FAQs

All your boating questions answered

COVID-19 UPDATES

Q. Will my policy be affected if I can’t get my BSS Certificate completed due to COVID-19?

Don’t worry – if your Boat Safety Scheme Certificate expires during a COVID-19 lockdown, your boat insurance with us will remain in force. Please do keep us advised of the situation when the Boat Safety Scheme restarts, the waterways are reopened, and you’re able to get a BSS Examiner to your vessel.

Q. How do I get a copy of my Certificate of Insurance?

Just email [email protected] with your policy number and full name, and we’ll email you a copy as quickly as we can, at no additional charge.

Q. Where can I access my policy wording?

You can find your important documents such as policy wording and Insurance Product Information Documents (IPIDs) by visiting the insurance page for the type of boat you have and scrolling down to ‘Useful documents’.

Q. During any period of COVID-19 restrictions, am I entitled to any compensation because I can’t get to the boat or use it?

We understand how difficult a time this is for boat owners, as many of us are away from our boats and unable to use them. Unfortunately, like most boat insurances, our policy wording doesn’t compensate for lack of use of the vessel during the period of cover.

Q. During any period of COVID-19 restrictions, if I can’t get to my boat, am I still covered?

During any period of Government-enforced, COVID-19-related restrictions, if any claim arises which is covered by your policy but directly related to you being unable to visit your boat, you will be covered, and we’ll aim to be as flexible as we can within your policy terms.

Q. How do I make a claim during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Please email us on [email protected] with your name, policy number and the nature of the claim. If it’s urgent, please call 01732 223 610 and we’ll aim to get back to you as quickly as we can.

See also our ‘Claims’ FAQs.

Q. What if I’m having problems paying my premium during the COVID-19 outbreak?

We fully understand how challenging things are at the moment. So if you’re experiencing some financial difficulties and struggling to pay your premium, please email us on [email protected] and put your policy number in the subject header. If you bought your policy through a broker, please get in touch with them directly.

We’re committed to working closely with our clients on a case-by-case basis, and we’ll offer support wherever we can at this difficult time

CLAIMS

Q. What should I do if my own vessel is damaged?

Take immediate action to safeguard and protect any property from further damage or deterioration. This may include first aid to the engine.

Get help (professional if necessary) to safeguard and protect your boat and equipment.

If a tow is required, try to agree a realistic charge or fee before you accept.

Keep all broken, torn or damaged items for inspection and look after them as best you can.

The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.

Q. What should I do if my vessel is damaged by a third party?

As well as requesting the name(s) and address(es) of the helm and boat owner, get details of the boat type, class, number, name, and club, along with any witness details.

If you’re racing, make sure you protest the Third Party if they didn’t accept a penalty, and gather witness statements.

If you’re involved in a road accident, call the police to the scene and get details of the driver, vehicle and insurer, as well as any witnesses.

 If possible, write down all the details and make a sketch of the site.

The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.

Q. What should I do if I cause any damage to third parties?

If a Third Party wants to hold you liable for damage, give them your name, policy number and boat details, and pass on your Haven Knox-Johnston insurance details.

You should acknowledge any correspondence and pass it on to us straight away.

Do not admit any liability or make any offer of payment.

The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.

Q. What should I do if my vessel is stolen or vandalised?

Report any theft or malicious damage to the police promptly.

Keep a note of the Police Crime Reference Number.

Let us know the serial numbers of any engines, tenders etc.

Notify your club and local harbour master with the full details of the theft/vandalism.

The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.

Q. Helpful advice

It may seem like strange advice, but when you experience loss or damage to your vessel, you should act as though you are uninsured. In other words, act as though you’re covering the cost of the problem without claiming on your insurance. This approach will help you take reasonable steps to minimise the loss. 

Where possible, please take photographs of any damage to your vessel.

The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.

Q. Understanding the details

Please remember that the repair contract is between you and the contractor. Any instructions about either repair or replacement must come from you. However, you must get our agreement in the first place.

Please read your policy wording carefully, because your claim may be subject to deductions in addition to your policy excess.

The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.

MOORINGS

Q. Are there any restrictions on where speedboats can be moored?

It’s important to check, as most insurers will impose conditions or restrictions for small vessels left afloat unattended. Our Haven Knox-Johnston ‘All Weather’ boat insurance policy excludes cover for sinking or swamping for any vessel less than 17 feet in length that has a maximum designed speed in excess of 17 knots when left unattended afloat.

The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.

Q. Can my boat be kept on its mooring all year?

The location of a mooring will dictate whether the policy permits the vessel to be left on the mooring throughout the year or whether it’s restricted to certain months. Moorings should be laid professionally, and regularly checked and maintained by a professional mooring contractor. It’s also wise to make sure the person who laid the mooring carries adequate professional indemnity insurance to cover their liabilities. If the mooring area is at all exposed (even to a freak wind), it’s sensible to use a chain from the mooring to the vessel, rather than relying on a rope strop. The vessel’s topsides can be protected from chaffing by covering the top section of the chain with a plastic tube.

