Frequently Asked Questions

Insuring your boat

Introduction to insuring your boat

If you've recently bought a boat or are thinking about changing insurance companies, this guide may help you decide the sort of policy you need.

The level of cover and service provided by different insurance companies can vary greatly. Bear in mind that a cheaper policy may end up costing you more if you make a claim.

Everyone's needs are different, and only you can decide if wider cover is important to you. It is essential to understand what is being offered to you before making an informed decision. Some key aspects to consider are:

  • Comprehensive Cover  –  will provide cover for your boat against accidental damage, theft, fire and vandalism.
  • Third Party Liability  –  You should not consider going afloat without liability insurance, which will cover you if you cause damage to another boat or injury to someone.
  • Racing – Other insurers may charge you an additional premium for cover whilst racing. If you race without paying an additional premium you may not be covered.
  • New-For-Old cover  –  This will replace damaged items with new, but check whether there is an age limit on your equipment. For instance if you were to break a ten year old mast, some companies would replace this with a new mast of equivalent specification, others would only pay out what they considered to be the mast's value at the time of loss, leaving you to fund the difference.
  • Policy Excess  –  This is the first portion of any claim you will have to pay.

You should always check what cover is being offered before signing up.

Do I need to use a specialist marine insurance company?

No. Many general insurance brokers will be able to arrange your insurance, but they may not have the necessary expertise to advise you correctly.

How can I be sure the insurance company I choose is reliable?

Your policy is only as good as the service you receive if you have to submit a claim. Why not speak to your fellow sailors, for their comments regarding which insurers provide good (or bad) service to their clients.

Why do I need third party liability cover?

A minimum of £2 million Third Party Liability cover is usually required by waterways, marinas and harbour authorities although some require higher limits. You should not consider going on the water without this cover as a minimum. A policy providing third party liability should cover you if you were to cause damage to property or injury to another person.

So even if it is not required by the local authority you should not consider going on the water without this cover as a minimum.

Cover is normally provided for a named boat. Some policies cover another person using your boat with your permission, but some will only cover named individuals. Check your policy if you are unsure.

It is unlikely that you would be covered to use someone else's boat under your own policy so if you are borrowing another boat you should always check with the boat's owner that you are insured to use it.

Should I expect a standard policy to cover my dinghy while I'm not sailing (ie, when my boat is sitting on the drive or while I'm travelling?)

Comprehensive policies should cover your boat against accidental damage, theft, fire and vandalism, whether in use or not. However there may be restrictions on your policy. Boats should be securely tied down, trailers locked and / or immobilised when not in use, and equipment stored beneath your cover or taken home after use, if possible. It is relatively common for mice, rats or other rodents to make nests in your sails if stored in your boat.

If they do, your sail will become eaten and stained. Not all insurance policies will cover this eventuality.

Would my trolley and trailer be covered?

Most policies can be extended, by payment of an additional premium, to include these items. Claims would be limited to either the market value at the time of loss or the sum specified on the Policy Schedule whichever is the lesser amount. It may be a requirement of the policy that trailers are immobilised and / or locked when not in use.

To what extent would my equipment be covered on a standard policy (ie, sails, spars etc)?

Some insurers will only pay claims based on a percentage of the new replacement cost of your mast spars or sails, dependant on its age, leaving you to fund the difference. Typically, insurance companies will only pay two thirds of the replacement price on equipment over three years old.

The dinghy policy offered by Noble Marine will pay the full replacement cost of your mast, spars or sails, damaged beyond repair, irrespective of age up to the sum insured. All you need to pay is your policy excess.

For other craft types we will pay the full replacement cost of your mast, spars or sails, damaged beyond repair, up to 3 years old and up to three quarters over 3 years - up to the sum insured.

Does it matter who is in charge of my boat?

This will depend on the type of boat you are insuring. Usually for sailing dinghies and other small craft cover can be extended to allow anyone to sail your boat with your permission, however with larger craft, powerboats, RIBs and Jet Skis it may be restricted to named individuals or specify a minimum level of experience. If in doubt check with your insurers.

In all circumstances you should ensure that the person using the boat is competent to do so or appropriately supervised at all times. 

What is legal expenses insurance?

Upon payment of an additional premium, some insurance policies can be extended to include legal representation if your boat is involved in a collision or other accident and you suffer financial loss or injury that is not covered by your own insurance policy. It will usually cover other legal matters relating to your ownership of the insured craft such as contract disputes. 

What about cover for sailing abroad?

This will vary, depending on the policy you have chosen. Always check with your insurance company before taking your boat abroad as some policies may not be able to offer overseas use and most will make an extra charge.

Is my boat covered when it's being towed?

Liability for damage caused to other people or their property whilst towing your boat should be covered by the motor insurance policy of the towing vehicle. Most motor insurers cover towing for personal use but you should check with them before doing so.

Most insurers cover your boat when it is being towed but check your policy carefully and contact your insurance company if you are not sure. Many insurers restrict road transit to boats under a certain length, 9 metres is quite a common limit.

