Unpacked boat insurance – Mysailing


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When browsing online browsing forums, it’s hard not to notice that some of the most frequently asked questions center around boat insurance.

Questions include: What should be covered in a boat insurance policy? What is a reasonable premium? Does it cover me to sail in international waters?

Pantaenius Australia specializes in the insurance of pleasure boats. They provide insurance for motor boats, motor yachts, sailboats, sailing yachts, super yachts and sailors in blue waters.

Michaela Claes from Pantaenius Australia helps us uncover some of the unknowns about boat insurance.

When putting together a policy, insurance companies look at various aspects, including cruise plans. Pic – Greta Q

Why take out boat insurance?

In all honesty, why not you?

Third party insurance is the minimum you should have to protect yourself against huge financial losses resulting from damaging someone else’s property. Liability insurance is also required by marinas to access their facilities.

Third Party Only Policies, which, as the name suggests, protect boaters from damage caused by third parties.

That being said, if you can afford it (or better, can’t afford to lose your boat), we strongly recommend that you take out a full policy.

Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your boat and personal effects, damage to third parties. And it covers you and your crew in the event of an injury while sailing.

No one ever expects to have a tragic accident and many naively say to themselves that “it will be fine”. But the reality is, you can never really know what can happen.

What criteria does Pantaenius take into account when approached by a boat owner who wants his boat to be insured?

When setting up a policy, we look at various aspects, including:

  • Site. For example, an area prone to cyclones may be treated differently.
  • Cruise plans. For example, insurance would be different for coastal cruisers and offshore yacht racers.
  • Age, length, type and make of the boat.
  • If a vessel is kept at anchor or docked.

All these elements then impact the premium and the deductible offered, as well as the guarantees provided.

What does a typical boat insurance policy cover?

Insurance is there to provide coverage against accidental events. This category includes events such as:

  • Earthing
  • Lightning
  • Collisions
  • Fires

What an insurance policy usually does not cover is damage caused by maintenance issues or normal wear and tear.

View from the top of the mast looking at the moored boat, a person seated in the cockpit and a dinghy in the back.
Maintenance is not necessarily covered by boat insurance. Photo – John Q

What if I have an accident and what steps should I take immediately after the accident? Is it any different if it’s my fault or their fault?

The best thing to do after an incident is to call your insurer, as they can walk you through the process and provide you with advice and information on the terms of a potential claim.

If you are not at fault, it is still preferable to contact your insurer as soon as possible.

In these scenarios, there are two ways to move forward:

  1. Claim by the other party’s insurance or your own insurance. If the other party admits fault and opens a claim with their insurer, then you can initiate the process directly through them and come to an appropriate agreement.
  2. If, however, this is not possible or if you prefer to deal with your own insurer, a claim will be handled in accordance with the terms of your policy, just like any standard claim. Your insurer will be required to bill your deductible. However, once the claim is finalized, they would seek to recover the fund from the other party / their insurer. If full recovery is made, your excess may be returned to you.

What should I plan for for full boat insurance? Is it two, five or 10 percent of the value of the boat per year?

Unfortunately, things are not as clear as you might think. Many variables determine the premium and deductible offered to a customer. For example, if you intend to sail in the South Pacific, you should expect a much higher premium than if you stayed in Australian waters. If you have an old boat for example, your bounty would also likely be more expensive than that of your neighbor who has a brand new 30ft cruiser.

Is there a limit to where you can go on certain policies?

Pantaenius can offer worldwide coverage. Many of our customers are currently sailing outside Australian waters.

Made Pantaenius covers boats on swivel moorings (as opposed to boats in marinas) and are there any exclusion zones, such as hurricane zones?

Yes, we cover boats on swivel moorings, in fact a large percentage of our customers keep their boats on mooring lines. There are some areas in Australia where we cannot offer a swivel mooring cover. If a cyclone did pass through, you would be required to keep your ship docked with the proper precautions in play.

What does a yacht survey have to do with boat insurance? Do the boats require a regular visit to renew the insurance or just a first visit?

An investigation is required by insurance as it provides details of the condition of the boat. The investigation is often the determining factor in whether or not an insurer is willing to insure a boat. We generally require an investigation report at the start of coverage, unless it is a new boat, and every five years thereafter. This is a standard requirement among insurers in this industry.

The investigative requirement also protects the customer, as it draws their attention to areas in need of maintenance. Remember that no insurer covers damage resulting from maintenance problems. Therefore, an investigation protects the insured against unforeseen damage and potentially monstrous repair costs resulting from the subsequent loss.

Can a boat owner be insured with Pantaenius suspend coverage if they do not use their boat for an extended period of time?

We cannot “suspend” coverage, which would require us to completely cancel a contract. However, we can offer special coverage for such cases. This reduced coverage (depending on individual circumstances) also reduces the premium for the insured. Many of our customers have opted for this coverage throughout the covid period because they haven’t been able to get to their boat for many months. The cover eliminated cruising, but kept the boat insured against accidents such as lightning strike while docked. The policy is then reinstated to standard coverage as needed.

Can you give a concrete example of how boat insurance has been of real benefit to a boat owner?

Where to start? We have hundreds of stories! There were numerous submersions which necessitated rescue operations which resulted in total losses. This meant that the owner was paid the insured value of his vessel and was also not liable for sometimes $ 100,000 in wreckage recovery and removal costs.

In other cases, we have had policyholders falsely accused of damages. As a result, we took care of the matter and handled the matter with our legal team, again saving the insured’s stress, time and money. Boat complaints can be frightening. While we can deal with a lower value claim, for example, the owner is distraught. So we can be their safety net and provide more than just financial support every step of the way.

Two people on a boat sitting under the dam overlooking the shore.
While boat complaints can be frightening, there are many success stories. Pic – Greta Q

Can boat owners benefit from discounts on insurance (for example, if they take a first aid course, have a coxswain or yacht master certificate)?

While we take boating and sailing experience into account when setting up a policy and its premium, we do not offer a specific “discount” for such attributes.

Can boat insurance be combined with home and auto insurance?

Not at Pantaenius because we specialize in the insurance of pleasure boats. We offer the best and most personalized coverage to meet the individual needs of each client. And that is only possible because we are focused on one market and have a team that really knows the boats.

Some of the big insurers around the world would probably offer combo insurance, as you suggest, but from what we’ve seen, that coverage is pretty limited.

For more information on Pantaenius Australia Pty Ltd see: https://www.pantaenius.com/au-en/

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