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This article is a guest post from Philip Chandler, Senior Travel Underwriter at Topsail Insurance. Philip has 6 years’ experience as a Travel Underwriter in the Lloyd’s of London Insurance Market, and recently moved to Sydney to work for Topsail Insurance, the highest rated marine insurer on Deckee at the time of writing.
We all know that talking about travel insurance isn’t the most enticing topic. Take it from someone who works in the industry – it frequently kills the conversation as soon as it’s brought up. However, as with most insurance products, travel insurance is often hugely undervalued until such time as it’s really needed, and as a result I believe it’s important to share the reasons why it is essential to have a suitable travel policy in place before you embark on a trip, whether that includes a boat or not.
Why should I buy travel insurance?
When you travel abroad or away from home, travel insurance provides you with financial protection and medical assistance to mitigate against a variety of unplanned events which would otherwise leave you significantly out of pocket or worse, in severe debt, and/or in a medical emergency without help.
One of arguably the two most important sections of a travel policy is Emergency Medical Expenses, which usually covers you up to 5 or AUD 10 million, and will pay your medical costs if you are accidentally injured or become ill whilst on a trip. In my career, I have had many customers ask me why this limit is so high, and the simple answer is that medical costs can be extortionate. For example, the average cost of an appendectomy in the US is AUD 42,000 (at current exchange rates), but this can rise to over AUD 200,000 in rare cases. More complicated procedures can cost significantly more, which is why arranging medical expenses cover via your travel policy is vital to avoid incurring those huge costs yourself.
The Cancellation Section is often viewed as the second key component of a travel policy, and will reimburse the costs you have already paid towards your trip (or the remainder of it) if you need to cancel or curtail. For example, if a close relative passed away and you needed to cancel your holiday or business trip, you would be able to reclaim the cost of your flights, hotels, car hire and other un-used bookings so that financially you are no worse off. Depending on the trip and how many people are going, these costs can escalate quickly into the thousands, so it’s important to make sure that you buy a travel policy with an adequate limit and as soon as you start booking flights or hotels.
Most travel policies will also have some combination of cover for Baggage, Legal Expenses & Personal Liability, Personal Accident, Money & Credit Cards and Hi-jack, as well as many others which have varying degrees of value depending upon your circumstances.
Traps to look out for when buying travel insurance
Travel insurance policies are complicated and there are many different products available, so it is important to understand exactly what you are covered for (which can be easier said than done) and not to just focus on the price.
A key pitfall to look out for is ensuring medical conditions are fully covered. Insurers usually apply a ‘pre-existing medical condition exclusion’ which means they won’t pay for claims arising out of any existing medical conditions you already have, unless you declare them and get them specifically included. You don’t need to declare medical conditions if you don’t want them to be covered, but if you do then make sure you declare these fully and honestly and you have written evidence they are included in the policy.
The variety of polices available means some only offer meagre covers and limits, so it is important to find the right policy for you and your circumstances. Some examples of things you may want to look out for include ensuring you are covered fully for any activities/sports you are doing on your trip; you are not outside the age limit; your destination is included in the covered area of travel; and that you can read and fully understand the policy yourself.
If you have any questions about the policy at all, you should ask the insurer or broker before you purchase.
What about if I’m sailing or on my motorboat?
People will often have travel insurance included as part of their bank account or credit card, but check carefully if you’re going on the water as most of these policies will have strict restrictions or limitations when boating, even if you’re just within a harbour, close to shore or chartering a boat.
Who are Topsail and what is Yachtsman’s Travel Insurance?
Topsail Insurance was launched in 1996 in the UK and since then has provided specialist Yacht, Motorboat and Yachtsman’s Travel Insurance to a worldwide marine community, backed by Lloyd’s of London Insurers. Topsail Australia opened in Perth in 2015 and was set up by Mark Ainscough and Cathy Charlick, who themselves are both ‘cruising yachties’ and enjoyed a 4 year sailing adventure around South East Asia prior to setting up the Company (more info).
Topsail’s Yachtsman’s Travel Insurance has been specifically designed to address the lack of suitable travel insurance for mariners, by imposing no restrictions or limitations whilst aboard yachts, motorboats or Tallship’s, and by including other benefits such as Yacht Charter Excess Waiver.
