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Autumn time is charter time. When local yachts are taken to their winter storage places, the season slowly begins for the charter companies. More and more skippers are enjoying the opportunity to escape the winter at home, at least for a short time. However, one of the biggest financial risks here is the deposit that has to be paid. If the deposit is retained due to damage, this is always an unpleasant surprise.

It is important to know that not every deposit insurance policy on the market covers all common damage scenarios. A withholding of the charter deposit, whether in full or in part, is for many the worst case scenario imaginable following a vacation cruise. The relaxation feeling acquired from the vacation vanishes and the total costs for the trip increase dramatically from one minute to the next.  It is for this reason that deposit insurance has been standard for most charter crews for a long time. Risk is known, risk is gone, one could say. Nevertheless, in practice, it is sometimes different, as attorney Gunnar Brock of Pantaenius can confirm: "Some deposit insurance policies make a crucial distinction for the customer between the lawful and unlawful retention of the deposit and cover only the lawful retention of the deposit. However, whether damage was caused during use by the skipper and his crew, or possibly has existed for some time, is far from provable in all cases. We are often confronted with cases where the deposit is retained without any damage being caused by the crew. Pantaenius therefore covers, unlike some other providers, in principle any retention of the deposit as long as the cause of the damage is alleged."

A carefully completed handover protocol does provide protection, but once the deposit is withheld, the customer's immediate options are very limited. This is because, legitimate or not, litigation abroad is difficult, costly and, in most cases, time-consuming.

Take care with the Exclusions

For charter skippers and their crews, however, other pitfalls await in the insurance terms and conditions. Gunnar Brock advises that it is always worth checking how an insurance provider reacts in the event of a retained deposit due to engine or gearbox damage, for example: "If this particular type of damage is excluded from the insurance cover, a significant risk is simply not covered. Or, with some providers, it should be examined carefully whether the sum insured is lower than the security deposit, in which case, there is the risk of underinsurance, with substantial reductions. Or whether regattas are completely excluded. The only thing is, of course, that very few people read the fine print that carefully."

What insurance do charterers need?

In principle, Gunnar Brock recommends that every charter customer take out skipper's liability insurance and travel cancellation insurance, in addition to the aforementioned deposit insurance. Depending on personal needs and insurance policies from existing contracts, it may also be advisable to take out passenger accident insurance or foreign travel sickness insurance. Even if charter companies should have insured their yachts with a liability insurance that has a sufficient limit, as a customer you can hardly rely on this or know the full extent of their coverage. One must always remember: The skipper is always liable, along with his full personal assets, for all damages resulting from the use of the chartered yacht. However, in many countries, the minimum insured limit for liability insurance is only 200,000 euros. This sum is often too low, especially in the case of personal injury.

The skipper's liability insurance included in the Pantaenius charter packages provides a remedy for this case. In addition to the skipper, it also provides cover for up to to 9 crew members, even if they live together. Family cruises are therefore possible without any problems. In addition, the loss of charter due to damage to the chartered yacht is automatically insured.

The travel cancellation insurance should include coverage as broad as possible. Check the list of insurance exclusions! This is especially important for larger crews with different age and health profiles as it can be expensive under certain circumstances. It should be noted that many providers will exclude unemployment or even pregnancy, as well as the associated secondary illnesses.

With Pantaenius, the deposit insurance can be subscribed as part of a charter package, individually or as a supplement. For higher deposit amounts, common in the Caribbean, simply complete the booking process several times. In this way, the deposit amount for the respective cruise can be easily adjusted to personal needs.

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