Top 10 reasons boaters contact their insurance company

What incidents most frequently prompt insurance claims for boaters? How likely is it for something to go wrong while you're at sea? Discover the most common scenarios that might land you in a situation requiring insurance assistance.

For a long time, we've been wondering exactly what the most common mishaps that occur at sea are, leading to boat damages and insurance calls. So, we decided to dive into every piece of data, chart, and report out there. Our goal? To provide you with a detailed rundown of the most frequent challenges encountered by sailors, whether they're out on the vast ocean or navigating calm freshwater lakes. Of course, our hope is for everyone to experience smooth sailing, but being informed about potential hiccups is always handy.

Elements of nature

For sailors primarily navigating the Mediterranean waters, such mishaps might seem a bit far-fetched. However, don't be lulled into a false sense of security. Even in the Med, you can come across "Medicanes" (a combination of 'Mediterranean' and 'hurricane') which have been known to affect places like Greece from time to time. When we explore maritime accident records, especially off the US coast or in exotic locations, traditional hurricanes and other meteorological disturbances often feature prominently. It's disheartening to realize that even the most seasoned captain can feel powerless against the forces of nature. It's definitely challenging to dodge or mitigate the effects of such unpredictable weather conditions but it's not always about the major events like Medicanes; even a typical storm can be a handful for sailors.

It is a sad sight to see the bays and harbours where heavy storms and winds were raging.

It is a sad sight to see the bays and harbours where heavy storms and winds were raging.

Collision with another boat

The question of who's at fault in an accident often takes a back seat. The important thing is that collisions with other boats have always happened and always will, especially in ports during manoeuvres. Whether it's a direct hit or merely a superficial scrape, it's no small matter. Salty water is unforgiving, slowly eating away at any chip or scratch in the paint, threatening to swell the lower layers of the laminate and beyond. Hull abrasion can also occur if large waves build up in the marina or in the bay and the boats get slammed against each other. The breakwaters are of course designed to prevent this, but occasionally waves from large ferries or fast motor boats do reach the pier. Any significant damage to a boat's exterior often leads to an insurance

YACHTING.COM TIP: Check out our tips on how to keep a cool head when manoeuvring your boat and handle everything with your left foot.  We've put it all together for you in our article — How to handle port manoeuvres smoothly.

A collision can destroy the laminate.

A collision can destroy the laminate.

Fire on board

It might come as a shock, but fire is a frequent culprit behind boat accidents. In fact, it tops the chart for insurance claims globally. While you'd think fires wouldn't last on water, they're notoriously tough to put out, especially when caused by issues like engines, stoves, or gas leaks. Given the confined space in a boat, the fumes from any blaze can pose severe health risks. Plus, there's the danger of a gas explosion or the fire spreading to nearby boats if moored close to a pier.

YACHTING.COM TIP: To find out what to do, check out our article Read the article — Fire on board and how to prevent it.

The fire on the ship is spreading very quickly.

Fire on a boat spreads quickly.

Theft of boat or equipment

Theft in ports is, unfortunately, a reality, especially at urban docks. It can begin with something seemingly minor, like swiping a fender or a gangplank, but it doesn't stop there. Sometimes thieves break into the heart of the boat to snatch up more valuable items and they have been to known to even take the whole boat. It's not common knowledge, but deposit insurance does offer protection against such thefts and vandalism. If you're curious, take a look at our 5 reasons to take out deposit insurance or check out firsthand accounts from our clients — Charter boat deposit insurance in practice: our clients' experiences.

Reaching the seabed

Every captain keeps an eye on the depth gauge. Yet, distractions happen; an unseen obstacle might be lurking, or the underwater map might be sketchy in places. Running aground on sand can often be sorted by just steering the boat out. But if you're stuck solid and the boat won't budge, calling in another boat and initiating a rescue can be costly.

YACHTING.COM TIP: When checking in, always clarify if the depth gauge reads in feet or metres, and whether measurements are from the waterline or the keel. It's easy to get confused; imagine thinking you have 10 metres below when actually, it's just 10 feet and you can spot the seabed!

Underwater damage you don't notice

You don't need to ground your boat to get a scratch on the keel or propeller. The undercoat can often get scraped by an anchor chain, brushing against a submerged rock, or hitting driftwood and other sea debris. You might think, "Well, who's going to check underneath?", assuming you can return the hired boat and pretend nothing's amiss. But that's where you'd be wrong. Most charter companies will have a diver inspect the boat's underside during check-out. If they spot any damage to the keel or propeller, you could lose your deposit. So, if there's significant damage to the boat's bottom paint, it's bound to get noticed.

The diver is about to dive to the ship and see if the bottom is destroyed.

A diver about to check the underside of the boat.

Damage to health

For those who have spent time on a boat, it's no surprise that accidents can happen, particularly with novice crews on board. From slips and trips, rope burns, unfortunate run-ins with the boom, to sprained ankles from moving on a tilting deck - the hazards are real. That's why we provide skipper's liability insurance as part of our EXTRA deposit insurance package. When you're booking your boat, chat with our representative about this coverage so you can set sail with peace of mind.

Let's face it, life can be unpredictable. From sudden illnesses to unforeseen personal challenges, anything can come between you and your planned charter. But don't worry – our charter cancellation insurance has got you covered. Whether it's due to the loss of a job, illness, an accident or even the heartbreaking loss of a loved one, we've got your back. You can read a more detailed description of this insurance product in our guide 7 reasons why it pays to take out cancellation insurance.

Sail or rigging damage

A unique concern for sailboats. Whether it's wear and tear on older sails or a result of pushing the boat to its limits in strong winds, sail damage can occur in the blink of an eye. Always remember to handle sails with care, as a single tear can happen faster than you think.

Rope entanglement

A Common Maritime Mishap. Yacht insurance providers frequently highlight the danger of ropes getting coiled around propellers. Whether it's a carelessly discarded line on the deck or a mooring rope that becomes tangled during anchoring, the trouble is ever-present. While sometimes these tangles can be resolved with a brave crew member diving down, often professional help is needed, which can be costly.

Broken equipment

While we've covered a lot of potential mishaps, there are everyday issues that frequently pop up, prompting our clients to reach out for assistance. Things like snapped bowlines, missing fenders, submerged outboard motors, or damaged railings are all too common. Dive deeper into these issues by checking our article on the most common reasons for losing your deposit. And to sail without a hitch, consider our boat deposit insurance —it's your ticket to a relaxed and worry-free voyage.

I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have or help you with your boat selection. Do not hesitate to contact me!