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    • Protect the environment. Think before you print.

Navigators & General warns of spike in boat thefts

November 6, 2019

- Boat owners urged to remain vigilant during winter lay-up after jump in vessel thefts

Boat Under CoverLeading yacht and motorboat insurer Navigators and General (N&G) is urging boat owners to remain vigilant this winter after seeing an uptick in claims for boat thefts.
As the sailing season draws to a close, many owners bring their craft ashore, where they can become an easier target for thieves.  

The Brighton-based insurer, owned by Zurich, has seen claims for boat thefts increase almost 20% in the last two years, with average claims topping £8,200.  It says small craft are most at risk of theft from marinas and owners’ front drives.  

Theft of equipment and fittings remains the most common theft, with claims creeping up 2% and average losses standing at £1,800.  

However, theft of outboard motors has dropped dramatically, falling 97% over two years, although it remains the second most frequent theft claim.  

Maria Cospito, Head of N&G, said:  “Theft claims are more likely to occur during the long winter nights, when boats are ashore, boatyards quieter and craft left unattended for longer periods.  

“Over the last two years, there’s been an upward trend in claims for stolen vessels, and with boats arguably more vulnerable in the winter, now is the time for owners to take steps to secure their craft.  

“To reduce the chances of becoming a victim, our advice is: lock it, store it, move it or mark it distinctly.  Making sure you have adequate and up-to-date insurance cover is also important.  If thieves do strike, this can help you get back on the water quickly.”  

As harsher weather arrives, N&G also warned owners to take steps to protect their vessels from storm damage.  More severe weather last year saw claims for storm damage increase by half over the prior year.  The average cost of claims for storm damage is £17,600.   

Cospito said: “The combination of freezing temperatures, driving rain and high winds makes the winter months a particularly vulnerable time of year for boats. 

“Over just a few months ropes can wear, fenders burst, bilge pump batteries run down, sails become unfurled, cockpit drains block with leaves and lines work lose.

“With boats traditionally laid-up for the winter, damage can go unnoticed for longer than usual which exacerbate problems – for example, a small leak can cause significant damage to a boat’s interior and mechanics, and in extreme circumstances, cause it to sink.

“To ensure your boat is properly laid-up we recommend carrying out checks every couple of weeks, particularly when a bad spell of weather is expected.  Spring may seem a long way off, but taking a few key measures to protect your boat during the winter period could help avoid a lot of unnecessary stress and inconvenience in the new sailing season.”

* All figures are based on N&G’s claims data unless otherwise stated.  Percentage increase/decrease in claims based on the last two full years of claims data, from 2017 to 2018.  Average cost of claims taken over a 10 year period from 2008 to 2018.  

Navigators & General advice for protecting your boat this winter:

Remove all expensive equipment such as radios, GPS, navigation and electronic equipment, TV’s, CD players etc and store them in a safe place.
Remove the outboard, tender and life-raft.
Leave empty lockers and drawers ajar to ventilate and deter thieves.
Drain down water and heating systems.
Have engines professionally winterised or ensure that you carefully follow all of the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid frost damage.
Remove berth cushions to a dry environment.
Remove furled headsails, mainsails, covers, dodgers and spray hoods.
Take out halyards leaving a mouse line and thoroughly wash and check for wear.  
Check all backstays for wear at top batten point.
Check all standing rigging for broken strands and rigging screws for wear.
Ensure the yard use cross bracing if using wooden shores, for extra safety.
Ensure that whilst ashore the trim of the craft is correct, to allow cockpit drains to be effective and avoid rainwater building up on decks or within the craft.
Do not tie covers or tarpaulins to wooden shores or cross bracing.
Preferably use only close fitting covers to avoid additional windage.
Place tie-on labels on the wheel and engine controls to remind you to check all skin fittings, impellers, seacocks and transducers prior to launching/starting the engine.
Disconnect batteries and leave them fully charged.
Do check the craft periodically during the winter months unless you have made a specific arrangement for this to be done on your behalf. Do not assume that the rental of space will include this service.
Avoid running fuel tanks too low due to risk of sucking dirt into filters or condensation in the tank space.


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