Leading yacht and motorboat insurer Navigators and General (N&G) is urging boat owners to remain vigilant this winter after seeing an uptick in claims for boat thefts.
As the sailing season draws to a close, many owners bring their craft ashore, where they can become an easier target for thieves.
The Brighton-based insurer, owned by Zurich, has seen claims for boat thefts increase almost 20% in the last two years, with average claims topping £8,200. It says small craft are most at risk of theft from marinas and owners’ front drives.
Theft of equipment and fittings remains the most common theft, with claims creeping up 2% and average losses standing at £1,800.
However, theft of outboard motors has dropped dramatically, falling 97% over two years, although it remains the second most frequent theft claim.
Maria Cospito, Head of N&G, said: “Theft claims are more likely to occur during the long winter nights, when boats are ashore, boatyards quieter and craft left unattended for longer periods.
“Over the last two years, there’s been an upward trend in claims for stolen vessels, and with boats arguably more vulnerable in the winter, now is the time for owners to take steps to secure their craft.
“To reduce the chances of becoming a victim, our advice is: lock it, store it, move it or mark it distinctly. Making sure you have adequate and up-to-date insurance cover is also important. If thieves do strike, this can help you get back on the water quickly.”
As harsher weather arrives, N&G also warned owners to take steps to protect their vessels from storm damage. More severe weather last year saw claims for storm damage increase by half over the prior year. The average cost of claims for storm damage is £17,600.
Cospito said: “The combination of freezing temperatures, driving rain and high winds makes the winter months a particularly vulnerable time of year for boats.
“Over just a few months ropes can wear, fenders burst, bilge pump batteries run down, sails become unfurled, cockpit drains block with leaves and lines work lose.
“With boats traditionally laid-up for the winter, damage can go unnoticed for longer than usual which exacerbate problems – for example, a small leak can cause significant damage to a boat’s interior and mechanics, and in extreme circumstances, cause it to sink.
“To ensure your boat is properly laid-up we recommend carrying out checks every couple of weeks, particularly when a bad spell of weather is expected. Spring may seem a long way off, but taking a few key measures to protect your boat during the winter period could help avoid a lot of unnecessary stress and inconvenience in the new sailing season.”