Full cover is also given for ‘non-marine’ trips that do not involve any sailing or boating, meaning that an Annual Multi-Trip Yachtsman’s policy can cover all your trips you take whether you are sailing/boating or not.
As well as offering this cover at a competitive price, Topsail’s Yachtsman’s policies also offer:
• Full worldwide, offshore cover
• Onshore racing cover as standard
• Search and Rescue, Yacht Charter Excess Waiver and Crew Replacement
• Annual multi-trip polices (as little as $150) or single trip policies (as little as $40)
• Ability to cover groups or families under one policy
• A straightforward, easy-to-read, 20 page Product Disclosure Statement
• Full cover for non-boating trips
• Ability to cover anyone up to 79 years old, or higher with referral
• Discounts if you also purchase boat insurance with Topsail
• A quick and simple online quotation tool, meaning you can find a price within minutes
To summarise, make sure you have adequate travel insurance and that it is suitable for your needs. You’d be surprised at the peace of mind it will give you.
Twice in as many days we’ve had big city vessels anchor within a boat length of us on the upwind side when there was heaps of ocean everywhere around us. Why?
This morning’s incident sparked my ire because there was still a strong wind warning issued for winds directly from the direction that they’d put themselves. And although somewhat quiet after a night with the breeze lifting off the land, the full force could return at any moment now that the sun had begun to rise.
Why? Not only does it infringe on our privacy, you could hear their voices and their radio, it also needlessly endangers our vessels. When I called to him and asked if he’d be staying long, and that a strong southerly was still forecast, he remarked, “Oh but you’re on a mooring.” Sure we were on a long lead mooring, but far more important, he was in front of us on an anchor.
He next said, “I’ll pull some in.”
Eh gad! Don’t shorten scope and still be in front of me. Just move.
A word to all boat people, give a bit of space. Anchor prudently when in unfamiliar ports and unfamiliar ground.
“Being on a boat that’s moving through the water, it’s so clear. Everything falls into place in terms of what’s important and what’s not.” –James Taylor
Bliss, isn’t it? Of course we all think of ‘safety first’ when out on the open water - we’ve got our life vests and navigation systems - but it’s easy to forget that properly insuring the boat itself can save you a boatload of problems in case of a claim.
If you’re new to boat insurance, these pointers will help you navigate these complex waters. If you have existing boat insurance, it might be the perfect time to talk to your broker to make sure they’re up-to-date on any changes that need to be made - or to guide you in a better direction if options have opened up.
A common question from first-time boat owners is, “Doesn’t my homeowner’s policy take care of it?” Most homeowner’s policies have significant restrictions and exclusions for boats and personal watercraft. Your homeowner’s policy may cover inexpensive, slow, and small craft (canoes, kayaks, dinghies, etc.) but when it comes to personal watercraft like Wave Runners/Jet Skis, any watercraft that can exceed 40km/h, large sailboats or yachts... DO NOT assume that your boat, guests, or personal property are covered by your homeowner’s policy!
Good comprehensive boat insurance will protect your investment, as well as safeguard you from liability claims from injury or property damage. Rather than listing each individual element of boat insurance here, it’s best to consult with a knowledgeable broker who will help you understand exactly what you can expect to be covered for in case disaster strikes. Generally, anything that is permanently attached to the boat is covered; but don’t guess. Ask.
Make sure you understand the two types of cover available, and the risks associated with each:
Actual cash value pays the value of your boat at the time of the damage/destruction. The insurance company determines its market value.
Agreed amount value. If the boat is destroyed, the insurer pays a previously-agreed amount. If it can be repaired, old items are replaced with new without deducting for depreciation.
There is more to consider when choosing a policy, including the intended use of your boat (personal or commercial); its size and horsepower; where you will be using it; whether operation requires a license; and whether you’ll be participating in racing of any kind.
You will also want to consider the risk you are comfortable carrying as well as costs (lower deductibles/greater cover, or higher deductibles/lower premiums).
So… how do you choose the best policy for your boat? Our best tip is:
DO NOT base your cover on price alone. Consider the intended use and what you want to be covered for, the risk you are willing to assume, and talk to a knowledgeable broker who will help you navigate the intricacies of boat insurance and help you choose the best cover for you.
Now is the perfect time to get more information about your options or to review your current policy to see if it still meets your needs. Check out our free Boat Insurance Comparison Tool – just submit a quote request and our expert brokers will find the best policy for you at the best possible price!
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