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December 18, 2013

By hovercraft.org

Hovercraft Insurance

Hovercraft Insurance

Hovercraft Insurance  – Information changes from time to time, and if you know of insurers not listed here, be sure to contact us with their information so I can update this.  If you provide insurance, contact us to add your details.

Hovercraft Insurance

Hovercraft Insurance

Do you need insurance to operate a hovercraft in the USA?

In the USA, some people add hovercraft to their Home Owner’s Insurance. It’s important to call it a ‘boat’ and not a ‘hovercraft’ when talking to insurance companies. Legally, hovercraft are boats, and under US Federal Law, Hovercraft manufacturers are considered to be a boat manufacturers. Keep in mind that it will always be less costly to add your hovercraft insurance to an existing policy or policies than it would be to purchase a stand-alone policy.

You could try contacting the following company through your agent:

  1. Markel American Insurance P.O. Box 906 Pewaukee, WI 53072-09066 800-236-9283 Fax: 262-548-3288 http://www.markelinsuresfun.com
  2. Try also contacting: Corporate Offices: United Marine Underwriters 1309 Bluegrass Parkway LaGrange, KY 40031 Email: umu@unitedmarine.net Telephone:   800-477-7140 Local: 502-222-0199   Fax: 502-222-0299 After Hours Emergency Claims: 502-222-0199
  3. Also try:  American Modern Insurance Group P.O. Box 5323 Cincinnati, OH 45201-5323 866-884-6167

In the UK, we understand that the following 3 companies offer insurance cover for hovercraft.

  1. Bay Marine Insurance Consultants Limited Cardiff Marine Village Penarth Road CARDIFF CF11 8TU Telephone: 029 2023 5756 Fax: 029 2022 9126 Mobile: 07774 654 589
  2. Richard Weston FCII Richard Weston Ltd P O Box 168, London SW20 8LE Tel:  020-8543 6166 Fax:  020-8543 6168 Authorised and regulated by the FSA, No 306824
  3. A-Plan Insurance Group Independent Insurance Consultants 58/60 Commercial Road,  Ashley Cross,  Parkstone BH14 0JT Tel: 01202 725165 Fax: 01202 743 487 Email: marine@aplan.co.uk Contact James Winchester

How do I get the best hovercraft insurance rates?

  • Choose a hovercraft with great safety features, durable hull, excellent buoyancy, one fitted with a fan guard to the front and rear of the rotating fans that spin round at 2000 rpm.
  • Steer clear of obstacles like trees and hovercraft with modified uprated engines.
  • If a proper certified training course is offered by the supplier, provide a copy of the certificate to the insurer because they have to calculate the risk to decide what premium they charge you.
  • If venturing out in coastal areas, it might be sensible to consider attending a power boat training course such as Power Boat Level 2 – then you will know who gives way to who, and how to navigate – see http://www.rya.org.uk/startboating/Pages/RIBsSportsboat.aspx  I took the Day Skipper Course, and gained a better understanding of what you should consider to prepare when going out, for example, mobile phones don’t always get a signal when away from the coast, so perhaps a VHF radio would be useful, perhaps take a mini flare pack, fruit and vegetables to ward off scurvy on longer trips! (Written by a limey)

How safe are hovercraft?

  • Very safe. There are so few accidents, insurers often don’t appreciate how safe hovercraft are. (Most Jet Ski accidents by contrast involve high pressure water accidents near orifices, sounds orrible!)
  • I check all the safety reports for hovercraft accidents. A chap lost 2 fingers in Australia last year because the fans were unguarded, so he can’t make rude gestures no more; if you want your kids to play guitar or piano in later life, make sure the hovercraft fans are correctly guarded front and rear.
  • Two years back, a self builder in New Zealand was tragically killed by his self build hovercraft with unguarded fans.
  • A few glass fibre hovercraft have required rescue.

Submit a Risk Assessment to show the insurer you are responsible

Here are a few safety tips to consider implementing, and to mention to insurers that you have done so in your risk assessment.

  • Make sure that loose ends don’t reach the fans when spinning, so no scarves, neck ties, long hair, life preserver straps, trailer tie down straps.
  • Look out for trouble and take action to avoid problems.
  • Make sure that you have enough fuel on board. Make sure that the fuel tank is ventilated, so no vacuum restricts fuel.
  • Make sure drainage bungs are properly fitted – perhaps you took them out when cleaning your craft.
  • Take VHF radio  – a mobile phone is not really something to depend on while out at sea.
  • Don’t exceed the on-water payload – some suppliers fudge payload specifications, generally a hovercraft will carry 50% more weight when starting on land, so drill down to the on-water payload, because hovercraft all create a pressure wave when starting on water (the hump) and to get over hump, you must carry less weight than the recommended on-water payload. If you are taking extra fuel, each litre weighs one Kg, check how many pies your passengers have eaten, you may be over the on-water payload weight.
  • Some hovercraft plow-in, this means nose-dive so check whether the hovercraft has anti-plow features, some are better than others. If a hovercraft plows in, you could be catapulted over the handlebars so watch your marriage prospects.
  • Don’t try to fly onto the trailer, winch it on. Don’t let the winch handle spin out of control.
  • Avoid thin glass fibre craft, especially if going over ice, or near trees! (Hovercraft are very weight sensitive, so suppliers make the hulls really thin to try get better performance from cheaper under-powered engines.)
  • Avoid poorly designed hovercraft, for example, does a hot exhaust pipe run around the outside of the craft to cause burns?
  • Don’t let uninsured inexperienced children loose with the controls, always supervise.
  • Wear life preserver jackets, ensure straps don’t flap about anywhere near the fan blades.
  • Avoid theft. Immobilise the craft and trailer, and photograph the HIN plate to assist police to identify the hovercraft as your craft. There are tracking devices available on the market. Very few hovercraft ever get stolen because they are rare, and difficult to sell by auction through the Internet without everyone knowing about the description.

If you are running a hovercraft rental business, request public liability insurance. Insurers may ask you to provide a risk assessment document. This is something you need to create, not ask the manufacturer for. A risk assessment statement might cover operational details, so insurers may ask how you control interest from crowds waiting for the rides, whether you provide life preservers, if you have fire extinguishers, whether you have communication headsets to enable you to converse with the passengers.

Insurance is largely about risk assessment and how to minimize accidents, so by taking a few common sense measures, you should be able to find insurance providers in your country.

If you offer insurance and are not listed, please send us your details.

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