Thinking of buying a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB)? Well assuming it’s for private and pleasure (P&P) use (commercial use will be dealt with in a separate article) here’s a guide to some of the insurance issues you may encounter as well as some of the benefits you might get as part of your cover.
Use an Insurance Broker!
I’m going to say specialist insurance broker rather than a quotation sourced direct from an insurer. I will declare an interest here in that I actually am a specialist broker. There are advantages:
A specialist broker can do your shopping for you because they will have access to multiple markets and therefore make a recommendation as to which one best fits your needs.
A specialist broker should also be able to help you if a claim happens. Understanding and liaising with your insurers regarding liability and/or settlement value. They may also have access to a wide range of approved boat builders, dealers and repairers that will help you get your RIB back in use with minimum disruption to your pleasure in using your RIB.
This is in contrast to going direct to an insurance company which means you will just receive information based on their product. It also means you will have to make time consuming multiple telephone calls find out what is available so to decide what is best for you. That’s OK if you have time, but time is money!
What Value is the RIB insured for – Purchase Price or Agreed Value?
You need to understand the basis on which your RIB is covered. It is common for insurers to cover the RIB and its equipment for the purchase price. However, cover can also be on “agreed value”. If you are unsure which yours is check your insurer’s policy wording. Some may state that they will pay the value stated in in the Schedule of Cover (this will be “agreed value”) and others will state they will only pay up to that value (i.e. the purchase price less any depreciation). If your RIB is a total loss the difference in the policy wording could have a significant effect on the amount of your claim is settled for.
As you will expect, the more you pay for your RIB, the more your insurance cover is likely to cost. Insurers rate your policy on the value of your hull, machinery, trailer and any special equipment you might have. The rate applied will usually decrease as the insured value slides up, so the cost to cover a RIB at £50,000 would usually be proportionately cheaper to cover than one valued at under £10,000.
Here are some of the other factors that will affect your overall annual premium for your RIB insurance:
Where are you keeping your RIB?
Location can matter. Certain parts of the UK that are considered prone to extreme weather and it will cost more to insure there. Additionally, your choice of mooring can have an effect too – chances are you could be relatively free from a moorings loading if you are on a pontoon in a marina but a swing mooring will often result in your cover costing you more. Also it is worth mentioning that, if your RIB is permanently moored in Continental Europe it will be rated differently than if UK based.
How Fast Can Your RIB Go?
There’s no doubt that the last few years have seen an increase in performance of RIBs being used for P&P and the maximum speed of your craft will be a factor on your premium and the availability of cover.
Generally, up to 35 Knots is within the appetite of insurers. Above 35 Knots things start to change, with premium increased but most RIB insurers are comfortable offering cover up to 55 Knots. Above 55 Knots many insurers are uncomfortable meaning that they won’t provide cover or there is a sharp rise in premium rates for these RIB’s.
What is your experience on RIB’s?
Some insurers will allow a small premium discount if you are an experienced skipper. By experienced this is usually taken to mean more than 5 years with RIB’s. If you have less than 5 years’ experience then be prepared to have your premium loaded – over 2 years’ experience but under 5 would typically attract a load of 5% to the basic premium. Under 2 years and it could start to get painful; under 1 and you start to find insurers who will not even offer a quotation and others who will – but with a significant premium increase.
The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has recognised training centres worldwide. If you invest in getting appropriate RYA qualifications – such as Powerboat Levels 1&2 – there may be a premium discount.
No Claims have occurred?
Typically, insurers will allow a 5% discount per year up to a maximum of 5 if you have held boat insurance and made no claims but it is possible to find insurers offering larger discounts in certain circumstances.
Covering Personal Possessions & Accessories
Trailers, inflatables and other accessories used with your RIB can be added to your schedule of cover – there will usually be an additional premium charged. Check your policy documentation for terms and conditions relating to use, security and storage of these items.
In return for a further additional premium your insurers may allow you to add cover for personal possessions against loss of damage whilst on board your RIB. Before opting for this extension, however, it is worth checking exactly what is and isn’t covered as some policy wordings will detail a lengthy list of excluded property, including (but not limited to) passports, money, credit cards, travel tickets, jewellery, watches keys, mobile phones and laptops. You might also be able to obtain a better premium rate and scope of cover for this type of property as an “All Risks” extension to your home contents insurance policy.
Many providers will include up to 30-days European use (including road transit) as a free extension so you can hook up your trailer and have fun – don’t forget to check your certificate and/or schedule to make sure this cover is in place before you go.
Here’s a tip: If you are going overseas ask your insurer to provide you with a certificate in the language of the country where you will be using your RIB – it may save you a lot of hassle with the local authorities if you can present a certificate of cover that the local authorities don’t have to get translated.
