Do you need sailing travel insurance at all?
No, not if you only sail in your home waters. But sail further afield and you should give it some serious thought.
Because, no matter how fit, strong, healthy and competent you are, offshore sailing remains a risky business. Like most cruising sailors, Mary and I aren't risk averse - or we wouldn't be sailors - but we do believe in mitigating those risks that we can influence and insuring against those that we can't.
One such risk is that of requiring medical attention following a serious accident or illness in a foreign country, particularly one that doesn't have reciprocal healthcare arrangements with your home country.
In the worst case - requiring a Medivac flight to a country where adequate private medical facilities do exist - you can probably wave goodbye to your cruising budget, your boat and maybe your home too if you're not covered under a travel insurance policy.
Some years ago we noticed that our Building Society offered a travel insurance policy to its members. I gave them a call...
It seemed markedly cheap - warning bells should have been ringing loudly - but we asked all the right questions, or so we thought...
"Does it cover us for sailing our own boat in the West Indies?", we asked.
"Yes", they said.
"Even when we're sailing between the islands?", we asked.
"Yes", they said, "Providing you don't go outside territorial waters."
"So we're insured in territorial waters, but not when we're in international waters?" we asked.
"That's right", they said.
We intended sailing the island chain between Anguilla and Trinidad, which meant that most of the time we'd be in the territorial waters of one country or another. We felt that the risk of injury or illness occurring in the short time spent in international waters was acceptable, so we signed up. Fortunately our cruise went without the need to a claim on the policy.
We enjoyed this fools' paradise for a couple more seasons until the following season, when we approached our friendly Building Society man again, asked the same questions and got similar answers.
But this time I pushed him on the territorial/international waters bit.
Boy, had we deluded ourselves!
It turned out that once we had left the territorial waters of the first island we visited and entered international waters on passage to the next, our whole insurance policy would have become IMMEDIATELY AND TOTALLY INVALID!
Our 'cheap' travel insurance could have turned out to be very expensive indeed.
Further research revealed that even major standard travel insurance companies were unable to provide the cover we required.
Older now, and wiser - and it's a sad fact that the older you get the more expensive sailing travel insurance becomes - we bite the bullet and pay for the cover that only a bespoke Sailing Travel Insurance Policy can provide.
We've found that our yacht insurance company also provides a separate policy providing the cover we need for cruising around the Caribbean Islands.
This policy, Pantaenius Mariners Travel Insurance, has been designed specifically for sailors and is ideally suited for holidays, whether or not you are using your yacht as a base, sailing rallies and longer trips, or for those working as crew.
It includes all the associated covers you would expect from a standard travel policy but provides additional specific sailing-related benefits including cover for sailing worldwide, inside or outside territorial waters.
As a sponsor of this site, Pantaenius are currently offering a 10% discount to any of our visitors applying for the Mariner’s Travel policy.
Interested? Just visit Mariners Travel Insurance and use the code SBS16.