Posted on: May 11, 2020

The unique challenges of houseboat insurance

All things houseboat insurance

Whether you’re a permanent houseboat resident or not, we understand the uniqueness and importance of your floating pride and joy. Our experts in houseboat insurance also know how difficult it can be to source relevant information surrounding houseboat insurance, and we’re pleased to be able to offer answers to some of your important questions.

What are the unique risks of houseboats?

One of the major risks, depending on location, is the effects of harsh weather on the property and its residents. Belongings must be securely fixed in even moderate conditions, while storms are capable of sinking houseboats if extreme. Lightening and storms are dangerous to anyone on the water. SAIL magazine offers advice specifically about preparing your boat for a hurricane – not relevant to those with houseboats on the Murray but many of the tips are still helpful to consider for a severe storm.

When it comes to having guests aboard, the risks are much greater than those of a typical homeowner. Many water residents require children to wear life jackets on deck and be secured if the boat is moving. Carbon monoxide poisoning and propeller mishaps are among the rare yet extreme risks while the engine of your home is running, so you should have a carbon monoxide detector and a safety plan in place.

Continuous maintenance and care are necessary for houseboat owners. Failure to provide appropriate upkeep can quickly turn into costly overhauls and repairs. These can be extremely unpredictable and impractical, including constant moisture and leaks that promote mould and rust. The costs are ongoing for boat residents, so make sure you’ve budgeted for maintenance and repairs.

What sort of risk management could be applied?

If purchasing second-hand, the condition of a houseboat depends upon past wear and tear and the previous owner’s attentiveness regarding maintenance and upkeep. Manage the risk of unexpected and unwanted costs down the line by having the floating home checked out by a professional surveyor to determine its condition and value before purchasing, including an underwater inspection.

Protection procedures such as waterproofing can shield your houseboat from weather related damage. Shrink wrapping a boat when it’s being transported on land or not in use for winter could also guard items such as batteries, inboard and outboard engines, and lower units. Shrink-wrap can protect from rain, ice and UV rays all year long, which can minimise maintenance costs. You can also install things like a lightning dissipator and/or lightning rod to reduce risk of lightning strike damage.

For your personal, guest and community’s protection, having a fully stocked medical kit on board is a given, as is knowing basic first aid and CPR. The risk of drowning can be minimised by guide rope, grab rails, and handrails throughout the exterior of your floating home to avoid slips and falls. Floatation devices and life rings should be in plain sight and easily accessible.

What kind of insurances do houseboats need?

Having adequate houseboat insurance is important and should include coverage that will protect you financially and cover your liability for accidents. This includes on your houseboat or damage that you could cause to another person or property. There is a range of coverage options out there including, but not restricted to:

  • Watercraft liability insurance: Covers damage or harm done to other property or people.
  • Third party fire and theft boat insurance: This is a diverse range of cover, offering protection from damage caused to your houseboat, damage your houseboat causes, and damage caused by fire or theft.
  • Comprehensive boat insurance: Again, this offers far-reaching protection for a wide range of coverage, including storm damage, towing costs, emergency expenses and rescue expenses.
  • Home and contents insurance: This is unique from other boat insurances, as it’s important to consider the home and contents elements of your houseboat and protect them accordingly.

These examples are a few of many, and we understand how difficult it can be to distinguish and select from the variety of policies. At GIA Insurance Brokers, we can provide houseboat insurance packages that will be tailored to your needs. We specialise in insuring houseboats, particularly on the Murray River in South Australia and beyond. Get a free quote from us today and make sure you’re getting a good cover for good value.

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