Lock it up or take it home, don’t leave valuables in the car, most theft is opportunistic … several phrases come to mind that prompt us to keep our belongings away from thieves’ sticky fingers and prying eyes. While these pearls of wisdom are generally directed at our homes and cars, they apply equally to boats and the things we have in them – that could be fishing gear, electronic devices, safety equipment, or personal belongings in cabins and saloons.
Club Marine receives far too many calls from members wanting to lodge a claim because a stranger has helped themselves to their property. The most common of these claims is fishing gear stolen from the back of unattended boats, including from boats parked overnight in the driveway or at the marina ready for a fishing trip the next day, boats left unattended at the ramp during launching or retrieving, and while refuelling or buying bait or ice on the way to/from a fishing trip.
The lesson to be learned here is never to store fishing gear unsecured in the boat when it’s not in use – lock it up, take it inside, or stick around and keep an eye on it. The same applies to personal effects, diving gear, portable electronic devices and anything else that might be of interest to a thief.
Theft of GPS/sounders and other electronic devices mounted on the dashboard is also a regular cause of insurance claims – even hardwired and fitted models – so keeping them covered and out of sight can act as a deterrent … it’s even better to remove them.
Smaller boats are particularly vulnerable as it’s easier to reach into them and they often don’t have much stowage space, let alone lockable compartments, making it easy for opportunistic thieves to snatch and run. Again – if they can’t be locked up, remove them.
Club Marine member Don Skarstrom recently endured the harrowing experience of what he calls an “uninvited person” removing items from his boat. Like the majority of theft victims, he thought it would never happen to him but, in the early hours of the morning, someone decided they needed his GPS, fishfinder, rods and fishing tackle more than he did.
“First thing, you make a call to the police to register the incident, then you call your insurance company – Club Marine – to make a claim,” says Don of the ordeal. “They ask you for serial numbers, proof of ownership or photos … and that’s my first mistake. Who keeps these? Thankfully, I could call the dealer who sold the vessel to me five years ago and, luckily, they keep better records than I do and could forward the receipt.
“My second mistake – again, who keeps receipts for purchasing rods, reels, braided line, lures, sinkers, hooks, tackle boxes, and so on? Like many fishermen, I collected these items over the years and many were gifted by family.
“I finalised everything I needed to lodge the claim and within five working days Club Marine was happy to assist – well done Club Marine, I will have the vessel back on the water within a few weeks.”
Don makes an important point – keeping records with photos, receipts, serial numbers and so on will help support a claim, while marking items makes them easier for police to identify if found.
“As we all say: it won’t happen to me … you might want to think again,” advises Don.
TO BE, OR NOT TO BE INSURED
It’s important to note that some items stolen off the boat (this includes fishing gear, diving equipment, waterski equipment and personal effects) are only insured if there is visible evidence of forced entry into a lockable compartment of the boat – this could be the cabin if it’s lockable, or compartments where forcible entry is required to gain access. The adage ‘don’t invite thieves into your home’ also rings true for the boat – out of sight, out of mind lessens the risk of opportunistic light fingers grabbing what’s yours, while locking it up adds a layer of protection.
And keep in mind that the onus is on the insured to prevent loss or damage – this means any claim for loss or damage caused by, or arising as a result of, the lack of reasonable care, protection or security of the boat and goods is not covered.
In the event of a claim, you’ll also be asked to provide proof of ownership of the stolen items, so it’s prudent to keep an inventory of everything with receipts, photos, serial numbers and so on. Many members use the Club Marine App to keep these records in one spot, making it convenient to produce if needed.
To be certain which of your items are insured, and to check what dollar value they’re covered for, read the policy schedule – it sets out the limits, type and level of cover that applies specifically to your boat and the belongings you might have in it.
Additionally, you can check what’s included in the various components of the boat in the ‘Words with Special Meanings’ section of the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) – for example, items covered under fishing gear, equipment and accessories, diving and waterski equipment, and personal effects. Here’s a summary: Fishing Gear – rods and reels (but take note – not fishing tackle) used for the purpose of recreational/sport fishing
Equipment and Accessories – safety equipment that meets statutory or other legal requirements and any other equipment. This includes boat canopies, fishing gear (but not fishing tackle), waterski and wakeboarding equipment, diving equipment, and tools
Diving Equipment – masks, snorkels, flippers, regulators, tanks, buoyancy compensation devices, compressors
Water Ski Equipment – waterskis, knee boards, wakeboards, ski biscuits, vests and ropes Personal Effects – clothing, shoes, waterproof gear, wetsuits, prescription glasses and manchester.
And remember – if you’re unsure about the extent of your insurance cover, or would like more information, you can call Club Marine on 1300 00 CLUB (2582).