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Some Insurers Would Put a Stop to Inter-Club Yacht Racing

21st June 2020
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Racing boat owners are facing hikes for insurance, some of which could be substantial, added to which there are restrictions appearing in policies which could affect activities such as inter-club racing. Racing boat owners are facing hikes for insurance, some of which could be substantial, added to which there are restrictions appearing in policies which could affect activities such as inter-club racing. Photo: Bob Bateman

“You will notice that the premium has increased on last year. This is not something that is particular to just your policy. All clients have seen their premiums increase this year.”

The warning letter from my insurance brokers was blunt and clear.

The first paragraph of their letter was followed by: “The reason for the increase is that the last few years, 2017 in particular, have seen some very significant disruption in the marine insurance market with successive years of severe losses coupled with premium income failing to meet the rising cost of claims. This resulted in some underwriters withdrawing from the marine sector altogether. With a hardening and contracting market industry, bulletins point to predictable increases in premiums, while the highest risk (perceived or otherwise) cases may find it difficult to arrange cover or will be faced with restricted terms and higher excesses. There have been a couple of claims–free cases where Insurers have declined to offer renewal terms at all.”

Racing boat owners are facing hikes for insurance, some of which could be substantial, added to which there are restrictions appearing in policies which could affect activities such as inter-club racing.

For example, one company – Amlin – would only insure for racing in leagues or regattas organised by one’s own club. In Cork Harbour that would prevent me racing Scribbler, my Sigma 33, in some of the combined league races, because the harbour clubs alternate running them. It would also block participation in the Cobh-Blackrock Race to other than Cove S.C. members, the organising club. Another company, Beazley, wanted the boat ashore after the end of September, which would exclude the Autumn League at the RCYC, the biggest of the season. I was told by my broker that in Ireland there were those who would not insure a Sigma. I was told: “For whatever reason, the underwriters have decided they do not want to insure them, they do not provide any further explanation.”

I checked with a few clubs about insurance changes. Some owners had experienced similar attempts to insert limiting conditions previously, such as no inter-club racing. had resisted them individually and that the changes had not been proceeded with.

Well, those conditions are back again it seems and, so far, there’s no indication that companies which want to get more money from boat owners are prepared to change their minds.

Limiting racing to one’s own club would affect boats taking part in inter-club regattas and other events and what about Championships?

I was told that “rather than bundling all racing into one category there is a move by insurance companies to differentiate between those that race in club races only as those boats are deemed to be “less competitive.”

To change the conditions and get coverage for inter-club racing and cover to the end of October involves substantial premium increases for my boat. To include inter-club racing Amlin wanted €193 more than a premium for one’s own club racing only.
Beazley’s hike for October cover was €58 onto the original quote. Both companies inserted petty massive increases in the excess on a policy.

For club committees, one club Secretary told me, it will make the Notice of Race even more important. Sailing Instructions require that competitors need to have insurance but, does everyone read the small print of their insurance agreement to make sure that they are covered for racing outside of their own clubs and is this something clubs will have to be aware of.

It seems the warning for “buyer beware” is very appropriate for racing yacht insurance this year.

This week’s Podcast below

Published in Tom MacSweeney
Tom MacSweeney

About The Author

Tom MacSweeney

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Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for Afloat.ie. He also presents the maritime radio programme This Island Nation on community radio stations around Ireland.

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