24 July 2020, text: Hansjörg Ryser and Sandra Biraghi, photo: Unsplash
The Swiss really like to spend their free time at the water: there are nearly 30,000 sailing boats and 60,000 rowing boats, plus several thousand pedalos bobbing about on Swiss lakes and rivers.
How are these craft insured? Like cars, large sailing yachts with a sail area of over 15m2, boats with an electric motor (over 500 watts) and large motor yachts require liability insurance. This is valid throughout Europe and covers liability for both the boat and any dinghy. If these craft are hired out commercially or used for passenger transport, they need supplementary insurance, which is also the case if they are used to pull water skiers.
Partially or fully comprehensive insurance is recommended for damage to your own boat and can also cover accessories such as outboard motors or fishing equipment. Passenger insurance provides daily allowances and lump-sum benefits for your companions on the water, which may be important mainly for passengers not in gainful employment, particularly children. Boat rentals usually include fully comprehensive insurance, but often with a deductible of up to CHF 1,000.
Those who prefer their craft on the smaller side and take to the water on a surfboard, in a dinghy or on a stand-up paddleboard should at least have private liability insurance, as accidents involving swimmers or other water sports enthusiasts can quickly happen. It is therefore advisable to also have assistance insurance to cover rescue costs. Your sports equipment is insured if you have added theft away from home to your household contents insurance (provided it is also reflected in the sum insured); if “all risks” has been added, the loss of or damage to other valuable belongings is also included.
Despite the holiday atmosphere, alcohol is just as inappropriate on the water as it is when driving. On registered boats, an alcohol limit of 0.5 milligrams per millilitre applies to the boatman. On other watercraft too, the insurance cover can be restricted if you are not fit to sail and something happens. In this case, a supplementary waiver-of-gross negligence clause will not help either.