December 10, 2021 - Velos

Do You Need Insurance to Drive a Boat (What About a Licence?)

Owning a boat is like having a ticket to unlimited freedom. Being able to sail your own vessel, whether it is to take on the wider seas or move smoothly by across the beautiful inland waterways of the UK, there’s little wonder that boating is so popular here. Given its popularity and the number of boats on our waters, it’s natural to wonder whether or not you need boat insurance or even a licence to use your boat, however.

You do not need insurance or even a boat licence to use certain kinds of boats in the UK. That being said, certain inland waterways, marinas, and vessels will require you to have a boat safety scheme or boat licences, and at the very least some form of boat insurance (such as third party insurance).

Let’s take a closer look.

Is Boat Insurance Required in the UK?

No, you do not need boat insurance in the UK to own or even use your boat. As a boat owner, it’s not a legal requirement for you to have insurance…with some exceptions.

That being said, there are certain marinas, and most inland waterways that insist on boat owners to have at least some form of boat insurance.

It’s generally seen as good practice to provide boat insurance details if requested.

It is recommended that you have at least third-party liability insurance.

Third-party insurance will ensure that if you cause any accidental damage to other boats and people, said damages, injuries and even death will be covered financially.

There are, of course, completely comprehensive policies available for boats that cover fire, theft, personal accident, etc.

Many inland waterways and marinas require you to at least have a boat safety scheme certificate.

For more information, you should contact your own marina and the broads authority to ensure that your boat is safe to use in that specific area.

Do You Have to Have Insurance on A Boat Outside of UK Waters?

Although you will have to research the waters through which you will be specifically travelling on and the countries in which you plan on docking, most European countries and other territories do ask for proof of insurance on your boat.

Of course, it is best to enquire with the specific port and waters that you plan on visiting to be sure of whether or not you need boat insurance and whether your vessel meets all of their requirements for entry.

You should also consult the navigation authorities should you have any queries regarding using your boat.

Is It Illegal to Not Have Boat Insurance?

Since having boat insurance in the UK is not a legal requirement no, it is not illegal to avoid setting up such a policy.

However, given the sheer cost of buying and maintaining a boat, it would be wise to insure it to ensure that your vessel is covered should an accident occur, be it of your doing or someone else’s.

There are plenty of boats sailing in the UK that are not insured and who do not even have third party insurance.

It is always wise to protect your vessel from any eventuality. Especially if you own a valuable luxury yacht. Yacht insurance becomes essential.

Do You Need Insurance to Drive a Boat blog post image

Do I Need a Licence to Own a Boat?

No, you won’t need a boat licence to physically own a boat in the UK.

What’s more, if you use your vessel for commercial purposes, even a small commercial boat will require you to have a licence.

Do You Need a License to Drive a Boat in UK Seas?

Generally speaking, you do not need a boating licence to sail your yacht, rowing boats or most other vessels in UK waters. However, to run speed boats, you will require a licence.

That being said, most inland waterways, such as the Suffolk Broads, the Thames, etc., require boat owners to have a boat licence. That goes for all owners, whether you have a powered boat or an unpowered boat.

Is a Licence Required to Drive a Boat in Foreign Waters?

Many foreign countries and waters require boat owners to possess an International Certificate of Competence (ICC), also known as an international boat licence, to ensure that they are safe to travel within the waters.

However, if you are travelling somewhere abroad, be it a powered boat or not, it is best to take a competency exam beforehand to ensure that you, those on your vessel, and anyone surrounding your boat is free from harm.

You won’t have to pass any kind of exam when it comes to owning a boat – but for the sake of boat safety, it’s best to brush up.

Summary

With boating laws being what they are in the UK right now, it can be easy to assume that driving or sailing a boat is completely free and easy.

In fact, given that owning a boat does not mean that you have to have it insured, it can seem easier to own a boat than it is a car in many ways.

However, all vessels, even unpowered boats, can be challenging to use. So much affects the way that your journey will go, including your experience, the weather, and other boat users around you.

Just as you should always have certain security devices on your boat (such as inflatable rafts, life jackets, etc.), you would be wise to also have a boat licence, or at the very least, a boat safety scheme certificate.

Moreover, you will find that the broads authority and other navigation authorities will now insist upon owners having boat licenses, a boat safety scheme, and at the very least third party insurance.

Save yourself some hassle and give yourself peace of mind by making your time on the water safer for you and everyone else.

Whether you own a yacht, sailboat, pleasure craft or motorboat, you can trust your vessel with Velos.

Start your boat insurance policy quote now by clicking on the quote button at the top of this page.

Contact the navigation authority to ensure that you and your boat are safe on the UK waters for more information.

You should also look at marine finance to enquire about any financial information regarding boat insurance and insurance companies.

Read Also: Is my boat covered by my home insurance?

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