Boat Ownership: Here are 8 Common Boat Insurance Policy Exclusions to Watch Out For

Boat Ownership: Here are 8 Common Boat Insurance Policy Exclusions to Watch Out For

Are you always interested in boating across the lake or simply travel by boat to a particular destination? If so, then you might want to consider to own a boat.  But before you buy one, you need to be aware of a few things, such as boat insurance, rules and regulations, and so on.  In this article, we’ll cover the topic of insurances for your boat: What do you need and how not to get less than what you’re paying for – among other issues. Read on to learn more.

First time boat ownership can involve a steep learning curve. Some of this, such as getting to grips with your very own craft, is exciting. The same cannot be said of the admin side of things – and a typical boat insurance policy is a case in point.

As with all insurance policies, you need to ensure that you’re not getting less than you bargained for; something that can be tough to work out if you’re unfamiliar with the territory. Your first port of call should be to talk things through with a specialist marine insurer such as Bishop Skinner who have significant experience in helping boat owners get it right. Key to this is understanding what’s not included in a typical policy, so you’re not caught out. With this in mind, here’s a rundown of commonly encountered exclusions…


1. Wear and tear

Your insurance policy will usually not cover loss through gradual deterioration; something that should remind you of how important it is to maintain your boat. If it’s a new model, the supplier should provide you with detailed maintenance guidance, so be sure to follow it. For an older boat purchased from a private seller, detailed specific guidance may not be available, in which case you should consider getting advice from a marine engineer.

2. Gradual breakdown

Latent mechanical damage is generally included in policies. This covers the type of situation where a fault exists but this only becomes apparent at some point after purchase. Gradual breakdown, by contrast, is often excluded. As with general maintenance, it’s important to follow manufacturers’ guidelines regarding maintenance of technical equipment. This includes, for instance, changing the oil at the recommended intervals.

3. Corrosion

This is a further standard exclusion linked to good housekeeping. It is especially relevant for those boats that are exposed to saltwater usage. Again, to mitigate the effects of it, consult best practice guidelines for your particular model. Typically, this will stipulate the need for a freshwater wash after each sea outing and the use of marine boatwash solution. The specifics will be determined by the type of exterior finish of your boat.

4. Electrolysis

You will typically see this exclusion listed alongside corrosion. Electrolysis is also known as electrochemical corrosion and arises down to the fact that a non-neutral voltage is created when metals are suspended in water. It can gradually give rise to various types of damage, including blistering and corrosion to propellers, prop shafts and hulls. Refer to specific guidelines for your boat and/or consult an engineer to prevent/mitigate the effects of it.

5. Improper repair

In these circumstances, your remedy is to claim against the repairers. It highlights how important it is to only use a reputable repairer – and one that has adequate liability insurance cover in place.

Boating to the sea

6. Inadequate cold weather storage

Policies tend to distinguish between sudden, unexpected and unforeseeable cold snaps, as opposed to “freezing or contact with ice when the condition is expected or anticipated and the insured watercraft was not prepared for cold weather storage”.

In short, you should anticipate and prepare for winter – and not expect your insurer to pick up the tab in the event of your failure to do so.

7. Improper overland transportation

This includes situations where the weight of the boat exceeds the recommended maximum load of the trailer or towing vehicle.

The lesson is that cutting corners when moving your boat from A to B could leave you without a remedy.

8. Recklessness

Whereas damage caused or contributed to by negligent actions is covered, damage caused by reckless acts are excluded.

The actions you take should be those of a reasonably competent boat owner and handler. An unintentional and temporary lapse from this, such as a simple error of judgement when piloting, is likely to be deemed negligent. Recklessness is a step beyond this; where you recognise and yet wilfully ignore the risks. Examples may include dangerous horseplay on deck, taking the boat out when it is clearly unseaworthy or taking charge of the boat when under the influence of alcohol.


Exclusions are just one aspect of the boat insurance policy to pay attention to. Seek specialist boat insurance advice to ensure you get the cover required for your particular circumstances.

Good luck in your boat ownership endeavor – and happy traveling!

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