Making claims as easy as possible

Adrian Waters • 05/08/2014

Once your boat is insured you can relax, right? Well, yes, you're covered, but there are things you can do that will make processing a claim much easier, in the unfortunate and hopefully unlikely event that you suffer from fire, theft, accident or damage.

1. Be accurate

If an insurance company finds out that your boat or equipment is not as described when you took the policy out, it could be used as a reason not to pay out. It is ABSOLUTELY VITAL to check your policy details when the paperwork comes through.

If you change anything about your boat you must let the insurance company know immediately, even if it's something that you don't think will affect the premium.

2. Maintain excellent records

As well as keeping records of any servicing or safety checks, keep receipts of things you buy for the boat as well. This will help to prove you really owned items you claim for, and kept everything in good condition, which will help disputes about the value of compensation.

3. Keep a photographic record

Take photographs of your boat and equipment, particularly items that are identified on the policy, with a date stamp if your camera can do that. This also makes it hard to dispute that you had these items and that they were in good condition.

This is much easier now with digital cameras and camera phones but don't forget to save the photos on a CD or DVD for safekeeping.

4. Note limits of cover

Make sure you are aware of the limits of a policy and arrange further insurance if necessary. For example, most policies have upper limits for the total amount of possessions that can be claimed for after an incident.

But there are also limits for individual items within that overall limit. So if you have an iPad on board and the single limit is £250, you won't be compensated enough to buy a new one even if the overall limit for a claim isn't reached. In cases like this you will need to take a policy with higher limits or cover certain high-value items on a different policy.

5. Be aware of policy limitations

If a low premium price is very important to you, you can achieve that by deciding not to insure certain items, choosing restrictive cover or a policy with a high excess. But be sure you know what is covered and what isn't or you will face disappointment if you have to make a claim.

6. Don't waste time

As soon as you need to claim, do it as quickly as you can. You'll get your compensation faster but also, as time goes by, important details may be forgotten.

7. Put everything in writing

Today email and telephones make communication far easier but it's still a good idea to put things in writing. At the very least, when you're talking to an insurance company, make sure you write down what was said and get the name of the person you spoke to.

8. Raise a criminal report

If your claim is related to theft or criminal damage, make sure you report it to the appropriate police force. Even if you're sceptical about the police doing anything about the incident, it is usually required by an insurance company.

9. Stay calm at all times

It's tempting to tear a strip off insurance company staff if you're disputing a claim but do your best not to be rude to insurance company staff. In most cases they'll be instructed to hang up if you swear so you won't get anywhere anyway. Just re-state your case again and again and if you think you aren't getting through, ask to speak to a supervisor.

10. Be lucky!

The smoothest claim is one that you don't have to make, so do your best to avoid it if at all possible. Make sure all locks and anti-theft devices are in place every time you leave your boat, pilot carefully and follow all sensible fire precautions.

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