Is my boat covered when it’s out of the water?

It seems boats can be costly even when they’re out of the water.

As boaties make the most of the last of the warm weather, IAG NZ has looked back at boat-related claims made in the last year and found that accidents involving boats on the road or even at home while parking can be as costly and inconvenient as accidents that happen on the water.

The message seems to be: take extra care when you’re with your boat, whether you’re on land or at sea.

Looking at our claims data, we can see that many accidents happened while boats were off the water and being towed. A helpful tip is to remember the reduced speed limit for towing trailers and the limitations of what your car can safely tow. Take into consideration the weight of your boat, the type of trailer you have and how easily you can brake and turn – crucial manoeuvres like these will help you stay out of trouble on the road.

Extra care is needed when getting boats in or out of the water. Our claims data shows that a number of claims are made as a result of an accident that has happened while loading or launching a sea vessel.

Once on the water a different range of risks need to be considered. Some may be out of your control such as submerged objects like logs or rocks. If you don’t know it’s there, there’s not much you can do about it. Likewise, there is a limit to how much you can do to avoid a rogue wave. But vigilance is the best piece of advice. Look closely for signals such as unusual patterns on the water. Watch your speed and take note of the movement and routes taken by other vessels; these can suggest safe courses to steer.

IAG NZ’s data shows that almost six in ten boat claims (58%) made last year related to accidents on the water and off the water, with the average claim for a boat accident costing more than $4,000. Boat owners also face the risk of burglary (14% of all claims), damage as a result of storms (4% of all claims) and fire (2% of all claims). So it’s no wonder insurance has its place in the tackle bag of boaties.

A common question we hear at IAG NZ is: “Do I need any special boat insurance or will my usual contents insurance policy cover any damage incurred?”.

IAG’s claims expert Chris Kiddey says you definitely shouldn’t assume that your contents policy will provide cover to any kind of boat. “AMI’s Advanced Contents policy covers only ‘watercrafts’ that are worth less than $500 while State’s Comprehensive Contents policy allows $2,000,” Chris said.

“Most seafarers will know that $2,000 isn’t much when talking about boats. Both policies are designed to give some piece of mind for lightweight and more common water toys such as the kids’ kayaks, but both State and AMI offer specialised boat insurance to their customers.” Chris said.

The next question is how much does boat insurance cost? That depends on how much your boat costs and how much boating experience you have among other factors. That’s why it’s best to discuss your needs with your insurer to get a specific quote.

In the meantime, to give you a general idea of what boat insurance could cost you, here’s an example:

Matt lives around Auckland city and is aged over 55. He owns a 2005 Haines Hunter SS700 Hardtop valued at $84000. His boat has a Yamaha engine 200HP, Voyager tandem braked trailer with Trojan tow ball lock. Matt’s AMI boat insurance premium will be around $1,000 annually with an excess of $100.

That’s a standard quote but there are factors to consider that could help you make a saving on your premium. For example, if you have a New Zealand boat master/skipper certificate, or are willing to increase your excess, or have multiple insurance policies with one insurer; this may reduce your boat insurance premium.

Although boat insurance can cover some of your risks, it is important to note that you still need to take reasonable care of your boat otherwise its likely your insurance won’t cover you.

“The most common type of claim not covered in 2015 was for the breakdown or failure of equipment, often due to maintenance or wear and tear issues,” Chris added. “This sort of claim is almost never covered by insurance companies because boat owners are expected to take reasonable care of their boat, just like you need to take good care of your home and car.”

Maritime New Zealand indicated that one in five households own at least one boat, and predicted that 27% of New Zealanders will own at least one boat by 2031. To help boat owners’ peace of mind while out they’re out on the water, IAG NZ also recommends you to pay close attention to Water Safety New Zealand’s Boating Safety Code, take note of their list of essential equipment and consider taking a ‘Day Skipper’ course. After all, insurance might cover damage to your boat, but the safety of you, friends and family is far more important.

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