Thursday, 12 March 2009

Boat insurance could become compulsory

Boat owners in Poole may have to take up extra insurance after the EU backed proposals to crack down on uninsured vessels.

Poole's deputy harbour master Ian Bishop said there was little control over the insurance of private boats.

"The only control we have there is if they take up a mooring, licensed or owned by Poole Harbour Commission, then we insist on at least third party insurance," he said.

Mr Bishop also described that hit and run incidents were also a problem.

"With small crafts it is more likely that the accident happens when someone isn't present on one of the boats and nobody bothers to report it for obvious reasons. It's quite common.

"Boats on moorings are often struck in the night and nobody reports it," he added.

However, he is also concerned about the cost of inspecting vessels and enforcing tighter regulations.

"Any inspection regime involves costs and at the moment we would have no way of recouping that. We would have to take on extra personnel," he said.

Head of enforcement at the Maritime and Coastgaurd Agency Jeremy Smart said: "Insurance has not been a legal requirement except for specific oil vessels, I have not had any cases of uninsured vessels that legally require it."

The EU plans could see this extended to other vessels.

EU Transport Commision vice-president Antonio Tajani said: "It is a significant step towards improved prevention of maritime accidents and increased accountability of all the operators in the sector."

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