Can you answer these 7 questions about your marine insurance?

RACV Marine

boats in dock

Marine insurance probably isn’t the first thing you think about when you head out on the water. And yet, it’s an important aspect of boat ownership.

It’s a fact of life that accidents, thefts and mishaps occur all the time, yet many boaters don’t fully understand what they’re covered for. When we finally do start thinking about a marine insurance policy, it’s often after an incident has already occurred.

So just how much do you know about your boat insurance cover?

Ask yourself these seven questions. If you find you couldn’t quite recall some answers, then it may be time to revisit your policy — or give RACV Marine a call on 13 72 28.

1) Do you know who can drive your boat?

Anyone who is legally licensed can drive a boat in Victoria — but are they covered by your marine insurance policy?

Boating is an inherently social activity where we often let others drive. While this is usually for the simple reason that we enjoy being on the water together, quite often another driver is needed for a more practical reason.

“Sometimes we need to have someone drive our boat because we’re water-skiing or wakeboarding, or we’re fishing and trolling,” says Neil James, General Manager at RACV Marine. If the weather blows up while you approach a crowded ramp, you might even have to jump in and steer while a family member takes the helm. Do you know if these drivers are covered under your policy?

2) Do you know exactly what’s covered… and for how much?

A boat is more than just a hull. All those components, from the motor (including trolling and auxiliary motors) to sails, spars and masts are obviously worth something. Then there are all those accessories: fishing gear and electronics, the fridge and TV, the stainless add-ons and even the canvas. When it comes to getting the right cover, it’s not just a case of making sure everything is covered, but also establishing how much those items are covered for.

“There’s a whole range of equipment that’s covered, and so you need to know exactly what’s covered in your policy and the value that it’s covered for,” says Neil James.

Most people can recall how much they paid for something, but can you recall if it’s covered in your policy? And if you need to make a claim, do you know what value all those parts are covered for?

And talking of accessories…

3) Are those new accessories covered?

Go to any boat show or chandlery and you’ll appreciate just how much people love to customise their boats. If there’s one thing we love almost as much as our craft, it’s spending thousands of dollars (and often more) on gear and accessories. Each year, manufacturers release a dazzling range of gadgets, toys and add-ons, from the latest lures to next-generation electronics.

Suppose you got a good deal at a show and after finally fitting the new transducer you can’t wait to try out that next-generation 3d fish finder. It might work beautifully on the water, but is that expensive new item covered in your policy?

“You need to be careful that you’ve always included those things in your policy, and know how they’ll be covered if you need to make a claim,” says Neil James.

4) Who is covered when your boat is on the ramp or being towed?

Did you know that a huge proportion of marine insurance claims are for incidents that occurred while the vessel was not actually on water?

Getting the right cover for when someone is driving the boat on the water is one thing. But do you know who is covered when the boat is being backed into the water?

RACV Marine (along with most insurance companies) requires at the very least that the driver be licensed. A valid driver’s licence is also a requirement if they’re driving your car and backing your boat into the water. It’s worth noting that the rules on the water are the same as those on the water in relation to alcohol and drugs.

So do you know who is covered to back your boat down the ramp?

5) Is how you use your boat accurately reflected in your policy?

How we use our boat can directly affect the premium that we pay. Sailboat owners might do a lot of weekend racing, whereas a wakeboat owner probably spends their time (unsurprisingly) wakeboarding. A family runabout is probably used differently again, with more time spent fishing, along with a bit of water skiing.

Regardless of how your boat is used, it’s important to understand what is covered. Sometimes, certain activities may require an additional premium. And don’t forget that heading offshore is yet another important consideration.

6) Are you covered for engine breakdowns?

Typically, motor breakdowns are not covered by marine insurance. And while it may seem obvious, you may not be covered if you’re driving a boat that is overpowered (according to the manufacturer’s guidelines) or have a boat that is overloaded.

“All these things can affect your policy, so, it’s important that you understand these well before you need to make a claim,” says Neil James.

7) Are you paying too much for when you’re not using your boat?

In the southern states, fewer people use their boats during winter. So if your boat doesn’t head out during this period, why pay as if it were being used?

A popular option at RACV Marine (and at a number of other insurance companies), is layup cover. Basically, it allows you to insure your boat at a different level during winter (or during a period when you’re not using your boat). This means you pay less during this time.

Another option for reducing your premium is to opt for a higher excess. This means that you pay an additional fee should you need to make a claim, but long-term it reduces your premium.

RACV Marine would never recommend that you under-insure your boat. However, it’s highly recommended that you check out the RACV Marine insurance options, as these can help reduce your premium.

The final word

“Boat insurance is not necessarily as complicated as you might think,” says Neil James. “But it’s always important to read the product disclosure statement from your insurer, to make sure that you’re getting the cover that you need, for the amounts that you want, for the way that you use your boat,” he says.

Want to know more? Contact RACV Marine or call Call 13 72 28.

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