The majority of your boat-owning customers will soon be returning to their vessels, having laid them up for the winter. However, inclement weather and other factors, may have affected your customers’ boats during this time, so it’s important they understand how to get them ready for the spring.
Research from one of the UK’s leading boat insurers, Navigators and General (N&G) shows that there is a large increase in boat insurance claims at this time of year, with 66% more claims made than the monthly average. Importantly, a high proportion of these claims are due to weather-related damage.
We take a look at the main risks faced by your customers’ boats over the winter months, and have provided a checklist for what your customers should look out for when returning to their boats for spring sailing.
Risk 1: Weather
The UK has had a very wet and stormy winter, with Storm Desmond and Storm Frank battering much of the country in recent months. Many of the biggest risks for your customers’ boats relate to damage that can be caused by strong winds and heavy rain damaging canopies, covers and electrics.
While this has not been a particularly cold winter, the north of the UK has experienced harsher weather, and frost may have damaged engines and caused pipes to freeze and burst.
While it’s important that your customers regularly check their vessels during the winter months to minimise weather-related risks, it’s still important that upon returning for the boating season in the spring they:
- Check to ensure the positioning of the fenders has been correct and that there isn’t any damage to the hull
- Check mooring lines, looking out for any early signs of wear/failure
- Check for any leaks that may have resulted from heavy rain or damaged covers – a small leak left undetected for a lengthy period can cause significant damage to the interior and mechanics of your customers’ boats and, in extreme circumstances, can lead to sinking
Risk 2: Fire
Even in the depths of winter, fire is a significant risk too. It’s important for your customers to:
- Ensure that dehumidifiers and heaters used to keep the boat dry have sufficient draining facilities and clean filters
- Check that they aren’t overloading circuits when running a heater or dehumidifier for long periods of time
- Refrain from burning a light bulb unattended, as they can trigger an explosion if they come into contact with flammables or vapour build up
- Check during early season cruises that they have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This is particularly important if solid fuel or gas heaters are being used overnight
Risk 3: Theft and damage
The risks also extend beyond accidental damage. Longer nights and colder weather means fewer people would have been around at boat yards, potentially making your customers’ boats an easier target for thieves if valuables were left on board.
Valuables, including electronic equipment such as GPS plotters and radar displays, should always be removed from your customers’ boats when they are not being used for long periods.
Your customers should also look out for any signs of intrusion and make sure that doors and storage areas are secure. Lockers should be checked to ensure your customers still have all their marine equipment, such as winch handles or even the anchor and chain.