Don’t let bad winter weather sink your boat

boat insuranceDarker nights and harsher winter weather mean most boating enthusiasts are dropping anchor until the spring.

However, insurers are warning laying up boats for the winter often leads to more claims on boat insurance than the warmer and lighter months when vessels are out on the sea, rivers and canals.

On average, claims jump by a fifth (19%) in January – the month when boats are least likely to be used, according to pleasure boat insurers Navigators and General (N&G).

Surprisingly, more boats are damaged by storms when they are laid up onshore, with N&G estimating bad weather claims more than double to 113% compared with other months.

As a result, insurers are warning boat owners to prepare for bad winter weather by –

  • Lagging engines or moving them inside to avoid frost damage
  • Clearing drain holes to stop boats filling with water and sinking
  • Stowing masts and sails to avoid wind damage
  • Mooring or laying up boats away from trees and structures that could fall on to them

Checking boats regularly can also stop minor damage turning into a bigger problem, say insurers.

Simon Tonks, a marine insurance expert said: “Freezing temperatures, driving rain and high winds make boats vulnerable in winter months.

“The importance of a properly laid-up boat should not be underestimated. Spring may seem a long way off, but by taking a few key measures to protect your boat could help avoid a tragedy during the winter.

“Over just a few months, ropes can wear, fenders burst, bilge pump batteries run down, sails become unfurled, cockpit drains block with leaves and lines work lose.

“While boat insurance is there for if the worst happens, most policies will not cover damage caused by leaks or vessels which have not been properly maintained.”

Insurers also recommend safeguarding valuable equipment by disconnecting and removing electronic equipment like GPS, radios and other devices.

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