When looking for a boat insurance policy, boat owners often wonder whether their boat is covered by their homeowners insurance.
So, does homeowners insurance cover boats?
In this blog we explain the liability coverage of homeowners insurance policies vs boat insurance policies and whether it’s a better idea to take out a dedicated boat insurance policy.
Do I Need Separate Insurance for My Boat?
Boats have a high recovery and replacement cost and come with their own risks. So, insuring them makes sense.
You may find that your homeowners insurance policy or car insurance provides a degree of cover, but there are lots of good reasons for taking out a dedicated boat insurance policy or personal watercraft insurance.
Will My Home Contents Insurance Cover My Boat?
While your boat is stored at your home it may be covered – up to a certain value – by your homeowners insurance policy.
Home insurers, for the most part, do not have any particular expertise in insuring watercraft.
So, you will find that you have limited coverage that is not tailored to your needs.
And if you are in the unfortunate position of needing to claim for damage or an accident to your boat, you may be getting help from someone who does not have a full understanding of what has happened and what your needs are.
It is certainly worth calling up your home insurance company or provider and asking them whether your boat is covered.
But specialist boat or watercraft insurance will give you better insurance coverage, better service and better peace of mind than homeowner’s insurance.
It will provide coverage when your boat is on the water, in a marina or in a boatyard, too rather than the very limited coverage that home insurance policies provide.
Will My Car Insurance Cover My Boat?
While you’re towing your boat to the water, it may be covered by your car or auto insurance if you’ve made appropriate arrangements.
Note that some motor insurances have restrictions about the length of boat you can tow in your boat trailer and are usually limited to small boats.
It’s best to call up and ask before you set out.
Do I Need Boat Insurance?
You probably do need boat insurance, particularly if we’re talking about a larger boat with a high replacement cost.
Insurance may also be a condition of navigating certain waters or taking part in organised sailing activities.
So not having boat insurance can be quite limiting.
Your home insurance might cover your boat while it’s stored at your home.
But your homeowners policy won’t cover your boat on the water, in transit or in a boat yard.
Personal liability coverage is almost always very limited when you have homeowners insurance cover and homeowners policies will have restrictions on many things such as boat size and certain vessels won’t be covered by your insurance provider at all.
Not ideal if you get into a boating accident and need yours or a third parties medical bills covered.
Boat insurance cover will almost always give you better liability insurance and personal property coverage than homeowners insurance.
Is Boat Insurance a Legal Requirement?
There is no UK law saying that you must insure your boat – but you will need, at the very least, third-party cover if you want to access the facilities at a marina or use a boatyard.
And you’ll also need it if you plan to navigate rivers and canals.
Am I Covered by The Previous Owner’s Boat Insurance?
If you buy a boat second-hand, the insurance previously held won’t apply any more. You need to take out a new policy for your boat.
How Do I Cut the Cost of My Boat Insurance?
You can reduce the cost of boat insurance by:
- shopping around to find a policy that best meets your needs (NOTE: Velos won’t be on any price comparison websites because we offer a tailored insurance service)
- building up a no claims bonus
- taking some training (particularly if you are a new boat owner).
How Much Does Boat Insurance Cost?
The cost of boat insurance varies enormously according to what type of boat you wish to insure, where it is stored, your level of experience and competence and what activities you have planned on the water.
At Velos we provide tailored insurance, so the best way to find out the cost of your boat insurance is to use our form to get a quick quote.
Ultimately, while boat owners have limited coverage of their personal watercraft via their home insurance policy while it is on their property, we hope you’ve seen that a specific boat insurance policy is always the better option to have full coverage for your boat.
More is typically covered than would be on your home insurance policy, especially if a person’s boat is being used on the water, rather than sitting on your drive.
What steps should you take when your boat capsizes?
An accident in which a vessel sinks or capsizes is every boatowner’s nightmare. But it’s something that everyone who goes on the water should consider so that they know what to do if the worst happens.
Boating accidents can occur as a result of striking something – like floating debris or another vessel. They can be caused by bad weather, mechanical failure, poor maintenance, user error or simple bad luck.
Reduce the impact of a boating accident before you sail
The most important thing you can do to protect those you sail with is to insist on everyone wearing lifejackets (or personal floatation devices – PFDs) while on the water. Be sure to keep your PFDs in tip-top shape by checking them regularly, storing them well and replacing them as necessary. The RNLI has some helpful guidance about lifejackets.
Make sure your boat has the right level of insurance. Before you set sail think about whether the coverage you have is right for the activities you have planned. The right insurance policy will help with the costs of recovery and repair – but if you’ve got the wrong coverage, then you may find yourself paying for more than you otherwise might have. If you want to check your coverage with Velos, get in touch on +44 (0)20 7929 4058.
Keep your vessel in good repair. Take steps to maintain your watercraft to a good standard. This will reduce the chances of an accident.
Carry a communication device. Look into the different options, including handheld VHF; personal locator beacon; EPIRB; SART.
