Don’t horse around with power decisions – Nautilus Marine

BUSH ‘n Beach has brought Nautilus Marine Insurance on board to expand the fine print and provide readers with clear, easy-to-understand and helpful tips on protecting their boating assets.

The scenario

“I’ve got my old tinnie with its 40hp Johnno and I’m going to bang a new 60hp Yammie on it.”
Really? “Oh sure, no problem – I know these new engines are lighter, so it won’t be a worry.”

You sure about that? “Oh yeah – won’t be a problem.”

The reality is it might be – and not just a problem, but a very serious problem if you don’t do your homework. Because if things go pear-shaped one day, you might find your insurance company rejects your claim. In general terms, specialist marine insurance companies such as Nautilus Marine have no issue insuring well-maintained, seaworthy boats.

However, if you overpower that boat, you run the risk of having any insurance claim disallowed. The Australian Builders Plate for boats will certify the maximum horsepower that can be fitted to the vessel. The weight of the motor is a separate but parallel consideration. In other words, when you are repowering your boat, you need to ensure the maximum power of that motor and the weight of the motor, are in accordance with the boat builder’s declared specifications.

There are other practical considerations as well, such as the modern motor’s adaptability to the boat’s original transom angle and the options open to you to compensate for those changes. Good marine dealerships can advise you on this. In a related vein, you need to be aware of the maximum carrying capacity of your boat.

If you install a fuel tank that is triple the size of the original, you have to take that into account when evaluating the maximum number of people and the total amount of equipment that can be carried on the boat. Fortunately, the Australian Builders Plate will provide you with an excellent starting point for working out what you might and might not be able to do.

Similarly, if you decide to mount the larger fuel tank in a different part of your vessel, you also begin raising issues relating to stability. For that reason, specialist marine insurers like Nautilus often ask you to supply a report from a licensed marine surveyor confirming the change made to the vessel does not impact adversely on its seaworthiness.

In more recent years, virtually all Australian recreational boat manufacturers have given a recommended range for outboard power. For example, a well-known manufacturer of 6m fibreglass boats might state: “Horsepower between 150hp to 200hp maximum with a recommended outboard of 175hp.”

If you were to look at the Australian Builders Plate, it would state: Maximum hp 200. So if for example your vessel originally had a 150hp two-stroke outboard that is now moving towards the end of its life cycle, you could upgrade to a 200hp four-stroke relatively easily. Simply have the upgrade undertaken by a competent marine professional such as your local franchised dealer for the brand of outboard you are buying, then advise your insurance company in writing of the change.

It also is advisable to tell them the cost of the outboard so it can be taken into account when determining the amount of insurance coverage you require.
But remember, putting a new $25,000 outboard on your eight-year-old boat does not automatically make it worth $25,000 more when it comes to insurance.

It is the market value or the agreed value of the overall rig – whichever of those options you have elected to take, noting many agreed values automatically change to market value after a couple of years unless a supplementary valuation has been provided by a licensed marine dealer and you have obtained the agreement of the insurer to cover your boat for that amount.

As always, any special conditions and excesses should always be explained clearly in your insurance policy’s product disclosure statement. Always check your PDS and if you have a query, ask for clarification. If you need further information, you can contact Nautilus Marine Insurance on 1300 780 533 for any boat insurance requirements.

Win a Nautilus Prize Package

Nautilus will also be answering your boat insurance questions of a general nature and will be offering a great bi-monthly prize to the best questions received. The prize is a Nautilus Marine merchandising pack comprising a collapsible chiller bag, a handy marine sports bag and a cap.
Just email your questions to qld@nautilusinsurance.com.au

For more handy hints from Nautilus Marine, click here!

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