Now you need to buy some sailing holiday insurance.
It can seem a bit daunting and time consuming if you have not done it before. Keep in mind that it is basically a travel insurance policy with knobs on to cover sailing.
Please Note. We are not insurance brokers. We can’t provide advice on buying sailing holiday insurance or sell you sailing holiday insurance. What we can do is tell you about some of the potential pitfalls that we have come across during 14 years of chartering and add a few notes about some of the things to consider before you buy. We take an interest in the insurance policies that people arrive with but we can’t advise on a particular policy for you or tell you if you are adequately covered.
Our guest sailors often ask ‘where do I go for specialist sailing holiday travel insurance’? So here is a link to a UK-based specialist sailing holiday insurer. This is an affiliate link, which means they might give us a small amount of money if you buy insurance through them – all donations gratefully received. You do not have to use this insurer to sail with us. There are other insurers you can use, and Topsail may or may not be cheapest or most suitable insurer for you.
These notes are primarily aimed at people sailing on the schooner Trinovante but if you have landed here looking for some general information these notes apply to anyone going on a sailing holiday. Of course we’d love you to check out our sailing holidays while you are here.
Have a quick think about why you are buying sailing holiday insurance in the first place. We require our guests to have holiday insurance mostly with the ‘big events’ in mind. Medical emergencies, heart attacks for example, that require lifeboats or airlifts with big medical bills and ongoing costs. You may or may not also be interested in cancellation cover for your voyage, loss of baggage or cover for flight cancellation etc.
Things to Do Before Buying Sailing Holiday Insurance
1. Tell the insurer/broker where and when you are sailing and what type of boat you are sailing on.
The best option is to email them and include a link to the voyage notes page on our website for the particular sailing holiday you have chosen.
Ask ‘does this policy cover me for this’? Print the reply – keep it with your documents.
2. Read The Terms And Conditions
It sounds obvious but hardly anyone does it.
Does the policy provide cover for cancellation? Does it cover airlift from the boat in the case of medical emergency? Is the excess OK, do you need to add any endorsements? Is there a 24-hour emergency telephone number you can call – this is a SchoonerSail requirement? Emergencies are bound to happen in the middle of the night on a bank holiday. Does the policy provide the cover you personally have decided you need/want?
3. If the policy is not clear don’t guess or make assumptions – ask.
If you can’t get a clear answer, maybe consider using another insurer.
4. Shop around
We see people paying wildly different amounts for single trip sailing holiday insurance. There are lots of insurers out there so get on Google. Search terms you can use are ‘yachtsman’s insurance’, ‘adventure holidays insurance’, ‘adventure travel insurance’, ‘extreme sports travel insurance’, ‘sailing holiday insurance’ and ‘tall ship sailing holiday insurance’.
5. If you are from the UK buy a policy regulated by the UK Financial Services Ombudsman
If you are from the UK, we reckon that this is a no-brainer.
6. Do you already have travel insurance included with a bank account or credit card?
It might be OK but be very careful about what it covers. Don’t guess – if the policy is not absolutely clear, ask the broker or insurer.
Hopefully you will not need to use your Sailing Holiday Travel Insurance but if you to make a claim are you confident you will be covered?
Once you have bought your travel insurance make sure you pack your documents. If you are sailing on Trinovante this is a requirement.
Sailing Holiday Travel Insurance – The Most Common Pitfalls
It’s sad, but almost every year we have guests who have paid good money for a worthless piece of paper because they did not read the terms and conditions.
What is defined as ‘offshore’ is entirely up to the individual insurer and it can vary wildly. It can be completely different to what we call offshore sailing at SchoonerSail. One of our guests who queried the definition of offshore by phone was told by a broker that it was ‘if you were out of sight of land’. Our guest asked ‘So what if it is foggy?’ – obviously a definition like this is a nonsense. Offshore could be 12 miles from the nearest land, it could be within territorial waters, or it could be almost anything at all. If there is any uncertainty, don’t guess – ask, and get the answer in writing!
2. Geographical Limits
Your insurance does not cover the country you are sailing in or sea area.
Don’t expect brokers to know anything about geography, what countries are in the EU etc.
Where does the ‘North Sea’ start and finish for instance? One year several people arrived at the start of a voyage to Norway with a policy covering the North Sea – when we queried the boundaries with the brokers we were sent what looked a blurry children’s map to define the area. If there are geographic limits these need to be set in stone – this means latitudes and longitudes, or maybe a country border. With this one we had to provide a set of co-ordinates to the insurance company and they agreed it in writing. Needless to say it was a bit of a hassle.
Sailing with us in Norway within the Arctic Circle? Again many people have been caught out by this one, some companies charge extra for this and add it as an endorsement.
You have not declared a relevant fact, for instance a health condition or medication you have been prescribed. Usually you will have to declare ALL medications you have been prescribed in the last year. Make sure you fully check what you need to declare.
Insurers can – and do – refuse to pay up if you have not declared a relevant fact and this may be one of the commonest reasons insurers deny cover.
4. Wrong Type Of Boat
Your cover does not apply to the type of boat you will be sailing on.
Most companies will cover sailing on a three-masted schooner such as Trinovante under their standard ‘yachtsman’s policies’. However, one insurer decided Trinovante was a tall ship and that their ordinary yachtsman’s sailing insurance did not provide cover for ‘Tall Ship’ Sailing Holidays. An insurer once told us that they may even apply this category to small yachts taking part in the Tall Ships Race. This was not clear in either their terms and conditions or on their web site.
We understand from the company concerned that this issue has now been resolved but it is such a good example of a pitfall that we have left it in here. The only way you can cover this sort of thing is by making sure you tell brokers or insurers in writing exactly what you are doing on your sailing holiday.
If you need more information about the schooner Trinovante we have a page about the ship.
We have come across other policies that only cover sailing on boats up to 50ft, only cover boats either with or without a professional skipper, and only cover dinghies or day sailing boats.
Buyer beware. Make sure that you read the terms and conditions. If you are unsure, check by email.
5. Cancellation Cover
You want cancellation cover but your cover does not start until you leave home to travel the boat.
6. Participating In The Sailing
Your insurance does not cover you for actually participating in the sailing. Amazing, but we have seen this in a policy.
If you are going to be sailing with us on a race, then you should check that the policy covers racing.
8. The excess is large
You may or may not want to accept a large excess.
All of these things have come to our notice over the last ten years.
This is not an exhaustive list of potential pitfalls – there will almost certainly be many other issues and clauses we have not come across. If in doubt, ask – and get the answer in writing.
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