If you've just bought a dinghy or are thinking about changing insurance companies, Noble Marine's Guide to insuring your dinghy may help you decide the sort of policy you need.
Both the cover provided by different Insurance Companies, and the service they offer, can vary greatly. Bear in mind that a cheaper policy may end up costing you more, if you have to make a claim and you should always check what cover is being offered before signing up.
Q. What should I look out for?
A. Everyone's needs are different, and only you can decide if wider cover is important to you. It is essential though, to understand what is being offered to you, before being able to make an informed decision.
Third Party Liability - You should not consider going afloat without liability insurance, which will cover you if you cause damage to another boat or worse still cause injury. The industry standard provides a limit of ?2,000,000 and should be sufficient to sail in the UK. Many Insurers now offer a policy providing ?3,000,000 worth of cover.
Racing Risks - Most policies will provide cover for racing as standard, but some insurers may charge you an additional premium. If you race without paying the additional premium you may not be covered.
New-For-Old cover - This will replace damaged items with new, but check whether there is an age limit on your equipment. For instance if you were to break a ten year old mast, some companies would replace this with a new mast of equivalent specification, others would only pay out what they considered to be the mast's value at the time of loss, leaving you to fund the difference.
Policy Excess - You will be required to pay the first ?x of any claim.
Comprehensive Cover - will provide cover for your boat against accidental damage, theft, fire and vandalism.
Q. Do I need to use a specialist marine insurance company?
A. No - Many High Street Insurance Brokers will be able to arrange your insurance, but they may not have the necessary expertise to advise you correctly.
Q. How can I be sure the insurance company I choose is reliable?
A. Your policy is only as good as the service you receive if you have to submit a claim. Why not speak to your fellow sailors, for their comments regarding which insurers provide good (or bad) service to their clients.
With effect from 14th January 2005, it is a legal requirement that any company providing an insurance policy, must be authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
Q. Why do I need third party cover?
A. ?2,000,000 Third Party Liability is usually compulsory if you are to sail in the UK and you should not consider sailing without this cover as a minimum. A policy providing third party liability, should cover you if you were to cause damage to property or injury to another person, with your boat.
Cover is normally provided for a named boat, and therefore another person sailing your boat, with your permission, would also be covered, however you must check your policy if you are unsure. It is unlikely that you are covered to sail any boat under this policy and if you are borrowing another boat, you should always check with a boat's owner that you are insured to sail it.
Third party risks whilst in transit would be EXCLUDED as this is normally covered by your motor insurance policy.
Q. Should I expect a standard policy to cover me while I'm not sailing (ie, when my boat is sitting in the drive or while I'm travelling?)
A. Comprehensive policies should cover your boat against accidental damage, theft, fire and vandalism, whether in use or not; however there may be restrictions on your policy. Boats should be securely tied down, trailers locked and / or immobilised when not in use, and equipment stored beneath your cover or taken home after use, if possible. It is relatively common for mice, rats or other rodents to make nests in your sails if stored in your boat.
If they do, your sail will become eaten and stained. Not all insurance policies will cover this eventuality.
Q. Would my trolley and trailer be covered?
A. Most policies can be extended, by payment of an additional premium, to include these items. Claims would be limited to either the market value at the time of loss or the sum specified on the Policy Schedule whichever is the lesser amount. It may be a requirement of the policy that trailers are immobilised and / or locked when not in use.
Q. To what extend would my equipment be covered on a standard policy (ie, sails, spars etc)?
A. Some insurers will only pay claims based on a percentage of the new replacement cost of your mast spars or sails, dependant on its age, leaving you to fund the difference. Typically, insurance companies will only pay two thirds of the replacement price on equipment over three years old.
The dinghy insurance policy offered by Noble Marine will pay the full replacement cost of your mast, spars or sails, damaged beyond repair, irrespective of age. All you need to pay is your policy excess.
Q. Does it matter who is in charge of my boat?
A. The majority of insurance policies will allow anyone to sail your boat with your permission, however it would be prudent to check this first. If you receive money in return, i.e. the boat is being chartered or hired; this may invalidate your policy.
Q. What is legal protection?
A. Upon payment of an additional premium, some insurance policies can be extended to include legal representation if your boat is involved in a collision or other accident and you suffer financial loss or injury. If you are injured, it is even more important that you receive expert help so that any claim for damages is pursued quickly and efficiently.
Q. What about cover for sailing abroad?
A. This will vary, depending on the policy you have chosen. Always check with your insurance company before taking your boat abroad. Noble Marine's clients automatically have cover for 30 days use in Europe each year. If your sailing takes you outside Europe for short periods of time, or your boat will be in Europe in excess of 30 days per annum, then it may be possible to extend the cover accordingly.
Q. What should I do in the event of a claim?
A. You should always submit your claim as soon as possible after an accident. After all, the faster you make the claim, the faster you can get back on the water.
Any incidences of theft or criminal damage should be reported to the police - remember that you'll need the Crime Reference Number for the claim form.
You will be required to provide at least one estimate for the repairs, or a written quote for the replacement items if a repair is not possible. Your Insurer may ask to inspect any equipment damaged, before authorising its replacement.
Stolen boats should be listed by your insurance company, free of charge, on the new www.stolenboats.org.uk website.
Q. How quickly should I expect to have my claim sorted?
A. This will depend on which insurance company you use and their speed of response. It can also depend how quickly your repairer can provide a quotation and then carry out the necessary repairs. It is Noble Marine's intention is to respond to you within two working days, advising how to proceed, so you'll know exactly where you stand, and how soon you can expect to be back on the water.
All Dinghy Policies provided by Noble Marine include:
?3,000,000 Third party liability for anyone using your boat with your permission. No excess is payable on third party only claims.
Accidental damage, theft, fire and vandalism.
Damage to the boat (and your trolley and trailer if specified on the policy) whilst in transit, but excluding third party liability in transit, as this should be covered by your vehicle's policy.
New for Old Cover - Your mast, boom, rigging and all sails are insured on a New-For-Old basis. If any of these items are lost, damaged beyond repair or stolen, we will pay the cost of new replacement item, less the policy excess. No deduction is made for depreciation.
Full cover for Racing
Comprehensive All Year Round Cover - 12 months cover for all inland and coastal waters of the U.K. and up to one month's use in Europe. It may be possible, to extend this cover either for use outside Europe or for more than one month's use within Europe.
Cover for sails damaged by vermin
Patrick Altoft is a marine insurance broker with Noble Marine.
Instant cover and online insurance quotations for most classes of pleasure craft can be obtained via http://www.noblemarine.co.uk