In principle, it’s not a legal requirement to have your boat insured in UK waters. However, as soon as you try to use the boat, you’ll discover that in reality, the situation is quite different. You will find it’s very difficult to use an uninsured boat.
To explain what we mean, here is a list of the five main reasons why you need boat insurance:
1. Third-party claims
There are a lot of very valuable craft off all shapes and sizes floating on the UK's seas, canals and estuaries. In addition, there are expensive navigation marks, shoreside facilities and installations, so you can see that a third-party claim could add up to many thousands of pounds in no time at all. One collision could also lead to environmental damage, or, in extreme cases, the potential closure of a harbour or port, with all the associated financial implications.
While you may not plan to cause an accident, the nature of boating means that situations can escalate quickly. Third-Party Liability insurance is an important feature that you should purchase to protect not only others but yourself from lawsuits or claims.
2. Inland waterway licences
You can’t apply for an inland waterways licence without boat insurance. That means you’ll have a boat but won’t be able to use it – which leaves it liable to be seized by the navigation authority as unlicensed. Things are less stringent on coastal waters, but nonetheless, most mooring providers, slipways, harbours and marinas won’t let you in unless you have at least third-party insurance.
In some harbours the mooring contract will state that you (or your insurer) are legally required to recover your boat should it sink – and without insurance, you’re looking at a potentially hefty bill. In reality, this is rarely checked, but should an accident happen, you’ll be liable whether or not you have insurance. Salvage costs can escalate rapidly.
4. Personal legal cover
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that personal legal claims are on the increase – and without legal cover as part of your boat insurance, you’re on your own. You would then be liable to foot the bill for your defence should someone take you to court for an accident or incident involving personal injury and your boat.
5. Peace of mind
Your boat is your pride and joy! Third-Party Liability cover will ensure that any damage caused to other boats or personal injury to other people is taken care of, but that leaves your boat with no protection at all.
Even low-cost boats have a value much higher than their purchase price, especially when you take into account all the fittings and accessories such as dinghies and electronics, which are also the items most vulnerable to thieves.
With boat insurance, you’ll get peace of mind, and should your boat be affected by damage, theft, sinking or any number of other mishaps, you’ll be back on the water in no time. And that’s worth much more than a few hundred pounds a year for the insurance.