There is one thing that few can deny. Motorboats are fun. The feeling of being on the open water with the wind whipping your hair and the sun on your face; there’s not feeling like it. If you’re lucky enough to own a motorboat then you already know the feeling well. You also know how costly they can be to insure or repair. That’s why I’m going to list the top 5 motorboat insurance claims, then give you ways to avoid them, so you can keep that feeling coming all summer long.

1. Weather damage

The weather poses a number of potential dangers for boats on the water when left out in the open. If you have access to a marina, keep your boat there when not in use. It’s generally less vulnerable and sheltered from the worst conditions. Also, be sure to store sails rather than leaving them furled as well as checking your lines in the event of a weather warning.

Cold snaps can cause considerable damage to engines. So it’s good practice that engines are winterized in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations to ensure protection against frost damage.

Although unlikely, lightning strikes have the potential to disable or short-circuit on-board electrics. In extreme case, this can lead to a fire. There’s little you can do if you’re unlucky enough to encounter this kind of weather, but that’s why you have boat insurance.

2. Striking underwater objects

There is nothing more disheartening than catching a propeller on an underwater hazard. That sound will stay in your head. Installing a GPS unit, reviewing paper charts and talking to local fishermen or other boat users when sailing through unfamiliar waterways, will help avoid hull and propeller damage. If your boat already has GPS ensure the most recent updates are installed. Also, try to watch the current in front of the boat for a sharp change in the current’s direction, as this may indicate that something lies just beneath the surface. Sandbars are often the culprits in this case.

Waterways are busier than ever, and the more familiar we are, the more comfortable we feel, the less vigilant we become, the greater the chance of accidents. So, plan each passage rather than assume this weekend’s trip will be the same as last weekend’s.

3. Theft

a) Outboard motor theft
If an engine can be removed easily then it’s an open target for thieves. It’s therefore essential to ensure that outboard motors are secured against theft, and if possible taken home and locked away. Metal theft is also on the rise. Easily accessible brass or bronze propellers make an attractive target for thieves. So, if they can be removed, store them securely away from the boat.

b) Theft of personal effects

This probably goes without saying, but it’s also good practice to remove all personal effects from your boat and store them in a safe environment. By doing so, you’ll make your boat less attractive for thieves to break into. If thieves can see any belongings left onboard, no matter the worth, they are more likely to assume that you have more valuable items stored somewhere onboard as well.

4. Collisions

Collision is the claim we see most often. Waterways are busier in the summer, so it pays to be vigilant when sailing or driving a motorboat, and to plan your maneuvers in good time. Although you might have the right of way, everyone is responsible for avoiding a collision.

5. Cradles and trailers

We’ve seen many claims for boats that have either fallen over in their cradle or were damaged by un-roadworthy trailers. Most policies will insist that cradles and trailers are fit for purpose and it’s recommended that you undertake a thorough examination before they are put back into use after being left dormant for long periods.

In conclusion, stay vigilant, store away what you’re able to, and most importantly, enjoy your beautiful boat this summer. And, if you do hit a sandbar, we’re here for you.