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What risks do yacht clubs face?

At a glance

  • From thefts of outboard motors to damage to clubhouse premises, yacht clubs face a wide range of physical risks to their property
  • In addition, club owners, directors and trustees face personal liabilities, ranging from discrimination claims by employees to prosecutions for breaches of health and safety legislation
  • We offer a useful guide on the wide-ranging risks faced by yacht clubs

From small dinghy sailing clubs to the largest Royal Yacht Clubs – the size and structure of the thousands of boat clubs operating across Britain varies enormously.

Regardless of the size of their organisation, there are three fundamental challenges for club managers, owners, directors and trustees:

  1. Protecting their club’s physical assets
  2. Minimising underinsurance
  3. Managing the risks and liabilities they face as individuals

We take a closer look at some of the key risks your customers face when running a yacht club.

1. Physical risks

Theft is an important risk for yacht club owners to consider. Outboard motors are particularly attractive to thieves for a number of reasons. They are easy to transport and sell, difficult to trace and, depending on the type of motor, can be sold for several thousand pounds.

James Hunt, Commercial Marine Manager for leading boat insurer Navigators & General (N&G), says: “Outboard motors are often stolen to order and shipped abroad and thieves are prepared to go to quite some lengths to steal them. We had one case where an outboard motor was removed by a chainsaw from a vessel.”

Many valuable items may also be found inside a clubhouse, ranging from trophies to fine art.

It may not be feasible for the smallest clubs to invest in state-of-the-art security measures, but some relatively simple steps can make it more difficult for thieves, including ensuring there is good quality perimeter fencing and security lighting, and that doors are secured with good quality padlocks.

James says: “Physical security is your first line of defence, so it’s important that it is of a reasonable standard. If your boathouse has a poor quality padlock it can probably be cut through in no time.

“Over the last 20 years, a lot of insurers have insisted on minimum security standards, including locks on doors, but it’s important that whatever security measures you take are concentrated on the areas thieves are likely to target.”


Helpline support for applicable Navigators & General customers
Zurich Executive Risk Solutions for Charities policyholders have access to the following helplines:

Zurich Risk Management Advice Line – offers free, practical guidance on risk issues such as property, security, food hygiene, business continuity, environmental and health and safety management.

Legal Advice Helpline – provides confidential legal advice on any commercial legal problem affecting the business under the laws of any European Union country.

Tax Advice Service – provides confidential advice on any tax matters affecting the business, under UK law.

Counselling Service – a confidential counselling service for employees, and immediate family members who permanently live with them.

Health and Medical Information Service – information on general health issues and advice on a wide variety of medical matters, provided by qualified nurses.

Importance of risk assessments

The first, and most important thing that clubs should do is conduct a risk assessment to determine what their most valuable assets are and how vulnerable they are.

James says: “Risk assessments sound complicated, but from a theft point of view, it’s simply a case of ‘what do I have that thieves might want, and how easy is it for them to get it?’ Clubs should also be thinking about how traceable their assets are if they are stolen.”

2. Minimising underinsurance

For many yacht clubs, the clubhouse may be both the principal asset and the main source of generating revenue, for example if it is used to host meetings or events, or to sell food and drink.

Underinsurance can occur if buildings and contents are incorrectly valued, but also if the full costs of business interruption have not been taken into account.

James says: “Reinstating a property following a fire, for instance, can take far longer than people think. Clubs need to consider the real cost of business interruption. For example, would alternative premises be available? Would membership plummet if the clubhouse was closed for a long period?”

You can demonstrate your value to customers by helping them to understand how to set appropriate sums insured and indemnity limits.

3. Management liabilities for yacht clubs

The potential liabilities faced by directors and officers will vary greatly depending on the size of the club, the number of employees, and the nature of the activities or services provided.

However, management risks could include:

  • Breaches of health and safety legislation – including food hygiene laws if food and drink is prepared on the club’s premises
  • Claims by employees – for example sexual harassment, racial discrimination or disability discrimination
  • Professional liability claims

Doug Hunter, Senior Market Underwriter, Zurich Financial Lines, says: “Directors and officers can sometimes face claims from each other. For example, a trustee might award a contract to an outside organisation to provide a service, such as designing the club website, without consulting his or her fellow trustees.

“If the other trustees then decide to cancel the contract, the individual who awarded the contract could be held liable for any costs due.

The costs involved in defending a legal action can be huge.”

How can Navigators & General help?

Navigators & General’s Yacht Club and Sailing School proposition provides your customers with the protection they need:

  • Expertise from Navigators & General backed by Zurich A+ (Superior) security
  • Combined property, liability and marine covers within one policy
  • Wide ranging cover for coastal and inland clubs of all sizes from the smallest to the largest
  • Bespoke cover to meet your recommendations and your customers’ needs
  • Additional cover for Directors and Officers, Personal Accident and Legal Expenses
  • No proposal forms making it easy for you to work with us

If you would like more information on our Yacht Club and Sailing School Proposition, call one of our specialist team on 01273 863 460. Visit Zurich for Brokers for more information on our all of our Commercial marine products.

Image © Alamy

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