The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.

Q. Is sticking to the ‘lay up’ period important?

If your policy stipulates a period during which the vessel must not be left on the mooring, this period must be strictly observed. If you need the vessel to be left on the mooring after the lay-up date (clearly stated on your Certificate of Insurance), or if it’s to be put into the water before the end of the lay-up period, the insurers must be advised and they must agree in advance to this.

All boat owners must make sure they’re aware of the implications of their boat insurance policy terms and conditions. If you’re in any doubt regarding any stipulation as to where and how the vessel is to be moored or stored, you should ask the insurer for clarification straight away.

The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.

Q. Do moorings make a difference to an insurer?

Yes, they do – where and how a vessel is moored can affect the risk a boat faces. It also affects the insurer’s assessment of the risk, and its rating, terms and conditions. Generally, subject to any specific terms and conditions, the insurance covers the vessel ashore and afloat, and includes hauling and launching. Different moorings can carry different conditions and limitations and it is important that these are understood.

The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.

Q. Is a Marina Berth the preferred berth for most boats?

Yes, a Marina Berth is the preferred mooring for most boats. In order to promote freedom to use the vessel, it’s advisable and best to have 12 months in commission cover. Under our Haven Knox-Johnston ‘All Weather’ boat insurance policy, we won’t apply your policy excess or delete your No Claims Bonus in the event of a loss occurring while your vessel is in a purpose-built marina, either ashore or afloat on a berth. 

The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.

Q. Can I keep my boat on dry land when not in use?

Usually, this is not a problem – but certain conditions regarding the security of the vessel and trailer may apply. In particular, the need for the trailer to be wheel-clamped or kept in a locked building when the boat is not actually being towed is typical, and must be complied with to the letter. Boats can also be kept ashore on Dry Stack. These are professionally-run storage facilities, where the boat is launched as and when required, and lifted back out of the water when you’ve finished using it.

The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.

SURVEYS

Q. Should I have a survey done when buying a second-hand boat?

It’s generally considered good practice to have a second-hand boat surveyed before buying it, regardless of its age. There will also be occasions when an insurer will need to see a survey report before agreeing to provide cover on some vessels – for example, those that are over a certain age, home-built, refitted, or that have been damaged.

Q. Who should I get to carry out a survey on my boat?
    • Find a surveyor who is knowledgeable about the type of boat you have. 
  • The surveyor must be independent of the seller and any intermediary involved in the sale.
  • The surveyor should have professional indemnity insurance. 
  • Many surveyors carry qualifications and/or are members of professional bodies, such as the Yacht Designers and Surveyors Association (YDSA) and the International Institute of Marine Surveyors (IIMS).
  • To find a surveyor, get in touch with a professional body, check their websites, or ask your local marina or a yacht broker for their recommended list.
Q. What type of survey should I have on my boat?
  • The survey itself should be a full survey e.g covering the whole boat including engine(s), rig, hull, deck and fittings.
  • The survey should be done out of the water i.e. ‘dry’. The value of the vessel should be indicated when the survey is done.
  • To be acceptable to an insurer (and each insurer may have their own rules), any survey for insurance purposes should be not more than two years old, and undertaken for the insured.
  • You shouldn’t rely on a survey done for someone else, e.g. the previous owner or a previous potential buyer. While it may be a useful guide, the surveyor involved only has a responsibility to the person who commissioned the survey, and to no-one else. If there does exist a survey done for someone else, it may be possible (and cheaper) to re-approach that surveyor for an ‘update’, rather than arrange for a whole new survey.
  • Any survey will contain recommendations, and it’s sensible to speak to the surveyor when you receive them. The surveyor should arrange them in order of priority, e.g.:
    • Those that must be done before the boat goes back in the water.
    • Those that can be done after the boat is afloat, but before she’s put back into commission.
    • Those that should be done soon, but can wait until the next lay-up period.
    • Those that need doing to keep the boat in good condition.
  • Once the recommendations have been carried out, the surveyor should be called back to check them, and confirm, in writing, that the recommendations have been complied with to their satisfaction.

The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.

Q. Do I need a boat safety scheme certification?

Check with your navigation authority if this applies to your waterway. It should be noted that these are not surveys, and the vessel should be retested when she changes hands.

The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.

Q. How often should I have a survey carried out on my boat?
  • Many inland waterways require you to have a Boat Safety Certificate issued by the Canal and River Trust and the Environmental Agency. Its purpose is to help minimise the risk of boat fires, explosions or pollution. While it’s wise to have any ‘elderly’ boat regularly checked over, it’s up to you how often the vessel is surveyed.
  • Some insurers, however, ask for surveys on a regular basis, every 3 or 5 years. As a general rule, once we receive a satisfactory survey report from you, we won’t ask for another survey for as long as you stay continually insured with us. 
  • It’s sensible to ask any insurer who requests a survey, how often after the first one they’ll ask for another. A survey may seem an expensive irritation, but while any owner will feel they ‘know’ their own boat, it’s essential that an independent, qualified, insured person is called in when necessary.

