The most common marine insurance claims – and how to avoid them

New Zealand has a long, proud tradition as a seafaring nation, and getting out on the water in your own boat is part of the great Kiwi dream. In a Maritime New Zealand 2016 survey, 51% of percent of respondents said they were involved in recreational boating. Tourism New Zealand has estimated that one-third of Auckland households own a boat, making it the highest per-capita rate of boat ownership in the world.

Unfortunately, with so many people enjoying our beautiful maritime environment, it’s inevitable that accidents are going to happen. If you’re a keen boatie, what are your biggest risks? How do you protect yourself from them? Here, we look at a list of the most common maritime insurance claims and how to avoid them.

Hitting a submerged object

Hull damage from striking a submerged object is one of the most common reasons people claim on their marine insurance. It’s important to be vigilant of floating debris, especially after a storm or heavy rain. Keep an eye out for irregularities on the water’s surface that might indicate danger lurking below. Wearing good sunglasses will decrease glare and improve visibility. Stick to clearly-marked water channels and be prepared to take evasive action.


In December 2016, the Insurance Council of New Zealand reported that an average of 24 boats were stolen in New Zealand every month, with a recovery rate of just 20%. To keep your boat secure, store it out of view of the road, and in a locked garage if possible. Immobilise your trailer by chaining it to a fixed object or by clamping or removing the wheels. Apply dedicated outboard motor security locks and remove any valuables from the boat while it’s not in use. Record all serial numbers and take plenty of photos that will enable the craft to be identified even if it’s re-painted or modified.

Collision (on land and water)

Getting your boat through the traffic and to the water can be the most dangerous part of your journey, and once you’re afloat, there are still plenty of things to collide with, including docks, stationary objects and other watercraft. Add that to the fact that there’s no licence required to operate a pleasure boat in New Zealand, and it’s no wonder that collisions account for a large number of marine insurance claims. You can’t control what other sailors do, but by being a vigilant and responsible skipper, you can minimise your risk of bumping into them.


While not strictly a common occurrence, if it does happen, a lightning strike can completely destroy your boat’s electronics, making for a very expensive insurance claim. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and if storms are likely, don’t go out. If an unexpected storm develops and you are close to shore, get to safety as quickly as you can.

If the worst does happen, a marine insurance policy gives you the peace of mind that repairing or replacing your precious boat won’t leave you out of pocket. Give us a call to find out how we can help protect you and your boat.