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Dinghy insurance 101

Dinghy sailing is a popular way to take to the water, but with dinghies becoming increasingly valuable they are also becoming more popular targets for thieves.  This means that insurance is becoming an important consideration for many dinghy sailors.

In this article, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about dinghy insurance.

Do I need dinghy insurance?

In most UK waters it is not a legal requirement to have boat insurance, but most sailing clubs, marinas and council run lakes or slipways will require you to have third party indemnity insurance up to £3m.

In addition you can insure your dinghy against loss or damage so that if your dinghy is damaged and requires repair or is destroyed or stolen you will be protected financially.

What type of dinghy can I insure?

With Bishop Skinner you can insure anything from an Optimist or a flying foiling Moth to the mighty ex-Olympic class Flying Dutchman. We also insure rowing boats, stand-up paddle boards, windsurfs and canoes.

What can I insure against?

Equipment and fittings

Modern dinghies are packed with high-tech materials and fittings that often become damaged. In addition, some of these items are highly desirable to thieves and can be stolen.

Masts and rigging

Masts and rigging operate under high tensions and can break, sails consequentially become damaged. All of these things can be covered by an insurance policy. 

Collision

Even if you don’t race, you may be involved in a collision. This might involve damage to your own boat as well as boats or property owned by third parties. Even more seriously, you might cause injury to other people. This can all be covered under a specialist third party indemnity policy.

Road risk

Your dinghy or trailer may become damaged in a road traffic accident. It is unlikely that this will be covered under your motor insurance, but a boat insurance policy will cover such incidents.

 Generally dinghy insurance policies cover:

  • Accidental damage.
  • Weather related damage.
  • Theft and malicious damage.
  • Road transit cover.
  • Third party risks.

They typically exclude:

  • General wear and tear.
  • Corrosion and rust. 

What does it cost?

Most dinghy policies are ‘packages’ that cover both damage to your own boat as well as damage to others, but you can buy third party only policies from as little as £25 per year.

If you wish to be protected against damage to your own craft you will need a comprehensive package. The cost of this will vary according to the type and value of the boats to be insured.

Dinghies premiums are calculated according to the boat’s performance, so generally the faster the design, the higher the group and higher the premium – similar to a sports car. A quick search online will give you a flavour of the costs involved.

What are the common types of claims

Collisions and broken masts make up the majority of the claims we see.

Collisions

Dinghy collisions are often interesting to deal with as the claims department will often receive two different versions of the same event from each party. When stories differ wildly, it has been known for brokers to double check that both parties were actually sailing the same water on the same day!

These incidents often become very emotive with both parties insisting they are in the right. Brokers often need to have extensive knowledge of the racing rules and collision regulations to resolve these cases.

Breakages

Breakages and in particular breakage of masts are our most common claims. Modern carbon masts can often be repaired rather than replaced but modern materials in sails are often difficult to repair with replacement being the logical answer.

Weather

Sometimes localised freak weather can cause devastation with large amounts of losses in a specific area. For example, last year on Hayling Island a tornado swept through a corridor no more than half a mile wide. Unfortunately for the dinghy owners and the insurance market alike, a dinghy park was directly in its path.

Fortunately injury claims in dinghies are rare, but they do happen from time to time.

What can I do to help protect my dinghy?

Most policies require you to keep your boat well maintained and safe from obvious dangers. For example if the boat is going to spend the winter at a sailing club on its trailer or trolley, it should be tied down and secured with a protective cover, and all loose gear including the sails removed to safe storage. 

With storms more prevalent during the winter months, in some parts of the country damage is inevitable. Rigging should be checked to ensure none of the wires are broken, and trailer bearings need to be checked and greased as they often seize resulting in consequential damage to the boat.

Where can I take my boat?

Most policies will cover you anywhere in the UK, both coastal and inland lakes and rivers. Some policies will allow you to take your boat into Europe for 30 days at a time.

If you require longer this is generally available but subject to negotiation and probably a slightly higher premium and as it is usually more expensive to ship parts overseas in the event of a claim. We can even cover dinghies generally on a world wide basis for those people that take part in world championships.

How do I get the right cover?

Simply contact a specialist dinghy insurance broker. As the RYA’s recommended broker we are always happy to talk to RYA members about their requirements and give advice on the types of insurance available.