Boat Insurance: Safe on the water

There are many types of boat insurance available covering a diverse range of pleasure craft. There are policies for dingys, small crafts, speedboats, narrowboats, cruisers, houseboats, rowing boats, and yachts.

In fact almost any boat you can imagine.

Getting a policy will protect your boat against:

  • Third party liability – causing damage to another boat or injuring another person whilst afloat.
  • Accidental damage to the boat or any of its parts such as a mast. New-for-old-cover will replace any ruined items with new ones, provided they are under a certain age.
  • Fire, vandalism and theft.
  • Risks associated with racing boats. Some insurers will automatically include this in a policy, others will charge you an additional premium.

Like car insurance, it is compulsory to hold, at the very least, third-party boat insurance before you are allowed to sail on UK waters.

Standard cover for this insures to a limit of £2 million. It means, if you cause an accident to another boat or person while sailing, you can pay for the costs of repairing or replacing their boat and for any compensation. The cover provided is usually for the boat, so anyone else driving the boat – with your permission – would be insured automatically.

Comprehensive insurance covers your boat against accidental damage, theft, fire and vandalism whilst on the sea or when it’s not in use.

Claims are subject to an excess being paid. So the owner must pay a set amount towards repairs and replacements before the insurer pays the remainder.

Polices can be extended to cover trolleys or trailers used to transport boats. Other equipment such as sails or masts will most likely be covered as part of the insurance package but only a percentage of the replacement cost.

Reasons to have boat insurance

Put simply it is a requirement by law. If you fail to have a basic policy you are not allowed to sail on UK waters.

How to buy boat insurance

Dedicated boat insurance companies exist to provide policies for most types of boats listed above.
Different insurers provide different cover – so shop around. You can find most of the big boat insurers online. If you don’t want the hassle of researching the market, boat insurance brokers exist – they will search the market for you and will provide you with policies to match your needs.


Third party risks to boats are not covered while the boat is in transit and being towed by a car – this should come under motor insurance.

Many insurers will refuse to pay out for a claim if the boat is lost or stolen but the owner failed to lock or securely tie it down. Ensure your trailer is locked and immobilised when it’s not being used and equipment is not on show.

Some policies will not cover for rodents who make nests in sails – a common occurrence. Check your policy for this.

Check with your insurance company before sailing your boat abroad. Most policies automatically provide 30-days’ cover for use in European waters each year. You can extend your cover if you intend to sail for longer or go further afield than Europe.

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