value of your boat if it is damaged beyond repair, or if the cost of repair would be more than its current value.
You will be covered against any physical loss or damage to your personal possessions while they are on your boat. But your items will only be covered against accident, fire, theft or malicious damage.
Most cover personal belongings up to a set limit, for example, £1,000 for all items, with a single item limit of around £200.
This means you will be covered if you cause:
Damage to another boat or property
Death or injury to another person
Any other financial losses
Most insurers offer up to £3 million for third-party liability.
Some insurers offer third-party only policies, which will cover the above, but not any damage to your boat or your personal belongings, but they can be cheaper.
This will cover you, or anyone else on your boat if you have an accident that results in:
Loss of limb
Loss of sight
A permanent disability that prevents you from working
Some insurers will pay up to £60,000 if you suffer from any of the above as a result of an accident on your boat.
All boat insurance policies contain exclusions you need to be aware of before you buy cover. Typical things to look out for include:
Make sure you check the policy carefully for all exclusions so you can be confident any claim you make will be accepted.
It is important to notify your boat insurance provider where you plan to keep the boat when you’re not cruising. That might be moored on a canal bank, in a boatyard or on dry land.
If your boat is only kept in the water for part of the year, your insurer will likely need to know the address it is kept at and the means of storage the rest of the time.
You may find it more difficult to get cover if you travel in your boat year-round and have no fixed mooring or address, but specialist insurers may still be able to cover you. This may be more expensive, so you need to shop around.
When you apply, you will be asked several questions about your boat. This is so the insurer can get an accurate picture of your boat’s condition, what you will be using it for, and how secure it is when you’re not sailing in it. They will ask you:
The type of boat you want to insure
The age of your boat
The size of your boat
What your boat is made of
Where your boat will be kept
How you use your boat, for example, pleasure, racing or charter
You will also be asked to confirm how much your boat is worth, including any trailers, life rafts and equipment like life jackets and buoyancy aids you also want to cover under a policy.
Boat insurance can be costly. Shopping around is one way to make sure you’re getting a good deal, but there are other things you can do to keep costs down. For instance, the cost of your boat policy could be reduced by:
Gaining qualifications: If you have taken any sailing courses and gained helmsman, skipper or yachtmaster tickets it could reduce the cost of your cover
Building a no claims bonus: If you have not made any claims on your previous boat insurance policies it could earn you a discount in the same way as car insurance
Keeping your boat safe: If you can keep your boat in a marina berth you could get a lower premium because of the improved shelter and security