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The WOA act as Introducers for Navigators & General (N&G) and are pleased to make you aware of an exclusive insurance scheme that has been set up by N&G for members

There is an exclusive insurance package available to WOA members with Navigators & General, the UK’s leading yacht and motorboat insurers, part of the Zurich Group. This has been running successfully now for many years with hundreds of members covered and offers significant benefits.

Navigators & General advise that the service, cover and security are amongst the best available in the market and WOA members benefit from a further 10% discount off current premiums due to the support you give to this Scheme and the good claims record it has.

The main features of this package are summarised below:-

N&G have now added two more benefits for our members:

The discount you receive will more than pay for your WOA membership and your support will help keep the Scheme competitive and allow the insurers to support WOA events.

Navigators & General (N&G) is reminding owners to carry out a number of simple and straightforward checks before they get back on the water to avoid common claims.

N&G generally experiences an increase in claims notifications every Springtime as boats are launched, or when owners return to find their boats have suffered damage during the winter. The increased risk frost damage to pipes, water systems and engines this year are likely to have caused more undetected damage.

Carrying out a number of simple pre-launch checks, and ensuring there is good communication with the yard or launching company can significantly help reduce the risk of potential accidents, breakdowns or worse still, sinking.

These types of checks are particularly important after a harsh winter where skin fittings, pipes, engines and water/cooling systems may have been damaged or dislodged by ice. Pipes split by ice can slowly leak once submersed below the waterline often leading to sinking if not spotted.

Wherever possible, it is advisable for the owner to be present when the boat is launched to monitor the vessel for any unusual water ingress for at least a couple of hours after settling. In their absence the yard should take on this responsibility but they will need clear instructions and full access to the boat.

Making sure that all parties know and agree the launch date should ensure that all works have been completed in time, leaving the vessel ready to be launched and seaworthy. N&G have seen a number of sinking claims caused by something as simple as failing to replace a through hull fitting or re-attach an internal hose.

Knowing where to place the slings and then marking the hull to avoid damaging the boat when she lifted is much easier to do ashore. Boatyards will often supply and apply stickers to mark sling points.

Checks on machinery fluid levels, companionway stairs and floorboards, as well as split pins, rigging and guard rails can prevent accidents and possible injury to you or your crew. When refitting your boat it is important to check that safety equipment is in date and adequate for your boat. Fire extinguishers, lifejackets and flares in particular need to be kept in date and in proper working order.

Even the experienced boat owner is still at risk from complacency. Taking a small amount of time to routinely go through a number of pre season checks can prove very worthwhile.

To avoid launch and pre-season problems, Navigators & General offers the following advice:

  • check all water carrying pipes for splits or leaks
  • have a yearly pre-season machinery maintenance check, by a boat engineer
  • agree a launch date in advance and arrange access to boat for yard if you cannot be there in person
  • do not start engines until all basic checks have been completed, including opening cooling water sea cocks
  • check fuel or gas lines and cables have not been trapped whilst stowing gear
  • do not assume anything will be checked or replaced, if in doubt ask
  • check all hoses, skin fittings, through hull fittings & hose clips
  • check, and tape rigging split pins or securing bolts and guard rails
  • ensure fire extinguishers, distress flares & lifejackets are still in date and adequate for your boat
  • check sails for signs of vermin damage or rot
  • ensure navigation equipment is on board, up to date and working

Common problems include:

  • flooring, steps and handles not being properly re-attached after servicing, which can lead to injury
  • split pipes that only show themselves hours after a boat is launched
  • forgetting to return crucial safety and navigation equipment to the boat
  • through hull fittings not being replaced or hoses not properly re-connected, which can lead to sinking
  • rigging not securely attached after the mast is put in or securing pins not fastened or taped over for security, potentially leading to a dismasting
  • not checking engines are fully re-commissioned, which can let you down at a crucial moment or be damaged when started
  • underwater gear or log may be damaged on slings or strops when lifted

“Whilst it is tempting to get out on the water at the first sign of a good spring day, spending time on these simple pre-season checks will be time well-spent as the rain, damp and storms over the winter can cause wear and tear to a boat and equipment. It’s also key to ensure there is no misunderstanding about who is to complete the maintenance – be it the boat owner or the boat yard, ” said James Roberts, Head of Navigators & General.

“Conducting maintenance checks before re-launching the boat onto the water, will reduce the risk of damage to the boat and possible injuries. The onus is on the boat owner to maintain their vessel to a seaworthy condition and ensure ongoing maintenance is completed. It is also important to remember that insurance cannot compensate for lack of maintenance and will not cover damage caused as a result of wear and tear.

