The Financial Ombudsman website http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/publications/technical_notes/marine-insurance.html#seaworthy
provides useful information. It should be noted that most insurance policies exclude losses caused by 'unseaworthiness'. This is defined under the Marine insurance Act of 1906: 'she is reasonably fit in all respects to encounter the ordinary perils of the adventure insured'. In looking at claims rejected on this basis the FOS will look for evidence as to whether the vessel was regularly and well maintained by a professional marine engineer - and whether the servicing and maintenance was carried out in line with manufacturer and industry recommendations. In addition there are basic checks and precautions that FOS believe reasonable to carry out include the following:
§ checking the bilges (inside the bottom of the vessel), to ensure that there is no water in them - as this may be evidence of a leak;
§ inserting bungs into the drain holes at the back of the vessel, if it is being launched from a trailer;
§ closing all seacocks, to prevent water getting back into the vessel; and checking all safety equipment.
The FOS website also provides important information on security; that insurance policies often include additional security requirements e.g. a particular type of lock, dinghies being named, outboard motor serial numbers recorded etc. It is important to read the policy in detail to ensure the requirements are met.