If you own or operate a boat or other marine craft, marine insurance can cover you for loss, damage, theft or injury risks to your craft and its occupants, as well as any costs you may incur to other people or property through accidental damage.
Many insurers will offer boat or marine craft insurance that includes basic cover for damage or loss, with a range of additional options available. Some specialist boat insurers and brokers can cover boat owners for less common insurance risks and activities.
Boats and other marine craft can be expensive assets, and if you accidentally damage another boat or marine infrastructure you could face significant financial costs. For most boat owners, marine insurance is a necessity.
Similarly to motor insurance, marine insurance policies will specify either an agreed value or a market value as the sum insured for the boat and equipment you own.
What am I covered for?
Marine insurance usually includes a component for physical damage, which covers your boat, motor and associated equipment (such as a trailer) against a range of risks which might include theft, fire, vandalism, accident and storm damage.
Some policies include an additional option to take out extra medical coverage in case of injury or accident, while others will include medical expenses within the policy.
If you, or a passenger on your boat, accidentally injure another person or property, liability coverage will pay associated financial costs. Different policies have different limits to liability coverage, so make sure you understand exactly how much you are insured for before you take out a policy.
When you are looking at marine insurance, make sure that everything you want covered is included in the policy. Where there are exclusions, check whether you can take out additional cover if you need to.
For example, you may want to make sure that your trailer is covered. Are you are covered for towing, in the case of your boat or trailer breaking down?
You should check whether personal effects on your boat are covered, such as fishing equipment, radar and other communications gear, mobile phones and cameras. Do you have coverage for injury caused to your boat or your passengers by another uninsured boater?
If you take part in marine racing, you need to make sure that the insurance that you take out covers you for this.
If you are part of a marine competition, it is possible that event organisers have a separate insurance arrangement. You should be aware of what cover you need to take out yourself, and what cover might be included in the entry fee that you pay to take part in the competition.
Third party only
Third party marine insurance policies cover the financial cost of any damage you might accidentally cause to other peoples boats or property.
You might choose this cover if your own boat is not very expensive, but you will be operating it on the open water where there is a risk you might accidentally run into someone else’s expensive boat.
Blue water and international coverage
Before you sign up for marine insurance, you need to be clear about how you will use your marine craft.
If you will be taking it into blue water – that is, into open seas more than 250 nautical miles from land, international waters or even travelling to another country – you will probably need to take out additional insurance and fill certain criteria related to offshore safety equipment and communications equipment.
There may also be restrictions around the time that you can travel into international waters, depending on known cyclone and storm seasons.
✓ Lay up – Reduced premiums when your boat is stored on a trailer for a nominated period
✓ Racing (sailboat) – Protect your sailboat against loss or damage during racing
✓ Cover for waterskiing or flotation devices – Liability cover for when you’re using waterskiing and flotation devices
✓ Contents – Cover for contents contained in your boat’s lockable cabin