Transiting Your RIB
Cover for road transit of your RIB can be included on your policy – sometimes this is a freebie but some insurers will levy an additional premium for transit cover – don’t forget to ask your broker if your transit cover is free or if they are charging for the extension.
Marine Third Party Liability
Your RIB’s Marine Third Party Liability Insurance covers your legal liabilities arising from the use of your RIB as agreed by your insurers. It will cover injury to passengers and other third parties as well as damage to third party property.
This cover often comes as a free extension to your RIB’s Hull & Machinery Insurance but some providers will levy a separate premium for your Liability Insurance. At time of publication the indemnity limit commonly provided by insurers is £3,000,000, though some will provide a higher limit if required (eg. a particular marina insists on a higher limit) in return for an additional premium.
Depending on where your RIB is berthed, it may be a requirement for you to have Marine Third Party Liability Insurance. For example, the Environment Agency (EA) requires all vessels on their waterways to be registered and part of the registration process is to provide details of your insurance. Although you are not required to submit your documentation the EA carries out spot checks and will fine boat owners who do not have the correct level of insurance.
Will You Be Water-skiing or Towing Toys?
Obviously you’ll want to have fun with your RIB and if that includes water skiing or towing toys such as bananas, ringos and other inflatables you will need to have your liability insurance extended to include this activity.
Policies are commonly endorsed with the permitted number of toys or skiers that can be towed at any one time and may have additional conditions applied such as having somebody on board to act as a look-out or observer in addition to the helmsman.
Some Small Print to Look For:
High Speed Clauses
If the maximum speed of your RIB is in excess of 17 Knots then your insurers are likely to apply some additional terms and conditions to your cover.
Commonly defined as a “High Speed Clause” you are likely to find an endorsement on your schedule or certificate of cover that excludes cover that your policy usually provides to vessels with a design speed up to 17 Knots.
Each insurer will have a slightly different wording so it is worth studying this exclusion if it is likely to apply to you. If in doubt, speak to a specialist broker who is familiar with the nuances of different policies and is able to make a suitable recommendation to meet your specific requirements.
Theft of outboard engines is prevalent. Professional gangs seem to be able to operate without fear of being caught and some cases, such as where they have succeeded in removing even the largest engines from vessels in marinas, their success in escaping with tens of thousands of pounds worth of outboard has been extraordinary.
Insurers will almost certainly require your outboard engines to be secured to your RIB with an anti-theft device in addition to its normal method of attachment.
Theft of your vessel while left unattended at any time on a trailer will more than likely be excluded unless it is secured by a wheel clamp. Some insurers will relax this if the trailer is in a locked building or compound. Check your documentation to be absolutely sure what your insurer’s requirements are.
Excesses often vary – usually the higher the value of your RIB and outboard, the higher the excess is likely to be. In addition to the standard excess, insurers may apply higher excesses for particular types of claim. For example, claims resulting from damage to semi-submerged objects (SSOs) can be subject to higher excesses than the policy’s standard.
At time of writing it is not a legal requirement in the UK for P&P craft to have kill cords in use whilst the craft is underway. However, some insurers are now making the attaching of kill cords a requirement of their cover for fast craft. Again, check your wording or speak to your provider if you are not sure what your insurance obliges you to do.
Nb. These examples represent only a small part of your policy’s terms and conditions. You should carefully read the whole of your policy document to ensure you are aware and fully understand all policy requirements and the scope of cover provided. If in doubt, speak to your insurance provider and obtain clarification from them.
Additional Cover & Free Benefits
This cover is usually an “add on” which attracts a charge. A Legal Expenses policy will cover your uninsured losses in the event of a non-fault claim such as your standard policy excess. It might also cover you with regard to contractual disputes and legal defence.
One insurer I work with offers a free data tag to all policy holders. This is particularly useful for RIB owners as, if your outboard should disappear overnight, it is possible for it to be located by the police and the perpetrators apprehended.
We have already discussed (in Part 1) the premium benefits you are likely to enjoy if your vessel is kept in a marina. This is due to greater security against theft as well as the marina generally being a safer haven from adverse weather conditions than other types of mooring.
In addition to premium savings you can often benefit from not having your excess applied in the event of a claim arising whilst your RIB is marina berthed. Some insurers will also provide the benefit of not penalising your no-claims bonus in the event of theft or damage occurring whilst your vessel is moored in a marina.
Personal Accident Insurance
This is a useful feature and, in most cases, it usually does come as a genuine free benefit. The sums insured are relatively low (typically £5,000 or £10,000) and do not compare favourably with stand-alone personal accident policies but, nevertheless, would provide some support if an insured event were to occur.
You should always seek professional advice from a