The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.

EXTENDED CRUISING

Q. Is boat insurance necessary for extended cruising?

It’s not compulsory to take out boat insurance in the United Kingdom, but increasingly, marinas and harbour authorities will ask for Third Party Liability (our Base Layer policy) as a minimum. Similarly, Spain, Italy, Greece, and many other countries require proof you hold at least Third Party Liability when you arrive in their territory. We can provide you with a document written in the local language to prove it.

Q. Is boat insurance for extended cruising easy to arrange?

That depends on what you’re planning. There are a limited number of insurers in the pleasure craft market, and most of these are wary of long voyages with minimal crew.

Q. So, how do I begin to plan my extended cruising adventure?

Firstly, we suggest you talk to others who have undertaken such a voyage. Organisations such as the Cruising Association and the Ocean Cruising Club can guide you in the right direction.

Secondly, you have to be able to show any prospective insurer you’re planning the voyage in a thorough and detailed way. Asking for cover to sail to New Zealand in just one year, for example, would show you’re in a hurry, and may be pushing the boat hard.

Thirdly, the plan must be seen to be possible. Any insurer is going to ask about the voyage. This is not just underwriters being nosey, but an attempt to discover whether the voyage has been planned properly. For example, have you thought about avoiding hurricane and typhoon areas? Or at least taken them into account?

Here’s a checklist:

  • Prepare a full itinerary of the ports to be visited and the approximate dates. Set this out on an annual basis, so a premium can be calculated based on where you’re actually going.
  • Prepare a full CV for you and all crew members who’ll be on board for the voyage, and particularly for any of the ocean crossings – the more detailed, the better. In these cases, practical experience counts for far more than theoretical qualifications. For example, if you’re planning a transatlantic crossing, it will be very much in your favour if at least one of your crew has done a transatlantic crossing before.
  • Tell the insurer about any specific gear or equipment that has been (or will be) fitted to make the voyage safer – for example, self-steering, radar alarms and the like.
  • Consider having the boat surveyed and/or rig inspected by an independent qualified surveyor/rigger to confirm your vessel is capable of such a voyage.
Q. Is there a minimum crew size required by insurers for extended cruising?

This depends on the insurer and your answers to the questions above. Single-handed, round the world voyages are very difficult to get insurance for (and regrettably, not something we’re able to cover). It’s the same for double-handed voyages – if one crew member is injured, you’re down to single-handed again. Most insurers are happier with three or more people – certainly for the long-distance voyages, for example across the Atlantic, or down from the UK to the Mediterranean. Ultimately, however, it will depend on the experience of your crew.

Q. I’m planning an extended cruise – what if I can’t get insured for the whole trip?

Don’t panic. Any extended cruising trip is likely to be a long one, especially if you’re going the whole way round the world. Boat insurance policies will be written on an annual basis, and should at least be able to provide cover as far as your next destination, or near to it. If, for example, you can’t get boat insurance in the US, arrange it with the local market when you arrive in the Caribbean. As long as effective cover is in place at the time of arrival in any port, you can stay there while solving the problem of the next stage. The locals understand the market, and will be able to provide your boat insurance needs for that region.

USING YOUR BOAT

Q. Who can drive my boat?

Apart from the restrictions noted below, boat insurance usually does cover anyone driving your boat with your permission. That said, minors under 18 years old are not normally covered to drive the vessel without an adult being on board and in charge at all times. 

If there’s someone who’ll regularly use your boat, with or without you being on board, it’s a good idea to inform the insurer. Give the person’s name, age, record, and experience, together with any claims history they may have.

Make sure anyone borrowing your boat is aware of any limitations in the policy – for example, about where the boat may be used or moored. Our Haven Knox-Johnston ‘All Weather’ boat insurance policy has this to say about who may drive your boat:

  • If you let someone else take charge of your vessel, you must make sure they have enough experience to do so safely.
  • There’s no liability cover for anyone operating, managing or working on the vessel who is employed by a shipyard, repair yard, marina, yacht club, sales agency, delivery contractor or similar organisation. So if anyone covered by these categories is going to drive your boat, it’s essential they confirm they have their own professional indemnity cover.
  • If you’re lending your boat for any form of compensation, this won’t be considered ‘private pleasure use’, but rather ‘hire or reward’. Hire or reward is normally excluded under insurance policies unless insurers have given their prior agreement to such use.
  • If you’re arranging for a delivery skipper to sail or deliver your vessel, you should get a copy of the skipper and crew’s sailing CV, and make sure they have the appropriate professional indemnity in place – insurers often want to see this before agreeing cover. 


The above is for information purposes only. It’s not intended to define legal terms, or to affect the interpretation of any policy we may issue. If you have any questions about your insurance, the best thing to do is get your particular questions answered individually by your insurance broker or insurer.