6 of the Most Common Boat Insurance Claims & How to Avoid Them

Ultimately, insurance is an essential part of owning a boat, providing you with valuable protection to cover you should the worst happen. With so much time and money invested, unwarranted damage to your boat can be devastating.

Though we have sometimes received some very bizarre claims (don’t try and blame the Kraken), knowing what the most common boat insurance claims are can help you try to avoid them. Sometimes, taking a little bit of extra care and attention can make all the difference.


Theft from your boat

One of the biggest things to be aware of is theft from your boat. Often, people assume theft of the boat itself – but it’s actually the items and valuable equipment onboard that’s most easily accessible. When focussing on motor cruisers in particular, our claims department handle more theft of equipment claims than any other. Jet skis, outboards, fishing gear, electronics are just some of the things that are commonly stolen.

How to prevent it:
Use high-grade padlocks as a simple but effective deterrent. You should make an inventory list of all the items stored on your boat, including their individual serial numbers if available – MyBoat is the perfect tool for helping keep track of this. It is also worth tagging them with your personal ID details, limiting their resale value. Ideally, don’t leave any valuables onboard and definitely keep them out of sight and properly secured.

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Storm damage

As weather conditions change over the years, we’ve seen a rise in claims against storm damage. Heavier storms with high winds can cause devastating destruction to your boat. Strong winds can cause your boat to crash into docks, wharfs and the shore, which can lead to substantial damage.

How to prevent it:
Ensure you properly secure your boat when not in use – fenders can help to buffer the damage. You should also minimise windage and guard against chafe. Follow the marine forecasts and have a plan in place to visit your boat when there is a threat of severe weather incoming. Don’t leave it until the last minute. And it goes without saying – don’t venture out in bad weather conditions.


Boat Insurance Storm Damage

Boat capsizing or swamping

When a boat capsizes it can cause panic as well as damage with passengers overboard, so it’s worth doing everything you can to avoid it happening. Should your boat become swamped it can wreak havoc with the electrics and result in substantial repairs.

How to prevent it:
There are a number of things you can do to prevent capsizing, most relating to simple common sense guidelines. Don’t overload the boat’s capacity and make sure that the load of passengers and gear is balanced – don’t allow people to stand up or move around while the boat is in motion.

Keep as much water as you can out – if you lose this battle, the boat will be lost too. Every season, be sure to check all fittings like clamps and hoses below the waterline are secure. Also, ensure that your bilge pump is in correct working order.


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In most cases of collision claims, it’s damage caused by a collision with another boat rather than hitting stationary objects or nearby docks. Generally, this can be put down to a lack of experience and poor control of the boat from either party involved. Driving at high speeds and not paying enough due care mean that collisions can happen very easily and cause substantial damage.

How to prevent them:
The three key factors of collisions are distractions, blind spots and excessive speed. Don’t ever leave your steering on autopilot and reduce speed whenever you’re around other vessels.

It’s also worth brushing up on the rules of the road – when two power boats are approaching head-on, both should always pass port-side to port-side, for example. Do everything you can to prevent a collision, even if you are the ‘stand on’ vessel – be alert to your surroundings and make obvious change courses well in advance.


Fire on board

Though this isn’t a particularly common claim it can be one of the most substantial when it comes to financial payouts. This is mainly because fire damage often completely destroys the boat. The most common cause of fire is faulty wiring, whilst fuel issues cause explosions.

How to prevent them:
Regularly inspect the wiring on your boat to ensure it’s properly supported and secure and inspect the AC power inlets for any corrosion. Always have the correct number of fire extinguishers on board as legally required for the size of your vessel and check that they are in working order – get regular service reminders so that you know they’re always within their expiry dates.

 Boat Insurance CapsizeSource

Striking underwater objects

It can be very difficult to see what lies beneath the water – hence why we handle a lot of damage claims where a boat has hit something substantial. Whilst it doesn’t result in the total loss of the boat, it can cause damage that results in significant leaks – which is when it could turn into a sinking claim.

How to prevent it:
Having a sound understanding of the waterway codes of conduct will help alleviate the chances of you striking an underwater object, as you can learn to steer clear of specific areas where there’s a higher probability of hitting something like a rock bed.

If you do hit something, there are some essential steps you need to take in the aftermath – stop immediately and check the bilge for any leaks and thoroughly check again when you return to dock. If there is any water then that could mean serious damage, which you will need to get looked at as soon as possible.

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Whilst you can do everything humanly possible to prevent any of these things from happening, sometimes it is simply unavoidable. That’s why it’s imperative you take out comprehensive boat insurance to ensure you are covered for all of these scenarios. Take a look at the types of cover that GJW DIrect can offer you or get a quote right now.

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