Boat Insurance: Storage Shed Collapses
Boating isn’t normally top of mind in February but with this year’s heavy snowfall and ice buildup many boaters have been forced to think about it. We’ve seen an abundance of storage shed collapses this winter and as temperatures warm up and snow loads get heavier we’re expecting even more.
So what happens when a heavy snow load collapses onto your boat? The two main areas that are usually affected are the windshield and the canvas, neither of which are inexpensive to repair. The longer the snow sits on the windshield and top, the more chance of damage as temperatures fluctuate and snow gets heavier.
In terms of snow inside the boat, marine electronics are designed to withstand a certain amount of moisture and live wiring is generally covered. Moisture does however cause a terrible cleanup in the spring.
Of concern is what the additional weight is doing to the hull, a vulnerable part of the boat. For example, if the boat is blocked the weight of the snow can cause enough additional pressure to force the block into the hull, cracking or dis-forming it. This destabilizes the boat on it’s blocks. If a vertical beam is installed to support the bow cover in a bowrider, the weight of the snow can force it downwards into the hull. A boat stored on a roller trailer can have similar problems where the weight of the snow can force the boat down onto the rollers, damaging the hull. A boat should be stored on a trailer designed to distribute the weight evenly along the hull. The sooner you can remove the snow load, the less chance of damage.
The problem with storage shed collapses is that you don’t always know what is damaged until the spring or, if your boat is stored at the cottage, you may not even realize there’s a problem. This winter being a bad one means that local marinas and dealers are going to be busy with repairs. If you leave repair until the week before May 24th you may find yourself boatless for the long weekend. The sooner you can have the repairs done the sooner you can boat.
What if your boat was stored at a marina and the storage shed collapses? Are you responsible for paying for the repairs to your boat? This becomes a legal question. In order for the marina’s insurance policy to respond it must be proven that the marina’s negligence contributed to the collapse. For example, did the marina neglect to clear the snow from the structure. If the marina is found to have done everything possible and was therefore not negligent, it may not be responsible for the repairs to your boat. This is where your insurance policy comes in.
Every fall boaters ask us why they need insurance if the boat is in storage. This winter is a prime example of why marine insurance policies are 12 month policies. We encourage all boaters to protect themselves by keeping their policies active year round because there is nothing worse than having a client cancel the policy in October and call in January with a collapsed storage shed.