Safety At Sea With The RIGHT Boat Insurance!

As we enter the summer season, boat owners now look forward to the weekend when they can just drift out of their marinas to enjoy the relaxing open seas. If you are one of the thousands of recreational boat owners in Malta, you certainly know what it feels boarding your own boat and sailing away from the busy lives and roads.

However, enjoying your boat and the sea need to be done safely. This is why every year we are glad to note that the authorities host the annual Safety at Sea campaign not only to promote the importance of safe enjoyment of swimming and boating but also to enforce the laws and to make sure everyone behaves responsibly when at sea.

In fact, enforcement is already taking place. This year, to date, over 1000 boats have been inspected, 300 contraventions have been issues together with over 100 warnings. Safety is mostly required close to the 56 56 swimmer zones within the most popular bays around the Maltese Islands. This year two new ones were added over last year, one in Saint Thomas Bay in Marsascala and another in Kalanka, Delimara.

But, beyond the safety and maintenance checklists, to be truly able to relax fully on your boat, you need to have the peace of mind that you and your favourite summer asset are properly insured. Remember, at sea, safety comes first!

So here are some basics….

Why do you need boat insurance?

You need to be adequately covered because you never know what to expect. Boating, like the sea and the weather, is unpredictable so getting the cheapest policy without giving due attention to the cover may land you into problems in the event of a loss. So, always aim in getting the policy which is right for you!

Ensure that the Cruising Limits and the In-Commission Period noted on your policy schedule satisfy your requirements. If planning to sail outside Maltese Territorial Waters, ensure that this is allowed under your policy and you hold the necessary certificates. Certain insurers require pre-notification to issue the certificates required by the country you are planning to visit.

Do check for any limitations on your policy such as the Underwater Gear or Propeller Fouling Limit. Several policies, irrespective whether the craft is a small boat, sailing yacht or cabin cruiser, limit damage to Underwater Gear. The limit may range from €2,500 to €6,000. Several insurers can remove such limitation or offer cover with a higher limit, more suited to your requirements.

It is also important that you are familiar with the Claims Procedure and the Basis of Settlement on your policy. Whilst the Claims Procedure sets out the procedure to be adopted in case of a loss, the Basis of Settlement will assist you in deciding whether the sum insured noted on your policy is adequate or otherwise.

The level of cover from one insurer to another differs. A number of policies go beyond offering a basic cover and may include additional covers such as cover for personal effects, personal accident for crew and passengers, medical expenses cover, ‘get you home cover’ and water sports cover to name a few.  On the other hand, if your own damage is not required, third-party liability policies are available to cover your liabilities only.

The Third-Party Limit (also known as Limit of Liability) differs from one insurer to another, with €235,000 being the lowest limit offered by local insurers. Higher limits of €470,000 and €600,000 may be offered, depending on the type of craft. Several insurers are also able to offer limits in the region of €2 Million. Ideally, you should aim for a Third-Party Limit of not less than €470,000, €600,000 or higher being the preferred option if your boat is berthed in a marina, home to or close to, high valued yachts.

If planning to participate in club races, ensure that policy is extended to cover Racing Risks. Unless extended, damage to sails, masts etc whilst participating in racing is not covered. Insurers would require that you declare the sum insured for sails, masts etc on replacement value. May we highlight that several locally underwritten policies will only pay the lesser of the repair cost or 70% (2/3rds) of the replacement cost of the sails, masts etc. Only a few policies provide cover without applying a 70% or 2/3rds limit.

One last recommendation is to be aware and knowledgeable of the Warranties on your policy. A breach of warranty may void cover! Warranties may either be included in your policy wording or be specific to your policy by means of an endorsement. The latter would normally be highlighted during the quotation stage or at renewal.

It is not responsible to go out at sea with a boat not properly maintained, lacking basic safety equipment or without an adequate boat or yacht insurance. Enjoying one’s boat comes at a price but in the case of an accident or any other unfortunate circumstances, the price would certainly, be a much higher one.

Sail safely and enjoy your summer holidays!