Australians have a long-standing love affair with boating, with more than 2.9 million Australians holding a boat licence according to the Boating Industry Association.1 Getting out onto the water should be relaxing and fun, and with the right insurance cover for you it can be – so how do you find the best boat insurance in Australia to suit you?
Youi’s Head of Product for Watercraft, Mervyn Hartley, says everyone who owns a watercraft might want to consider their insurance needs. The best boat insurance cover to suit you and your needs might be the policy that matches how and when you use your boat, where you store it, and ultimately how it protects your usage. That will be different for every boat owner, so it’s important to choose the right policy for you.
“If you’re out in a tinny fishing every weekend, you might want $1,000 worth of cover for your fishing gear, but if your weekend is all about water skiing behind your boat then you might consider looking for a policy that offers liability and injury cover for water sports. Or if you race a yacht, you could consider looking for a policy that covers social sailboat racing,” he says.
“Choosing the best boat insurance to suit you depends on how you use your boat, how you store your boat, how protected you need to be, and what your acceptable level of risk is.”
How important is it to have boat insurance in Australia?
Increasing numbers of people are now boating in Australia. Not surprisingly, in 2023 sunny Queensland leads the way, with 276,000 registered boats,1, while (based on a 10-year study up to 2021) it’s estimated that almost one in five NSW households owns a boat or watercraft.2
With so many people on the water, things do go wrong – an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report from 2021 showed that around 2670 people were hospitalised in 2017–2018 after boating accidents.3 Given this, along with the unpredictability that comes with water-based activity, it might be worth exploring your boat insurance options.
“As long as you have some ‘interest’ in the boat, you can insure it,” says Hartley.
“For example, if you’re borrowing your grandfather’s boat for a while because he no longer uses it, you can insure it. Likewise, members of a boat owners’ syndicate – maybe a group of mates – might have different financial stakes in the boat, and one person might be the registered owner, but another might pay for the insurance.”
What type of boat insurance cover do you think you might need?
Some of the factors that will determine what type of boat insurance policy you might need include when and how you use your boat, the type of boat you have, its value, your budget and whether or not you have a tender, or dinghy.
The key factor that determines the cost of boat insurance is the type of boat you’re insuring. There’s a big difference between a sailboat and a luxury yacht, and watercraft like jet skis are another category altogether. If you have a tender, it might be a good idea to check the product disclosure statement for any policy you might be considering to see if cover for tenders is included.
What are the different types of boat insurance?
Not all boat insurance policies are created equal, so it might be a good idea to compare before deciding which one is right for you. Taking a close look at what each type of policy offers will help you work out if it’s suitable for your situation.
Comprehensive boat insurance
Youi’s Comprehensive watercraft insurance can cover accidental damage caused to your watercraft, in addition to helping protect you from having to foot the entire bill if your boat causes damage to someone else’s property.4
Comprehensive insurance policies from Youi also include cover for intentional damage to your boat, as well as damage caused by natural events such as storm, flood, earthquake or fire.4 They also include cover for emergency accommodation, transport, towing, salvage and repairs in the aftermath of an insured event.4
A Youi Comprehensive policy may also provide cover for theft – both of your boat and its contents.4 In a worst-case scenario, you’ll also be covered for a donation to sea rescue services, accidental personal injury, death and counselling services.4
Optional covers, such as social sailboat racing for your yacht and watercraft contents upgrades, are also available.4 Social sailboat racing is where the race distance is less than 100 nautical miles. Additional premiums apply.
As a general rule, comprehensive insurance will help guard against most common accidents, but always read the Product Disclosure Statement for specific details.4
Third Party Fire & Theft boat insurance
This type of Youi policy can cover you for damage caused to your boat by fire and theft, as well as for damage your watercraft causes to someone else’s property.5 While it isn’t as all-encompassing as a Comprehensive policy, Youi Third Party Fire & Theft can cover boat owners for emergency accommodation, transport and repairs,5 as well as towing, salvage and loss prevention, in the event of fire or theft.5
Third Party Property Only boat insurance
Youi's Third Party Property Only cover provides basic insurance to help protect you against costs you could be liable for if your watercraft causes death or injury to someone else, or damage to someone else’s property.6 It doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles of other policies, but does cover both general and watersports liability if you have told us you use the boat for watersports, and counselling services arising from an insured event.6
Do I need boat insurance cover when I’m not using my boat?
Even when you’re not using your boat or it’s not in the water, it might be worth checking that it’s adequately covered.
If you keep gear on your boat, it may only be covered by your policy if it includes contents insurance. The same may apply to lay-up insurance, if you store your boat out of the water during the off-season. Additional cover might be a good idea if you’re storing it in a way that leaves the hull exposed.
Finally, keep in mind that many boat insurance covers have geographic limits, restricting cover to around the Australian mainland, so if you’re planning an around-the-world sailing adventure or longer boating trip, double-check that your insurance will cover you.
If you’re looking for boat insurance that’s a bit more you-shaped, consider starting a quote with Youi today.
Article by guest writer Lee Mylne
1 Source: Boating Industry Association – Industry Data
2 Source: NSW Government – Boating incidents in NSW, data collected 2011-2021
3 Source: Australian Government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – Boating and watercraft-related injury in Australia
4 Available with our Comprehensive policies, some exclusions, limits and additional fees may apply. See our Watercraft PDS for full details.
5 Available with our Third Party Fire & Theft policies, some exclusions, limits and additional fees may apply. See our Watercraft PDS for full details.
6 Available with our Third Party Property Only policies, some exclusions, limits and additional fees may apply. See our Watercraft PDS for full details.