Although insurance companies don't insist that you take photos of your boat or yacht, it's a very good idea to do it. It helps to have an indisputable record of the condition of the boat and the extras you've added to it throughout your ownership.
Digital cameras, smartphones and camera phones make it much easier to build up a photographic library, but it's important to keep the pictures safe too. This article will show you why and how.
What to record and why
You need to take photos of the boat itself, inside and out, the engine(s) if it has one and any significant optional extras you can buy. This is perhaps more important with boats than say cars, because so many are custom built and modified throughout their lives.
If you have to make a claim, and we sincerely hope you don't, the photos will help you construct the claim and make sure you don't forget anything. They can speed up the claim process if any queries arise because you can demonstrate clearly what you're claiming for.
Photos that show condition and work in progress (in the case of a restoration, for example) will also be useful if you believe you should be getting more than you're offered.
You can also take photos (or scans, if you have a scanner) of service records, receipts for accessories or work done on the boat, anything that will help validate the value of a claim. It's easier to find a digital image of a receipt than a scrap of paper unless you're the type who files everything straight away.
It's not just about insurance though; a record like this will also help you get the maximum value for your boat if you decide to sell it. It will not only prove that work's been done but also that you've kept it in good condition throughout your ownership.
Organising your photos
But what do you do with all those photos? Well, you could print them out and put them in a folder but that somewhat defeats the object of digital photography. Most insurance companies have embraced email so if you did need to send some photos to them it would make sense to do it digitally.
If you have a laptop, tablet, PC or Mac then you can copy them onto that. If you don't, we've got alternatives for you further on in the article. You have to think about how to arrange your photos so that you can find the right ones easily. Keep a separate folder for boat photos if or use the software that came with your camera or phone to divide them up - there are unfortunately too many variants for us to be able to give specific instructions here.
That's not all - you need to take backups too, because computers can go wrong and you could lose all your photos. Most PCs, Macs and laptops can write photos to CDs or DVDs these days and that's the best thing to do with them. As well as keeping them safe, you can easily look at them on a different computer or even on a TV with a DVD player.
You can also copy them to USB sticks but those can be corrupted as well, so use more than one. Make sure you put them somewhere safe to stop someone accidentally overwriting them too.
Backup to 'the cloud'
There's a lot of talk about 'the cloud' these days but it's really just a way of talking about storage that's on the internet where you can keep stuff safe. Many smartphones will copy photos to cloud storage - Android phones to Google Drive and iPhones to iCloud, in fact some are set up to do it automatically.
If you have a lot of different phones, tablets etc. you might be better off using a service like Dropbox that's independent of phone manufacturers. That way you can access your photos from almost any phone, PC, tablet, laptop or Mac.
Be wary of copying files to the cloud from a mobile though, because you'll be charged for the amount you transfer over 3G or 4G - better to wait until you're home and use wireless unless you have a lot of data in a monthly plan.
No tablet or computer?
Of course not everyone has computers or tablets. You can use the cloud, as above, directly from a smartphone, but if you're using a digital camera or an older phone then that option won't be available to you.
The best thing to do is to buy more cards for your camera - CF, SD, microSD or whatever the camera uses and keep one or two just for boat photos. If you can, try and get some time on a friend's or relative's computer to copy from card to another because, just like USB sticks, cards can be corrupted.
Just in case
Having said all that, we hope that you never have to use these photos in earnest because the best outcome for us and our customers is if you have a trouble-free time with your boat and never have to put in a claim.