A Short Guide to Sailing Boat Insurance

Whether you just enjoy leisurely cruising or love competitive racing, getting the right sailing boat insurance for your needs is important. This guide is designed to help you understand not just the types of sailing boat insurance available, and their associated limits, but also what you can do to help reduce the cost of your cover.

What types of cover are available?

There are two types of cover which will normally be at the core of a sailing boat insurance policy:

Sailing Boat

  • Vessel Loss or Damage: This can provide cover for the cost of loss or damage to your sailing boat arising from a range of causes such as accident, theft, fire, and storm. You can usually choose the level of cover you want, which should reflect the full cost of you replacing your sailing boat with an equivalent craft. Depending on the value of your sailing boat, you may also have the option to arrange cover on a market value or agreed value basis, with the premium, and the amount payable in the event of a total loss, varying based on the option you select.
  • Third Party Liability: This can help protect you from liabilities you may incur to other people for death, injury or property damage arising from the use of the sailing boat. Most companies will only allow a pre-determined level of cover, but some will allow you to choose a value, with the premium varying accordingly. While having liability cover is not a legal requirement in the UK for most leisure boats, it may be required if you wish to navigate certain waterways / territorial waters, or to use a commercial marina.

In addition to the above, there are a range of other covers related to sailing boat insurance, further details of which can be found by clicking the links below:

Many insurance providers bundle up the different types of sailing boat insurance into a single package, but this can result in owners paying for cover they may not want or need. An alternative therefore is to look for a provider which lets you choose the cover you want, as well as letting you vary your cover as your needs change over the year.

What are common exclusions or restrictions on sailing boat insurance?

The specific exclusions on your sailing boat insurance will vary according to what types of cover you have selected. However, most policies will have a set of general exclusions such as for:

  • Use of the sailing boat for an illegal or non-permitted purpose.
  • Use of the sailing boat outside the geographical limits of the policy.
  • Wear, tear, depreciation, or similar deterioration of the sailing boat.
  • A failure to ensure the sailing boat is properly manned and maintained in a seaworthy condition.
  • Reckless acts by anyone in charge of the sailing boat.
  • Damage by Insects, vermin, barnacles, marine growth, corrosion, rot, rust etc.

Similarly, for the sailing boat insurance to operate the insurer will require you to:

  • Take reasonable steps to look after the sailing boat and ensure anyone using it is competent to do so.
  • Ensure that if the sailing boat is moored, it is in a safe, properly maintained location.
  • Comply with any regulations relating to the safe operation of the sailing boat.
  • Take reasonable steps to ensure information you provide to them is accurate and current.
  • Always be honest in your dealings with them.

As such exclusions and requirements can vary between insurers, make sure you check the policy terms when arranging cover.

Where do I need my sailing boat insurance to operate?

Sailing Boat

The first consideration in terms of where you want your sailing boat insurance to operate is what is your intended cruising area. These are the geographical areas and waterway types within which you plan to use your sailing boat, and therefore where you wish to be covered. Most companies will require you to select an area from a drop-down list of broad options, although a more modern innovation is to allow you to map the precise area for which you require cover.

The second consideration is where will your sailing boat be kept when it is not in use. This will usually be at a mooring location, in which case what type of mooring in involved and who has access to it may be considered. Alternatively you may keep your sailing boat out of the water, in which case factors such as the type of premises in which it is kept and how it is stored will come in to play.

What can I use my sailing boat for?

The permitted uses under a sailing boat insurance policy will usually include as standard, use of the vessel for ‘private and pleasure’ purposes, although this may exclude certain activities such as racing or any commercial usage. However, depending on the provider, it may be possible to extend cover to include uses such as for:

Who can use my sailing boat?

As with most forms of transport (cars, aircraft etc), much of the risk associated with a sailing boat does not come from the vessel itself but the person in control of it. However unlike cars and aircraft, there is usually no licencing requirement when it comes to who can use a sailing boat. Insurers are therefore increasingly looking for other indications of experience when calculating premiums, such as:

  • Who will be permitted to use the sailing boat?
  • How much general boating experience do they have?
  • How much experience do they have specifically on sailing boats?
  • What qualifications do they hold and how applicable are they to sailing boat use?

What this does mean is that owners who are prepared to restrict who can be in control of the sailing boat to relatively experienced, well qualified users, will tend to benefit from lower premiums.

How can I keep my premium down?

The cost of your sailing boat insurance will be determined by a wide variety of factors, not least of which being who you buy your cover off and how much flexibility they offer, both in terms of cover options and the discounts they give when calculating the premium. Amongst the actions which you can take to keep your premium down are:

Sailing Boat

  • Try to gain one or more relevent sailing boat qualifications.
  • Restrict those who you allow to be in control of the sailing boat to experienced users only.
  • Ensure that you have good physical security on your sailing boat.
  • Keep your sailing boat in a safe, secure location when it is not in use.
  • Consider arranging a higher excess on the ‘vessel loss and damage’ section of your policy.
  • If your sailing boat insurance provider offers flexibility in terms of the different covers available, only select those that you need.
  • Unless you know you will be using your sailing boat for racing or charter, you may not need to include cover for such use from the start of your policy, you can always add it later when you are sure you need it.
  • Similarly, only select the cruising area where you know you will be using the sailing boat. If you need to use it elsewhere during the year you can always extend the cover later.
  • If your circumstances change, such as you no longer need a cover option, or you no longer need cover for an inexperienced user, consider updating your policy immediately rather than waiting until your next renewal.
  • Watch out for ‘hidden’ charges such as administration fees to increase your cover.

Spending a little more time thinking about the cover you want, and giving your insurance provider a little more information about you and your sailing boat, may well result in you cutting the cost of your sailing boat insurance.

How can we help you to keep the cost of your sailing boat insurance down?

There are many ways in which Visicover can help you to keep the cost of your sailing boat insurance down:

Sailing Boats

  • Rather than bundle different types of sailing boat insurance into a single package, resulting in you possibly paying for cover you may not need, we let you choose the cover you want.
  • We offer a wide range of discounts, such as rewarding experienced owners or those with relevent qualifications, as well as those who take care of their sailing boat when it is in use and when it is not (e.g. ensuring it has good physical security and is kept in a safe location).
  • You can spread the payment of your premium over nine months at no extra cost.
  • We know that owner’s requirements can change over time, which is why we enable them to update their cover online whenever they want, usually with no administration fee.


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