• Background



Wednesday, 20 May 2020


Many boat owners may be finding that as a direct result of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown imposed, setting sail is not presently possible. 

Topsail have been approached by many clients querying the impact this is having on their policies, with the majority asking similar questions; -

- If I was required to be having a new survey prior to renewal but have been unable to get this carried out, where do I stand?

- Do I need to amend my policy to out of commission, or do I even need to bother insuring the boat at all this year? 

Let us start with the survey requirement. Most insurers we have spoken with are offering a one-year extension on the survey requirement. Obviously this will vary from insurer to insurer, but the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority who regulates the insurance industry) have set out clear guidelines of what is expected from insurers during these uncertain times and there is emphasis on the need for insurers to be flexible where possible. We are finding that this has been the case and that we have been able to work with the insurer and the boat owner to find a satisfactory solution. Let’s be honest, at present it is likely impossible to have a survey carried out.

If the vessel is laid-up ashore or afloat out of commission, there may well be a reduction in premium. Additionally, most insurers offer flexibility to amend or extend cover mid-way through the policy period. As such, if you find yourself in the situation of not knowing if you will be able to get out on your boat this year, perhaps discuss with your insurer or broker about the possibility of opting for an out of commission policy for the duration of the policy period. You can then contact them if and when you can use the boat and they can look to arrange the necessary changes. Of course, this change will likely result in an additional premium, but you have potentially initially saved by taking a lay-up policy and the charge should be reflective of what you otherwise would have paid for having the boat in-commission.

Obviously, the decision not to insure the boat is not something we would recommend. Even if not using the boat, there remains plenty of hazards that could lead to a claim, so do you wish to take the chance of being uninsured? Of course, this is a decision which needs to be made by yourself, but we would recommend that you consider the boat value and whether you can afford to self-insure your vessel. One thing to note is that insurers have started to see an increase in criminal related claims and there is a concern that the volume theft or malicious damage related claims could increase, so please make careful consideration when deciding on this.

Boat insurance in the UK is not a legal requirement, but most moorings, marina or other, will ordinarily require you to have at minimum third party liability insurance for your boat and this will most likely be a condition of your mooring contract. Be sure to check your contract to ensure you are adhering to the terms.

Topsail understand these are hugely uncertain times and many are being impacted as a result of this virus. Please be sure to check your policy. Are the sums insured correct? How is it used? Skipper charter, other. Ensure this is covered. Am I within the cruising parameters provided on my policy? We remain on hand to discuss any queries or concerns you may have and welcome any questions.

Stay safe.


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