Avoiding Problems with Insurance Claims

by Joe Field, Consultant with Navigators and General

We often get asked to comment on, and see comments in the press relating to, insurance companies' attitude to paying (or not paying) claims and where grey areas or confusion over terminology may be misunderstood as an effort to avoid paying claims altogether!

Firstly it’s important to clarify in its most simple terms what your boat insurance with Navigators & General is intended to provide. Basically, it is a safety net against unforeseen fortuitous events, and genuine accidents that could not be predicted, or reasonably prevented. For that peace of mind you pay a relatively small premium (compared to the sum insured) to us, and we effectively manage your premiums in order to meet claims of the unlucky few and run the business.

Being able to meet the costs of claims, balanced with our desire to keep premiums stable, is all down to our underwriting expertise, and the size and diversity of our book of business. Another factor, which is unique to the Westerly Owners’ Association insurance scheme is the claims experience of all members within the scheme, which is large enough to enable us to factor into the exclusive rates members pay and claims service you receive.

Because Navigators & General is such a large and well established company with over 80 years underwriting expertise, all policy holders will have benefited from relatively stable premiums during their association with N&G, and because the WOA scheme performs so well, members benefit from substantially discounted premiums.

Some people say that all insurers look for ways to avoid paying claims. This is one of life’s great misconceptions and is simply not true. If a company has priced a risk correctly, has the capacity to pay the claim, and the claim is covered by the policy, it is in the insurers interests to settle the claim as quickly and efficiently as possible. Having worked closely with the claims team at Navigators & General I know that to be fact. The claims team at N&G has an average of 12 years experience each, and has undertaken a number of new initiatives to improve the speed and quality of service which has helped halve the average time taken to settle a claim.

One of the most common exclusions in insurance policies related to wear and tear, gradual breakdown....or similar descriptions thereof. This is because unlike motor vehicles or properties, where there are rules and regulations to ensure they are maintained to a certain standard, or to oversee major alterations or works, there are extremely limited requirements for coastal vessels to be maintained to certain standards. Combine this with the relatively harsh marine environment and it is pretty clear that owners who do not maintain their vessels properly are likely to see their craft deteriorate to the point where they experience gear failure.

This is widely regarded as an eventuality and something Navigators & General believes prudent owners, who maintain their vessels well, should not be affected by in terms of claims being paid from the communal pool. Hence the exclusions previously mentioned and the reason we make it a condition of the policy that the vessel is kept in a seaworthy condition.

Owner negligence (other than recklessness) and latent defects are events that cannot be foreseen, and as such the consequential damage should be covered (both of these are specified perils in the policy). Whether a claim is a result of wear and tear (that should have been spotted and prevented by the owner), or a latent defect will in most cases be determined by the marine surveyor appointed by the insurance company. Navigators & General always try to take a fair attitude towards what is reasonable in terms of inspections and maintenance.

For that reason our policy does not contain an age limit for rigging to be replaced by, but we would expect members to be sensible and renew rigging if it shows signs of wear, or if advised to do so by a surveyor, yard or rigger. We respect that you are experienced boat owners and that Westerlys are well-engineered craft, but as a result of not being limited by strict age limits it is important to understand that if a surveyor advises that a claim occurred due to neglect and lack of maintenance to a boat we will probably decline it.

How far it is reasonable for members to go to in order to check their vessel over as part of routine maintenance is unfortunately always going to be open to interpretation and may vary by insurance company. Navigators & General consider a thorough visual inspection of their vessel and her gear to be reasonable including a rig inspection, either stepped or whilst down, annually. Taking the boat apart to expose normally hidden parts would be considered unreasonable and should a failure occur in such a place that would not have been obvious to the owners we would always try and assist with the claim, including costs to identify the cause of the failure and the consequential damage. The defective part would be excluded.

Probably the best, and most re-assuring, way to establish what attitude an insurance company has towards claims is to ask other boat owners or yards for their experiences with that company. Recommendation and repeat business is an extremely important source of new business, and any company that recognises that will generally look after their customers at all stages. As over 1,000 members of the Westerly Owners’ Association are insured with Navigators & General, and less that 5% a year do not renew cover, we hope the response you get will be favourable.

By insuring through the Westerly Owners’ Association scheme you will be benefiting from the overall performance of the scheme, and helping fellow members at the same time. So if you are not already part of the scheme please give us a call at renewal or submit an application.

Navigators and General