What everyone ought to know about insuring a boat

Photo: Florida Fiash and Wildlife

You've just got your dream boat. A marine surveyor checked it over, you got it taxed and there's a lovely mooring spot down on the harbour that you managed to secure. Don't let some unforeseen disaster ruin any of that for you. Boat insurance can save you a lot of heartache and anxiety in the long run.

Before you go ahead and buy boat insurance from the lowest bidder, there are some things that you need to know.

In the UK, you must have "third party" insurance of at least £1 million if you own a powered boat. This insurance is to cover against any damage that you may cause to other people and their property. Throughout the EU the amount recommended by marinas and harbours for third-party coverage is £3 million. Because there is so much variation from country to country, be sure to check out the laws in your country to make sure that you meet all the requirements.

A good policy will cover "all risks". This means that normally what isn't covered will be listed instead of what is. As far as policies go, these usually make for the most comprehensive and full covers, to protect you against theft, vandalism, fire, sinking or collision. All sorts of accidents can happen at sea, so it is best to be prepared for anything.

One other thing to think about if your policy covers is rescue and towing. If the worst happens and you need some help at sea, check your local areas to see if emergency services are provided, or if your insurance will cover rescue costs for you.

When it comes to insurance, you must pay attention to the details. If you're living aboard your boat, you should make sure that the contents of your "home" are also covered by your insurance. In some cases, this may not be the case. If you're planning on racing your boat, you may need different, specialised insurance for that. You will have to check if your policy covers you in that case. Does your insurance still cover you while you're sailing out into other EU countries? Be aware of all the details.

Not all policies will cover everyone who uses your boat. You should always ask and find out who is covered when operating your boat. It is often the case that only the owner is covered, so if you wish to have other people in the driver's seat then you should make sure that is covered by your insurance.

If you're constructing your boat yourself, either restoring or it or from a shell, your insurance will need to be of the type that is specifically for boats under construction. Many companies will list this separately to their main offerings, so you may need to seek it out.

As with all insurance quotes, you should shop around before you commit. Get quotes from different companies and you can leverage one offer against the other. When you're looking for insurance you can save yourself a bundle with just a little bit of time. It's important to remember that competition breeds good deals, so utilise that competition between insurance companies to your advantage whenever possible.

Owning a boat is an expensive affair. It can get much, much more expensive with emergency repairs, or even replacements, if you have to pay them out of pocket. Insurance is your buffer against this to keep you, and your investment, protected.

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