Is boat insurance to protect against any event at sea compulsory?

boat insurance

Owners of yachts, monohull or multihull sailboats, river cruisers, boats with habitable or non-habitable motors, jet-skis, inflatable boats, etc. are not required to take out boat insurance. However, going out to sea, or even on a river, is never without risk. This is why effective care of the crew and any passengers, but also of the body of the ship and the equipment and goods on board is strongly recommended in order to benefit from all the necessary assistance and avoid paying sums consequences in the event of a disaster.

Among the potential dangers to which browsers are exposed, here is a list of the most common:

  • Theft of the boat or plunder at sea or during transport;
  • Boarding, sabotage;
  • Fire, explosion;
  • Collision with a rock, another boat in navigation, a breakwater or the pontoon, or a UFO (unidentified floating object) resulting in material damage;
  • Collision with a swimmer or skier resulting in bodily injury;
  • Fall of a passenger in the water requiring research, care, or even the payment of capital in the event of death;
  • Shipwreck or grounding, in particular following a storm or due to a maneuvering error;
  • Damage occurs during wintering.

It is advisable to check the clauses of multi-risk home insurance because it is possible that it integrates the civil liability guarantee of a boat or a sailboat.

Similarly, any licensee of a club affiliated with the FFV (French Sailing Federation) has the Civil Liability guarantee subscribed by the federation for a sporting practice. Failing this, a subscription to an independent insurance policy is required.

And in general, a “third party” contract is rarely sufficient. Depending on the craft and intended use, more comprehensive coverage may also be required. In addition, a certificate of boat insurance is required for access to certain marinas, in particular for those who plan to sail abroad.

What are the different boat insurance guarantees?

Boat insurance includes various types of guarantees, making up two types of contracts:

  • Third-party insurance: in addition to the essential Civil Liability, it includes a retirement guarantee outside the stranding zone, as well as a defense/recourse guarantee;
  • Multi-risk insurance: it offers more extensive coverage, with compensation in the event of material damage or bodily injury to persons and goods transported.

The warranties that cover the boat

  • Hull insurance for repairs to material damage suffered during navigation;
  • Total or partial theft or attempted burglary cover;
  • Loss and damage cover in the event of a fire, impact, or collision against a fixed, mobile, or floating body, vandalism/sabotage, grounding/shipwreck, fire/explosion;
  • The hidden defects guarantee to turn against the seller if the boat presents anomalies (pierced hull, defective parts);
  • Coverage of assistance and towing costs at sea;
  • Covering the costs of refloating or removing the wreck;
  • Land travel cover relating to damage suffered by a boat while being towed on land or while on land.

Warranties that cover equipment

  • outboard motor and accessory theft cover;
  • cover for theft of passengers’ personal property;
  • cover for theft or damage to navigation and safety equipment.

The guarantees that cover, for people on board

  • the payment of medical expenses in the event of injury due to an accident or “marital fortune”;
  • repatriation cover if injured people have to be transferred to hospital,
  • if people have died, or when the boat has broken down off the coast;
  • payment of search and rescue costs at sea;
  • the payment of a lump sum in the event of death, invalidity, or total or partial incapacity.

Additional guarantees

  • criminal defense and recourse following a claim

The scope of guarantees

In addition to the diversity of guarantees, it is essential to compare their scope, because there is no standard boat insurance contract. When putting several bids into the competition, the following points must be scrupulously checked:

  • the conditions for activating the guarantee;
  • exclusions (lack of maintenance, freezing, drunk driving, etc.);
  • the guaranteed capital;
  • the compensation ceiling;
  • franchises.


How is the price of boat insurance determined?

Since boat insurance is very specific protection, its cost varies according to the needs of its owner and the intended use of the boat.

Several criteria are therefore taken into account when calculating the applicable rate.

  • The characteristics of the boat: age, size, economic value, type (sailing or motor), engine power (number of HP) if applicable, number of kilometers already covered, equipment available, fittings, etc.
  • The navigation area covered: river or ocean, distance from the home port;
  • The intended use: boating, deep-sea fishing, sports competition, etc.
  • The duration of navigation over 12 months;
  • Browser crash history;
  • The people to be included in the coverage: crew, family members…
  • The guarantees are taken out: civil liability, damage to the boat, bodily accidents, assistance, rescue, etc.
  • The scope: if the insured wishes coverage from 0 nautical miles, that is to say when the boat is at the quay, the premium increases;
  • Possible options.

Based on these different elements, the annual amount to be paid for a basic yachting formula without options is around 100 euros. For a multi-risk contract, it takes about triple or quadruple each year, insofar as the multiplication of guarantees logically pulls the price up.


How to pay less for boat insurance adapted to your needs?

The main insurance companies offer boat insurance packages, but there are also specialist companies. In addition, the contracts are very different depending on the type of boat, but also the guarantees and their scope.

Before requesting quotes from insurers or performing simulations on free online insurance comparators, it is essential to take stock of your needs.

Indeed, depending on the yachtsman, his needs, and his budget, guarantees can be essential, highly recommended, or superfluous.

A number of questions should be asked to define these needs.

  • What is the type of boat: monohull/multihull, sailing/motor, number of “inboard”/”outboard” engines?
  • What is the value of the boat?
  • What type of navigation is practiced or envisaged: river, coastal, canal, high seas?
  • What is the navigation area?
  • Do personal effects need to be insured against theft and/or loss?
  • Do the annexes also have to be guaranteed?
  • Do the people on board have to be insured: family members, crew?

The answers to these questions allow you to make a relevant choice between the different branches of boat insurance:

  • marine insurance, which covers loss and damage to vessels working in the merchant navy;
  • fishing vessel insurance, which covers loss and damage as well as third-party claims and other expenses resulting from an accident or sinking;
  • boating insurance, which applies in the event of theft, fire, collision, or sinking while boating;
  • regatta insurance, which provides compensation for claims occurring during local and corporate or professional regattas;
  • river insurance, which concerns material and bodily damage caused while navigating on a river.

A few ways to pay less for your boat insurance

Choose your guarantees wisely

The more guarantees are taken out, the higher the annual insurance premium. Once your needs have been defined, you must integrate the essential guarantees by limiting the options that increase the bill.

Switch to a less powerful model

Power is a key criterion for calculating the price of boat insurance. For example, the yacht, compared to the pleasure boat, is bigger and more powerful and can cover greater distances, which requires specific protection. If the boat has not yet been acquired, it is better to opt for a low-power model in order to also save on insurance.

Compare offers from several companies

As with any insurance contract, sorting out the multiple proposals available is essential in order to find the cover best suited to your expectations at the best price. On dedicated online sites, it only takes a few minutes to fill out a form and see the formulas that meet it displayed.

Adopt a higher deductible

Some insurers accept the adjustment of the amount of the deductible upwards or downwards. This sum, which must be paid by the insured after payment of the compensation, has a significant influence on the price, because the higher it is (the insured agrees to take on a large part of the costs caused by a claim), the cheaper will be the premium.

Consolidate your insurance contracts

Generalist companies that offer all types of contracts grant reductions to customers who take out several protections with their establishment. It’s an interesting way to get good boat insurance coverage at a good price.

Cancel and change your boat insurance

If the insured finds boat insurance that is more financially attractive, or if his needs have changed, he can terminate and replace his contract each year by sending a registered letter to the insurer no later than two months before the expiry date. If this deadline is not respected, renewal is automatic, and the full membership fee is due for the coming year.

By Master James

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