Marine insurance policies cover the loss of, or damage to, boats and other types of vessels.
Types of complaint we see
You might complain to us that your insurer:
- unfairly rejected or restricted your claim
- didn’t put things right adequately when settling your claim
Your insurer might have restricted or rejected your claim by saying that:
- your vessel wasn’t seaworthy
- you didn’t take reasonable care to avoid loss or damage
- you didn’t give the insurer information they asked for when you out the policy
- you made a fraudulent claim
- you didn’t comply with the policy’s security requirements
How to complain
Talk to your insurer first so they have the chance to put things right. They have to respond within eight weeks. If they don’t respond, or you’re not happy with their response, let us know.
Bringing a complaint to us is straightforward and won’t cost you anything. We’ll check if your complaint is something we can deal with, and if it is, we’ll investigate.
What we look at
To help us consider a complaint fairly, we’ll ask you to provide some information. We’ll make our decision about what happened using evidence provided by you, the financial business and any relevant third parties. In reaching a decision, we consider:
- the relevant law
- any regulations that applied at the time
- any industry codes of conduct in force at the time
- the terms and conditions of the policy
We look at lots of things when we assess complaints about marine insurance. What we check depends on what the complaint is about.
Most marine insurance policies provide cover for sinking. The extent of the cover depends on the reason for the sinking. Full cover generally applies if there was a sudden, rapid flow of water (‘incursion of water’) into the vessel. Limited cover, or no cover, might apply if the sinking was caused by a slow build-up of water. A slow build-up of water might mean that:
- your vessel wasn’t seaworthy
- you hadn’t maintained your vessel properly
If your dispute is about how a sinking happened, we’ll look carefully at the evidence. We’ll examine the cause and speed of the incursion of water to decide what’s fair.
Your insurer might reject a claim and say that:
- you knew your vessel wasn’t seaworthy when you used it
- the loss or damage was caused by unseaworthiness
In cases like this we’ll carefully check all the evidence to make a fair decision. This includes checking if:
- the vessel was regularly maintained by a professional marine engineer
- servicing and maintenance were done according to manufacturer and industry recommendations
We don’t normally expect consumers to have a technical knowledge of their vessels. But if you’re a qualified and experienced skipper we’ll take this into account.
Your insurer might say you must carry out certain basic checks. Check your policy wording to see what checks you’re expected to do.
Your insurer might reject your claim and say you:
- didn’t carry out basic checks and precautions before casting off
- ignored weather warnings
- ignored warnings about your vessel’s condition
In cases like this we’ll look at the evidence to work out if you:
- knew about the risk but chose to carry on without taking precautions
- didn’t know about the risk
If we decide you didn’t know about the risk, we might tell the insurer to pay your claim. If we decide you did know about the risk, we’ll probably say it’s fair for the insurer to reject it.
Your insurer might reject your claim because you:
- didn’t give enough information when you took out your policy
- gave false information when you took out your policy
This is sometimes called ‘non-disclosure and misrepresentation’. Disputes about non-disclosure and misrepresentation often happen because of the way people answer questions in insurance application forms. In cases like this we’ll check the wording of the questions and look at any supporting evidence from you and the insurer to make a fair decision.
Your insurer might reject your claim because it thinks you deliberately sank or damaged your vessel to get insurance money.
The insurer might say you:
- made up a claim
- made the loss or damage look like something covered by your policy when you knew it wasn’t actually covered
- exaggerated the extent of the loss or damage
Fraud is a serious allegation. We expect insurers to provide strong evidence in cases like this. We might decide that your alleged dishonesty was to help you get something that you would have got anyway. If this happens, we might decide the insurer should still pay your claim.
Your insurer might reject your claim because you didn’t meet certain security requirements. Marine insurance policies often have extra security requirements for smaller boats and personal watercraft. This is because they are easier to steal. For example, your policy might say your vessel must be:
- anchored to an immovable object
- fitted with a hitch-lock
We’ll carefully check if the insurer made the security requirements clear when you bought the policy. If we think they did, we probably won’t tell them to pay your claim.
You might complain about a cash settlement you’ve been offered if your vessel has sunk or is written off. In cases like this, we’ll ask both sides to provide evidence to support their view of the vessel’s value. This could include valuations made by:
- a qualified independent marine surveyor
- a local yacht or boat dealer
Putting things right
If we think your insurer has treated you unfairly or made a mistake, we’ll ask them to put things right. We’d expect them to put you in the position you would have been in if the problem hadn’t happened. How we ask them to do this will depend on the case. For example, we might ask your insurer to:
- deal with a claim they’ve rejected
- add interest to any claim you should have been paid
- pay for more work to be done if you’ve complained about repairs
We may also ask the insurer to pay you compensation for any distress or inconvenience you’ve experienced as a result of the problem. Read more about how we award compensation.
Information for financial businesses
You can read more information about marine insurance in the business section of our website. This includes technical details and information to help you resolve complaints.