What Insurance do You Need When Owning a Yacht?

In the UK, small private leisure vessels such as the 36ft yacht don’t strictly require insurance by law, unless they are operated on inland waterways. However, in reality it’s likely that all lenders of marine mortgages and most marinas will also require you to insure for a variety of risk as part of their terms and conditions. Frankly, it would be foolhardy and potentially very expensive not to insure - but what insurance do you need?

In simple terms, most yacht owners should consider at least two types of insurance, namely;

1. Insurance for loss or damage and
2. Insurance for third party liability

INSURANCE FOR LOSS OR DAMAGE

Most policies are likely to cover the following;

  • Loss or damage caused by latent defects 
  • Damage by Frost 
  • Personal effects 
  • Accidental damage, including fire, theft and malicious damage, sinking, stranding, collisions and salvage costs 
  • Damage to engines 
  • Lifting and launching risks 

You can usually also request additional cover for things like damage to mast and rigging whilst racing or transit insurance (usually for boats up to 30 ft in length).

Interestingly, the following risks might NOT be included, so it’s worth checking the small print on any quote / policy document. These exclusions might include;

  • Theft unless the right security devices or locks are fitted 
  • Damage caused by wear and tear 
  • Loss of value due to age of vessel 
  • Losses caused by corrosion osmosis 
  • Wilful misconduct 
  • Mast, spars and sails whilst racing unless the policy has been extended 
  • Damage to machinery following breakdown 

Like most insurance policies there may be a policy excess applicable to each claim.

THIRD PARTY LIABILITY

Claims under third party liability are probably more common than other claims. When that ‘sporty park’ goes wrong it’s very reassuring to know that it’s just your pride and an agreed excess that are in danger and not a huge bill to rebuild the gin palace berthed next to you or worse still a claim for death or injury as a result of collision or error on your part.

As with all insurance policies the devil is in the detail so don’t assume - check! Make sure the vessel is insured for the area in which you will be sailing her and check on the insurer’s requirements with regard to manning levels and skipper’s qualifications. 

For more information check out the RYA’s advice here.