Learn more about water systems and insurance

Yachts owned by a syndicate or multiple owners

Insurance – personal liability
Normally an owner insures his yacht. The insurance covers him for any accidents including personal injury to anyone on the yacht, anyone except himself. As quite common with insurance be it household, motor etc cover does not extend to injuries to oneself. Separate Personal Accident insurance is available for this cover. Where there is more than one owner the situation could be problematical.

A possible scenario.
Two owners X & Y are enjoying a sailing holiday. At some stage Y is off watch, asleep below. X is on watch in the cockpit. The yacht hits a semi-submerged object – perhaps a jettisoned shipping container and this ruptures the hull causing injury to Y while he sleeps in the pilot berth, his wrist badly broken. By profession Y is a violinist, 30 years old and on the threshold of a career as a soloist. This injury curtails his career.

Y’s compensation specialist solicitor tells him he has a case for negligence against X.
X owed his co-owner Y a duty of care, (as the person on watch) he failed to exercise care (he failed to watch properly and avoid the offending item) and Y suffered significant financial loss.

If Y had been a third party, a visitor not associated with the yacht, other than simply being on it, the insurance would cover it. But in this scenario Y is also an owner and therefore the insurance does not cover him. His solicitor tells him in that case he should sue X for damages. X has no insurance cover for this ( Public Liability?) and faces an unpleasant and potentially a ruining claim.

Even if Y has personal injury cover and his insurers pay him they could pass on that cost to any person, in this case X, who they could prove was negligent and caused the loss.

I am told informally, and it may not be true, that it has been held that club members do not owe fellow club members a duty of care or a defence of volenti non fit injuria may apply but in today’s increasingly litigious society there is concern.. I sure many of your readers would like to know the position, is it something your panel of experts could advise on.
David H Miller

Joe Field, insurance expert replies:
An insurance policy usually covers a boat owner for personal injury claims from third parties, but it will not cover the insured boat owner for injuries he sustains as a result of their own negligence other than under any personal accident extension, which may be fairly limited.

The question of joint owners and/or co-insureds claiming against one another in the event of injury is more complex, as each insurance company will have its own policy wording which may exclude or provide cover in these circumstances. If the policy is silent, general insurance principles will have to be relied upon to determine if a joint owner or co-insured is covered in the particular circumstances.

Insurance is intended to provide protection against unforeseeable accidents, or fortuities, it is not meant to provide a means for the Insured to achieve financial gain. For this reason Insureds claiming off each other is not automatically covered. In a similar manor there must be a financial interest in the subject matter insured to be named on the policy.

Where an insured wishes to confirm whether they would be able to make a claim under the third party section of the policy in the event of an injury caused by the negligence of their co-insured or joint owner, they should seek such confirmation from their broker or insurer. Insureds should not assume this element of cover is automatically included, although such cover may be available at an additional premium. Each claim should really be considered on it’s individual circumstances, and all other policy conditions and warranties taken into account.

Some insurers, including Navigators & General include an extension under their policy to allow the insured to claim as a third party under their policy against other passengers, if injured due to the negligence of a passenger in charge of the boat under the insureds authority and control.

With regard to club members, it may be that by becoming members, they have contractually agreed to limit certain duties between the members, but it should be borne in mind that it is not possible to limit liability for injury or death, and the question depends above all on the precise details of the Club rules, which amount to a contact between each member of the Club, but also between each of the members families.

I have what appears to be a factory fitted / original calorifier on a
Sigma 362 with a leaking pressure release valve. I have replaced the
valve with a pressure tested unit and it is still leaking when the water
is hot, the pressurised system is on and the taps are closed.

I know they are supposed to release water but this seems excessive and
continues until a tap is opened, with the result that most of the hot
water is going in to the bilge! The water pump is 2 bar and the relief
valve is 3 bar. Is the answer to replace with a higher rated valve – if
so do you have any ideas on the pressure tested level of the tank?
Alternatively is there another problem with the tank/system?

Nick Orford.

Gerald Kennion – Engineering Director, Cleghorn Waring Pumps replies:

This is an unusual problem. If this was a straight pressure problem
where the pump pressure was higher than the tank relief valve pressure I
would expect water leakage to occur irrespective of the water

Water expands when it is heated and, if an expansion tank is not fitted,
is forced from the relief valve irrespective of its pressure rating.
This is normally a fairly small amount.

However, if the pump cut-out is very close to the relief vale opening
pressure, it is possible that the opening of the relief valve, caused by
this expansion, will create a situation where it remains open until the
pressure drops when a tap is used. As you have already replaced the
relief valve I suggest the cut-out pressure of the pump is checked,
using a pressure gauge, and corrected if necessary.

I also recommend a non-return valve and expansion tank be fitted to the
calorifier cold water inlet. A correctly sized expansion tank will stop
the small loss of water during heating. This is important as it leads to
calcium build up on the valve and eventual failure.