Am I covered to allow my boat to be chartered or used for other commercial use?

Chartering your boat can be a good way to gain a useful contribution to your running costs but it does pose an increased risk to your boat in the same way that renting out a house or car would do. 

Insurance can be arranged but this is almost always at an additional charge and many insurers will not offer charter or commercial use at all.

If you receive money, other than friends or family contributing to running costs, you must tell your insurers before doing so.

Am I automatically covered to tow water skiers and water toys?

Most insurers do not including liability cover for towing skiers and toys as standard. This will usually be at an additional charge and may have special conditions or requirements around the safe operation of towing, it is very important that you understand these additional requirements and comply with them as it may invalidate your cover if you don't apply them when a claim occurs.

Do I need insurance when my boat is laid up ashore?

This is up to you although many yards and storage facilities will insist that you have a minimum of third party liability cover.

Although you expect your boat to stay safe when laid up we do see a number of claims every year so we would recommend you maintain comprehensive cover all year round. 

Am I covered for racing?

Most insurers charge extra for racing cover and may also restrict the cover under the policy, depending on the craft type.

Cover for sailing dinghies and other small craft is usually available but not always automatically included so you should check before going to an event.

Cover for racing motor boats, RIBs or Jetskis is not usually available.

Is my outboard motor covered?

You will normally have to specify additional equipment such as outboard engines but these can be included in your policy. Most insurers will specify security conditions for storage such as being removed to a locked building when not in use or require them to be attached by security bolts.

Am I covered to sail for 12 months of the year?

In most cases the answer is 'yes' although some insurers charge extra for using your boat in winter months.

Some policies may stipulate that a boat is laid-up ashore for certain times of the year, restrict the cruising area or prohibit certain navigations.

This may be down to the mooring location or the type of boat.

Are all marine insurance policies the same?

The simple answer is 'no'.

Cover can vary considerably and you must check the policy carefully before buying to ensure you don't get any nasty surprises should you need to make a claim.

It is important to make sure that you have included everything you need when you obtain quotations to make sure you have a fair comparison.


When will I need to obtain a survey for my boat?

Most insurers will not require a survey for dinghies and other small craft but this can vary.

For other craft types insurers usually require a survey for any boat aged 20 years old or more, and then every five years or so. Some boats may require a survey earlier than this if they have sustained serious damage, if they are wooden or if they have been self-built.

A list of local Surveyors can be found by searching our Surveyors Database.

Making a claim

Introduction to making a claim

Noble Marine encourages all clients to use the online claim form. This will significantly improve the speed of communicating with you, enabling authorisation of the repairs or replacement items to occur far more quickly.

If you have any questions relating to a claim please ring our Claims Team on 01636 675888 or contact them by email [email protected]

To assist you in finding a local repairer, our web site also has a directory of suppliers and repairers which is fully searchable by postcode or region.

Will Noble Marine pay the repairer direct?

Once the repairs have been completed the repairer may require the full amount to be paid before your boat is released to you. We are happy to arrange payment direct on receipt of an invoice or we can reimburse you should you pay the repairer. In all cases invoices should be forwarded to Noble Marine.

Who do I pay the policy excess to?

If you have had repairs carried out and we have agreed to pay the repairer direct then we will pay them the amount after deduction of your excess. You should then pay the excess to the repairer when he hands over the boat.

If you are seeking reimbursement from us having paid an invoice in full or we are making settlement following the total loss of your boat then we will make the payment to you for the agreed amount after deduction of your excess.

What happens after I submit my claim?

Once we have received your claim form we will confirm the claim is covered and how to proceed.

Sometimes more information may be required, or it may be necessary to communicate with the repairer or surveyor before authority can be given to proceed with the repairs. 

Whatever the circumstances we will keep you informed and do everything possible to get the claim dealt with in the shortest possible time.

If there is another party involved what details do I need to get?

Whenever an incident occurs and another boat is involved, take a note of the details of the other persons or boats involved. Also don't forget to obtain the details of any potential witnesses. This is not always easy whilst afloat, but note the name of the boat or the sail number and make contact once you are ashore. The information you might require would be:

  • The name and address of the person who was in charge of the other vessel.
  • Are they the owner of the boat? If not, the name and address of the boat's owners will be required.
  • Their insurance company and policy number if known.
  • Their boat name and / or sail number.

It is always useful to get photos of the damage to both boats where it's possible to do so as this helps us to establish who was responsible and also ensures that we only pay for damage caused by the incident.

How do I get my boat repaired?

You will also be required to arrange estimates for the repair or replacement items.

Usually only one estimate will be required. However if the costs involved are large, further estimates may be required or a Surveyor may be appointed to inspect the boat or oversee the repairs.

To assist you in finding a local repairer, our web site also has a directory of suppliers and repairers which is fully searchable by postcode or region.

Do I need to complete a claim form?

Yes, you will need to complete a form.

Noble Marine encourages all clients to use the online claim form. This will significantly improve the speed of communicating with you, enabling authorisation of the repairs or replacement items to occur far more quickly.

Still can’t find the answer? Contact us