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Do I need boat insurance?

In the UK, boat insurance is not legally required for all boat owners. However, whether or not you need boat insurance depends on various factors, including the type of boat you own, how you use it, and where you use it. Consider the type of boat you own, any marina, waterway or loan/lease requirements, liability protection, personal belongings insurance and emergency assistance.

What does boat insurance cover?

Third party liability

This coverage protects you if your boat causes damage to someone else's property or if someone is injured while on your boat. It's a fundamental part of boat insurance and may be required by law.

Accidental damage

This coverage helps repair or replace your boat if it is damaged in an accident, such as a collision or grounding.

Theft and vandalism

Boat insurance typically covers theft or vandalism of your boat or its equipment. This can include outboard motors, navigation equipment, and other accessories.

Fire damage

Coverage for damage caused by fires, including damage to the boat itself and its contents.

Weather damage

Protection against damage caused by storms, lightning, and other weather-related incidents.

Personal effects

Some policies may provide coverage for personal belongings on the boat, such as clothing, fishing gear, and other personal items.

Towing and assistance

Coverage for the cost of towing your boat to a repair facility or assistance in case of breakdowns.

Salvage and wreck removal

This coverage helps with the cost of removing your boat from the water in case of a sinking or other incident.

Medical payments

Coverage for medical expenses if you or your passengers are injured while on the boat.

Factors that affect the price of boat insurance

The type of boat you own plays a significant role in shaping your insurance premium. Different vessels come with varying risks and liabilities. From speedboats to yachts and narrowboats, insurers assess the unique characteristics and usage of your watercraft to tailor your coverage.

Insurers consider the market value, age, and condition of your vessel when calculating premiums. High-value boats typically attract higher premiums due to the increased financial risk for the insurer.

The geographic area in which you navigate your boat is a critical consideration. Insurers evaluate the risk associated with the waters you frequent. Inland waterways may pose different challenges compared to coastal or open sea navigation, influencing the cost of your insurance coverage.

How you use your boat matters. Insurers assess factors such as the frequency of use, whether it’s for leisure or commercial purposes, and the distance covered during trips. The more extensive and frequent your usage, the higher the associated risks, and subsequently, the insurance premium.

Investing in security measures for your boat can have a direct impact on your insurance costs. Anti-theft devices, secure moorings, and tracking systems are seen favourably by insurers, often resulting in lower premiums as they mitigate the risk of theft or damage.

Your experience as a boat owner and operator can influence insurance pricing. Insurers may offer more favourable rates to individuals with a proven track record of safe boating, formal training, or relevant certifications.

A clean claims history is a surefire way to keep your premiums in check. Insurers assess your past claims, accidents, or losses when determining your risk profile. A history of responsible boating can contribute to more affordable insurance rates.

Opting for a higher voluntary deductible can lead to lower premiums. By agreeing to cover a portion of the potential claim yourself, you demonstrate a commitment to responsible boating, which insurers often reward with reduced insurance costs.

What types of boat are covered?

Boat insurance can cover a wide range of watercraft, from small personal watercraft to large yachts. 

The types of boats that are typically covered by boat insurance include:

  • Motorboats
  • Sailboats
  • Personal watercraft
  • Fishing boats
  • Houseboats
  • Kayaks and canoes
  • Dinghies
  • Catamarans
  • Trawlers


Need more help?

Some boat insurance policies include coverage for personal property kept on the boat, but you may need to specify the items and their value. Consider adding personal effects coverage if needed.
The cost of boat insurance is influenced by factors such as the type of boat, its value, usage, safety features, claims history, navigation area, and additional coverages chosen.
Boat owners may be eligible for discounts based on factors such as safety equipment, boating courses, bundling with other insurance policies, and claims history.
Some boat insurance policies include coverage for travel outside UK waters. Check with your insurer to ensure you have the necessary coverage for international trips.
To make a claim, contact your insurance provider as soon as possible after an incident. They will guide you through the claims process, which typically involves providing documentation and information about the incident.
“Agreed value” pays a predetermined, agreed-upon amount in case of a total loss, while “actual cash value” pays the current market value of the boat at the time of the loss, which may be less than what you paid.
Whether you can transfer boat insurance to a new owner depends on the insurer and policy terms. Some policies may allow it, while others may not. Check with your insurer for guidance.
It’s advisable to maintain boat insurance even when your boat is not in use, as it can still be at risk of theft, vandalism, or damage while in storage or moored.

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