One of the problems many people have when getting started with sailing or boating is knowing what insurance to get, or even whether they need insurance at all. When you buy a car and plan to go out driving you know for a fact that you have to have insurance, although you have a number of choices as to what type of insurance you have, what is covered and how much excess you have to pay.
But when it comes to boating people are often a little more vague about things. Although there is no law which requires you to be insured when going out sailing, at least not in public waters (some private lakes or reservoirs may have specific requirements) it is highly inadvisable to head out in certain situations unless you do have a decent insurance policy to protect you.
Of course, if you have a small boat that’s only worth a few hundred pounds you may think that it’s not really worth paying a fortune on insurance. But of course there are two things to bear in mind – firstly there are third party costs to consider, and secondly, there’s your health to think of.
You might think to yourself that if you do experience some sort of disaster, and your boat is lost, that all you need to worry about is paying for a replacement boat. However, it’s important to realise that often there are costs involved if the boat needs to be recovered, or if there is a risk of oil or fuel leakage. Having a motorboat capsize with a full tank of fuel could be an expensive business since you will be responsible for both protecting the environment and for any rescue, recovery or cleanup operation necessary.
If you do have an accident and someone else’s boat is damaged you will be liable to pay for any repairs or replacements, and that could also be fiendishly expensive. I mean, imagine the following unfortunate scenario…
If you are sailing and abroad and have a health problem, or one of your crew has a health related issue you may need medical treatment. Travel insurance, health insurance and life insurance are often no good if you’re sailing or boating, and for this you may need a specific policy to cover any medical costs involved with your sailing.
Some home insurance policies do cover the boat, but not if it’s in water. If your boat is at home and is stolen or damaged you may be covered and if you are driving your car with the boat on a trailer behind you may find that either your home insurance or your car insurance covers it. But the moment your boat touches water it is highly likely that neither policy will be any good, and you will need a suitable sailing insurance policy instead.
There are many different sailing insurance policies to choose from, and it is important to be realistic about how much your boat is worth, where it will be kept, how often it is to be used and the locations in which it will be used. Yacht insurance is usually only required for vessels over 27 feet in length, but there are insurance policies for motor boats, dinghies, small craft and windsurfers. If you’re travelling in your yacht you can also get separate travel insurance which will cover you in these circumstances.