• >
  • Boat insurance>
  • Guides>
  • What is boat insurance?

What is boat insurance?

Matt Fernell photo
Written by Matt Fernell, Financial Content Writer

11 January 2019

Whether you have a yacht, narrowboat or dinghy you need to make sure it is protected on water or land. Here is everything you need to know about boat insurance.


What does boat insurance do?

It can protect you financially if your boat is stolen or damaged. It can also cover you if you damage someone else's property.

If you have spent thousands of pounds on your boat, a good insurance policy could save you a lot of money if you need to make a claim.

Do you need boat insurance?

You do not legally need boat insurance in the UK, but it gives you valuable protection if you have an accident.

There are 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

  • Getting an inland waterways boat licence

  • Sailing in other countries

What boats can you cover?

  • It is possible to find insurance for:

  • Yachts

  • Motorboats

  • Rigid inflatable boats (RIBs)

  • Jet skis

  • Narrowboats

  • Rowing sculls or skiffs

You may also be able to find cover for dinghies, speedboats and catamarans or if you go windsurfing.

What does boat insurance cover?

Most boat insurers offer comprehensive policies that should protect you against the following risks:

Accidental damage

This covers the loss or damaging of your boat 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.

Loss or damage of personal belongings

You will be covered against any physical loss or damage to your personal possessions while they are on your boat. 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.

Third party liability

This means you will be covered if you cause:

  • Damage to another boat or property

  • Death or injury to another person

  • Pollution

  • 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.

Personal accident

This will cover you, or anyone else on your boat if you have an accident that results in:

  • Death

  • 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 while using your boat.

Common boat insurance exclusions

All boat insurance policies contain exclusions you need to be aware of before you buy cover, for example:

  • Some insurers only cover you while you are afloat if you are a certain distance from shore, for example 12 nautical miles offshore of the UK or Europe.

  • Most policies will not cover the cost of repairing wear and tear, gradual breakdown or corrosion.

  • Any damage caused while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will not be covered.

  • You may not be covered if damage is caused while your boat is being used for commercial use, unless this has been agreed with your insurer.

  • Most claims for theft will be rejected if you have left your boat unlocked or unattended.

Make sure you check the policy carefully for all exclusions so you can be confident any claim you make will be accepted.

How can you get boat insurance?

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. 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 costs, including any trailers, life rafts and boat equipment like life jackets and buoyancy aids you also want to cover.

How to get cheaper boat insurance

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 qualifications 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.