Insurers won’t cover general wear and tear

Boat floor feeling a little spongey?

Think you might have some softness in the transom of your boat and possibly the stringers?

And how about that 100-litre freshwater bladder where the seepage just refuses to stop?

You’re right, they’re things that need attention – expert attention.

When you size up the cost of replacing the transom and stringers, you’ll find that it’s a lot cheaper than replacing the boat.

But are these works covered under your insurance policy?

Very unlikely is the short answer.

That’s because, just like your car or motorcycle, boats require regular maintenance and despite it, they will still age and wear.

If you flip the argument around and use your car as an example, ask yourself whether you think it would be fair for an insurer to pay you out for a new car simply because yours had covered 250,000km and was now all but worn out?

If that were the case, everyone would be getting a free car regularly.

But there’s also an interesting possible scenario here.

Say you were backing your boat and trailer into the garage and you whacked the port side of the transom on a garage pier.

Transom damage, right?

Yes – with ‘accidental damage’ being the key phrase rather than transom damage from years of age deterioration.

And that’s why it’s important if you do damage your transom with a driveway incident – and believe it or not, that’s how a substantial proportion of insurance claims arise – that you immediately get it inspected by a professional.

A qualified person undertaking the inspection knows that if there is any doubt about the legitimacy of the claim, then they will come under scrutiny when the insurer’s assessors inspect the vessel.

Many of these assessors are former boat builders.

They know what they are looking at and they’ll have a fairly good idea of what is involved in the repair.

So, there’s no room for trying to ‘fudge’ the facts.

A genuine accidental incident is one thing –trying to pass age-related deterioration off as an accident is another thing altogether.

There’s a term for it – insurance fraud.

Yes, it is possible that belting the transom on a brick pier can cause some sort of damage for which there might be a legitimate claim.

That’s why it’s important to act quickly and contact your specialist marine insurer so the damage and its impacts can be assessed.

There’s no point in trying to come back years later and claim that your ‘soft’ transom is the result of damage suffered years ago that you didn’t think was worth reporting at the time.

Current manufacturing standards and materials make today’s brand name vessels considerably more durable.

That’s one of the reasons why Nautilus has extended its cover for trailered runabouts to 30 years without a vessel condition report, rather than the previous 20-year limitation.

But even today’s boats will still wear.

In time, the gloss will come off that gleaming gelcoat and likewise the upholstery.

A regular polish will slow the process, but it is inevitable that the aging process will take its toll.

Also be aware that a boat stored with a very snug full cover in a humid location such as Queensland can ‘sweat’, which may also promote the growth of mould.

A lot of moisture in the air and insufficient air flow can accelerate the deterioration of some materials, including timber.

That type of damage is not regarded as a one-off accident where a claim could be lodged.

Bottom line – accidental damage is insurable but wear and tear due to age or the way the vessel has been used is not.

And yes, there also are ‘grey area’ circumstances which may not fall neatly into those classifications.

These are decided on a case-by-case basis, which is another reason for insuring with a specialist marine insurer such as Nautilus.

As always, what is and what may not be covered will always be decided in accord with the terms of insurance as defined in your insurance policy’s product disclosure statement.

Similarly, any special conditions and excesses should always be explained clearly in your insurance policy’s PDS.

If you need further information, you can contact Nautilus Marine Insurance on 1300 780 533 for any boat insurance requirements.

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