insuring the full kit boat

Insuring the full kit and kaboodle

BUSH ‘n Beach has brought Nautilus Marine Insurance on board to expand the fine print and provide readers with clear, easy-to-understand and helpful tips on protecting their boating assets.

The scenario

More than 50 years ago the Daily Mirror in London backed the concept of a ‘build it at home’ boat – the 3.3m sailing dingy, the Mirror. In conjunction with the paper’s do-it-yourself expert Barry Bucknell and Jack Holt, one of the world’s most popular sailing dinghies was created as a ‘stitch and glue’ design – pre-cut panels laced together by copper wire with the joints covered in fibreglass tape and sealed.

Since then and with an explosion in the popularity of do-it-yourself activities and television programs, along with what some colloquially call “YouTube university”, there has been an extraordinary growth in DIY projects including kit boats.

Assisted by technologies including computer numerical cutting equipment, affordable construction tools and digital explanations of the processes, the availability of do-it-yourself boat construction kits now includes aluminium and plate alloy versions that range from around the size of that original 3.3m vessel to multi-hull designs of more than 8m in length.

And in between there are dinghies, centre consoles, half cabins, full cabins, cruisers, runabouts – you name it and it’s probably available as a kit boat. But once you’ve invested your money and countless hours into turning your kit boat into a floating reality, where do you stand in terms of insuring such a craft?

Fortunately, marine insurance specialists like Nautilus recognise there are many qualified tradies who have the required skills and commitment to create a quality finished product from a kit. As well, some companies manufacturing those kits can construct the hull to a certain level of finish, enabling the customer to do the final fit-out.

Others also have arrangements under which an authorised person can complete the trickier parts of assembly for the kit boat constructor. It’s also important to note there are prevailing construction standards for a range of related issues such as the specifications relating to electrics, gas, fuels and lighting.

Some elements of this work can only be undertaken by someone holding the required certification. But once you’re across all that, there’s something more you’ll need if you are to get coverage. The primary requirement is for the insurance application to be accompanied by a survey report attesting to the design and construction standards of the vessel.

This must come from a licensed marine surveyor. Some kit boats are designed by naval architects, licensed marine surveyors and/or boat builders, which can add evidentiary weight to your application. The second feature will be an Australian Builder’s Plate, which standardises the display requirements relating to the boat’s capacities and capabilities including the maximum horsepower and number of people permitted on board.

Underpinning the insurer’s response to your insurance application is a concern about how safe and seaworthy your vessel is in terms of design and construction. Nautilus does advise that people intending to buy and construct a boat from a pre-fabricated kit to first explore the credibility of the original design and investigate the insurability of the particular model being considered.

There is no room for assumptions. However, provided all the right boxes are ticked, the good news is Nautilus Marine does not charge any excess premium on a professionally designed and constructed kit boat. As always, any special conditions and excesses should always be explained clearly in your insurance policy’s product disclosure statement.

Always check your PDS and if you have a query, ask for clarification. If you need further information, you can contact Nautilus Marine Insurance on 1300 780 533 for any boat insurance requirements.

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