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Set sail with peace of mind!

The boating season soon commences, and the waters surrounding our islands will once again be abounding with a myriad of watercrafts. Setting out with peace of mind requires some fore-thought, and the aim of this article is to present you with some tips relating to your craft maintenance, safety and insurance.


Keeping your boat or yacht in good condition, and ensuring that it is in a good state prior to the start of the season ensures that you are not faced with an expensive repair bill or perhaps with an insurance claim, not to mention the inconvenience of not being able to sail out with your boat!


Whether this is your first summer out in a boat or you are a seasoned sailor, a maintenance checklist is always useful to ensure you are fully prepared and you get the most out of your boat. Various checklists are available on line, one of which is BoatSafe.com "Preparing your boat for the season pre-season checklist available online at http://www.boatsafe.com/nauticalknowhow/spring99.htm. The list is exhaustive and author has also categorised this list for your convenience.


In addition to a maintenance checklist, you should also consider having a Safety Checklist. BoatSafe.com "Semi-annual Safety Checklist available online at http://www.boatsafe.com/nauticalknowhow/spring09checklist.htm  is a good starting point. For your own safety and of all onboard, always ensure that

- fire extinguishers are serviced and that your boat has the required quantities and type of fire extinguishers;

- vessel is equipped with personal flotation devices and that these are checked for wear or abrasion, weak or torn seams, secure straps and buckles;

- prepare a 'Float Plan' before starting a trip, and leave it ashore with a yacht club, marina, friend, or relative. A sample Float Plan is available online under the Download Section;

- remember to take your VHF radio with you


What about insurance? For your peace of mind, ensure that you are adequately covered.  Getting the cheapest policy without giving due attention to the cover may land you into problems in the event of a loss. So, always aim in getting the policy which is right for you!


Ensure that the Cruising Limits and the In-Commission Period noted on your policy schedule satisfy your requirements. If planning to sail outside Maltese Territorial Waters, ensure that this is allowed under your policy and you hold the necessary certificates. Certain insurers require pre-notification to issue the certificates required by the country you are planning to visit.


Do check for any limitations on your policy such as the Underwater Gear or Propeller Fouling Limit. A number of policies, irrespective whether the craft is a small boat, sailing yacht or cabin cruiser, limit damage to Underwater Gear. The limit may range from €2,500 to €6,000. A number of insurers are in a position to remove such limitation or offer cover with a higher limit, more suited to your requirements.


It is also important that you are familiar with the Claims Procedure and the Basis of Settlement on your policy. Whilst the Claims Procedure sets out the procedure to be adopted in case of a loss, the Basis of Settlement will assist you in deciding whether the sum insured noted on your policy is adequate or otherwise.


The Level of Cover from one insurer to another differs. A number of policies go beyond offering a basic cover and may include additional covers such as cover for personal effects, personal accident for crew and passengers, medical expenses cover, 'get you home cover' and water sports cover to name a few.  On the other hand, if own damage is not required, third party liability policies are available to cover your liabilities only.


The Third Party Limit (also known as Limit of Liability) differs from one insurer to another, with €235,000 being the lowest limit offered by local insurers. Higher limits of €470,000 and €600,000 may be offered, depending on the type of craft. A number of insurers are also in a position to offer limits in the region of €2 Million. Ideally, you should aim for a Third Party Limit of not less than €470,000, €600,000 or higher being the preferred option if your boat is berthed in a marina, home to or close to, high valued yachts.


If planning to participate in club races, ensure that policy is extended to cover Racing Risks. Unless extended, damage to sails, masts etc whilst participating in racing is not covered. Insurers would require that you declare the sum insured for sails, masts etc on replacement value. May we highlight that a number of locally underwritten policies will only pay the lesser of the repair cost or 70% (2/3rds) of the replacement cost of the sails, masts etc. Only a few policies provide cover without applying a 70% or 2/3rds limit.


One last recommendation, be aware and knowledgeable of the Warranties on your policy. A breach of warranty may void cover! Warranties may either be included in your policy wording or be specific to your policy by means of an endorsement. The latter would normally be highlighted during quotation stage or at renewal.


It is not responsible to go out at sea with a boat not properly maintained, lacking basic safety equipment or without adequate boat or yacht insurance. Saving money should not be at the expense of what is right.


About the author

Norbert Cordina is a Manager within the Commercial Department at Island Insurance Brokers Limited.

For more information and how we can assist you with your boat/yacht insurance requirement, call on T. 238 55 600 or E. n.cordina@islandins.com