Proceed without frustration through the Winter

As Summer draws to a close now is the time to give thought to and prepare for your winter storage. Repairs are often undertaken (large and small), maybe a hull repaint is intended, essential maintenance work carried out or maybe a rebuild is planned.  Whatever the task, many owners are not aware that winter storage can involve a higher risk of damage to the yacht than is common in the sailing season.

The European market leader for yacht insurance, Pantaenius, declares that 40 percent of their settled claims have their origin in winter storage. Damage by fire ranks amongst the biggest danger on land. Fire frequently causes so-called accumulated losses, i.e. a sum of many separately occurring actions which are caused by the same incident. “This normally results in an enormous amount of loss, as fire mostly leads to a total loss,” comments Gunnar Brock, barrister for Pantaenius.

For example, over two years ago a fire destroyed a yacht shed with six stored boats in it at Wilhelmshaven. Five yachts burnt out completely and one was badly damaged. Even more devastating was a tornado which raged over a boat storage shed in Hamburg- Harburg in the same year. The collapsed shed roof buried about 40 boats.

Proceed without frustration through the winter

Good yacht hull insurance is therefore vital. It should cover yacht damage to the full amount of the sum insured. Some important advice from Brock: “The policy holder should pay attention that not only burning or fire are named as insured causes of loss in the terms and conditions.”  Strictly speaking this would only cover a naked flame but even singeing and smouldering can cause grave damage.

It would be a mistake to rely solely on the liability insurance of the originator in the case of damage caused through no fault of your own. Most professional winter storage operators possess suitable insurance protection but there are exceptions: Smaller providers who make their empty barn available as a storage place for boats over the winter months often do so without insurance protection. If there is protective liability, then one does not often know the exact terms and conditions. One can also never be sure if the other users have taken out liability insurance and so whoever is left with a claim and no hull insurance may have little chance of getting their money back.

Your own liability insurance should not be forgotten. “Whether it is the sailing season or winter storage: Even if in Germany, which is different to Italy for example, where liability insurance is not a mandatory requirement, every owner without respective cover is acting carelessly,” says Gunnar Brock. Unfortunately and all too frequently, damage is caused to other boats by one’s own fault during winter storage, for example, careless anti- fouling work on your own hull or welding can quickly ruin the teak deck of an adjacent boat.

Owners should not forget to adjust their insured sum when carrying out any winter work which increases the value of their boat, for example, the installation of high quality navigation electronics. If an owner is unsure of what work would influence their insured sum then they should consult their insurance company. If, for example, a yacht’s teak deck is renewed, then it is only conservation of value but if the same procedure is carried out on a used boat which did not previously have a teak deck, then this certainly realises an increase in value.

“We regularly have enquiries about winter storage from our customers. Whether they be about insurance protection, suitable storage inland or abroad or about work on the boat: We try to help where we can because if boat owners understand the risk, they can not only look forward to the next sailing season in a more relaxed manner, they can also prevent needless damage, which in turn benefits all policy holders with lower premiums,” sums up the Pantaenius barrister.

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