Talk with your passengers and crew about what to do when things go wrong. It might put a bit of a dampener on the launch – but it’s a conversation that could save lives.
What happens when a boat starts to sink?
A boat can start to sink very quickly once it starts to take on water. So, make sure everyone is wearing a lifejacket.
You will want to have your communication device and your ditch bag handy in case you need to evacuate.
Once everyone is as safe as they can be, call for help. The coastguard will want to know your location, boat name, number of people and situation. They may also ask how long you can stay afloat.
While you wait for help to arrive, start work on some self-help. It may be possible to plug a leak with anything soft like bags of food or bedding. Think about whether you can shift the weight in the boat to raise the leak above the water line. Use bilge pumps to remove the water, and think about whether beaching the boat is an option, as this will prevent the boat from sinking.
What should I do if my boat capsizes?
Stay with a capsized vessel. It is easier for rescuers to spot a vessel in open water than the head of a swimmer. You can also stay dryer and warmer for longer, even in a listing vessel.
What should I do if my boat collides with another vessel?
In the event of two boats colliding, you must stop and identify yourself, your vessel, your home port, your ports of origin and destination. You are obliged to help the people on board the other boat – as long as it’s safe to do so.
You will need to report the collision if there are extensive damages or the seaworthiness of the vessel is affected or if it’s resulted in death or injury that requires more than first aid.
If you are racing: protest the third party if they do not accept the penalty.
Finally, you should get witness statements and details from everyone involved.
What should I do once I’ve been rescued from a sinking yacht?
Once help arrives and you and your passengers are safe, you may be able to negotiate a tow if your boat is not completely sunk. Take steps to safeguard the vessel, then let your insurers know. They can advise on salvage and repairs and will tell you what estimates to get. Gather witness statements, and details of any other vessels involved.
At Velos, our claims are managed by trained, UK-based claims handlers who are experienced in marine insurance.
What should you do if you get stranded on the water?
Dead batteries, soft grounding, empty fuel tank… Whatever the reason, your boat is dead in the water, or unable to attain a good speed and you need to get back to a safe harbour or mooring for repairs. A breakdown on water is stressful wherever it occurs, and it will certainly be expensive. But insurance coverage can help reduce the impact.
Do I have to pay to get my boat towed?
The cost of getting your boat towed to safety will vary by the distance you need to go and the conditions. You may be lucky and find someone to help you for free – but you may have to pay, and it is decent to give a donation if a voluntary organisation comes to your aid. The price will depend on the time of day (according to the marine breakdown service SeaStart, 80% of pleasure craft breakdowns occur at the weekend or in the evening when recovery may be more expensive).
Many boat owners opt to pay for an annual breakdown and recovery service. That way they can be sure of priority attention and a predictable bill.
How do I call for assistance when my boat is broken down in the water?
In the UK, at sea, if you don’t have a breakdown policy, and you can’t fix your craft, you can put out a pan-pan call on your radio, or contact the coastguard on channel 16. The coastguard will ask another boat in the area to help you. If there is an immediate risk, make a mayday call.
On an inland waterway, in an emergency when lives or property are at risk, call 999. The Canal and River Trust has boat service listings to help you find a nearby boatyard that can help with a tow.
What information should I give the coastguard during a breakdown?
Ideally, you should be able to give an accurate position. This shouldn’t be much of a problem on inland waterways. But at sea it is very difficult to judge distance by eye, and interpretations of ‘just off’ or ‘not far from’ can vary. Make sure your radio is GPS-enabled so you can get your position quickly and easily.
As well as your location, you should also tell them what type of craft you are in, and briefly explain your problem.
Do I have to accept the tow company’s fee?
If you want to get back to a safe harbour from a breakdown at sea, it’s as well to check where whoever comes to your aid is towing you to, and what compensation they want. In some cases it may be enough to agree to buy them a beer, or pay for fuel, but a professional boat breakdown service will send you a bill.
On an inland waterway, it may be possible to shop around, but if you do not take action to move your boat you risk the waterway authority acting on your behalf.
How do I get ready to have my boat towed?
While you wait for your rendezvous with the rescue boat, set up lines and fenders. The skipper may have their own lines and fenders, so don’t deploy yours until you are asked to. Yachts should lower their sails, unless they think they might need to manoeuvre before the tow-boat arrives. The skipper may try to call your phone, or contact you by radio to let you know help is coming. So keep an eye on your communications devices.
How much does it cost to get my boat towed to my home mooring?
Many watercraft breakdown policies will include recovery to the nearest safe mooring or haven. This might not be your home mooring. You will have to pay extra if you want your boat taken to your home mooring, and you may not be able to arrange this immediately.
What should I do once my watercraft has been towed to safety?
Once you are in a safe haven and your craft is protected from further damage, contact your insurance company and find out what the next steps are.
Will my boat insurance cover me if I need towing?
At Velos we tailor our policies to our customer’s specific needs. Contact us today to find out how we can help you with pleasure craft insurance.