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More than just a toy

Superyacht tenders have been getting bigger, faster and more expensive for years. Regardless of whether a tender is a pure means of transport or a luxury toy - tenders should always be handled with the utmost care, both when at the helm and with regard to yacht insurance. The Pantaenius claims statistics prove this impressively. Unfortunately, tender coverage still seems to be the weakest point of many policies, as Olivier de Roffignac of Pantaenius Monaco knows.

Within a few days, pictures of a tender crash that took place off the Balearic Islands in 2016 went around the world via Facebook and countless superyacht publications. A seven-metre-long rigid inflatable boat crashed into the starboard side of a 38-metre motor yacht. The tender, which belonged to one of the superyachts anchored nearby, hit the hull of the yacht at around 30 knots. Fortunately, nobody was injured. The damage, however, amounted to nearly one and a half million euros. Pantaenius settled the hull damage and then sought recompense from the P&I club covering the tender’s mother ship.

On average, Pantaenius receives about 50 claims related to tenders per year. The causes of the claims are as diverse as the tenders with which they are caused: High-speed collisions resulting in damages to third-party yachts, injuries to the yacht’s crew and guests, tender engine failures - due to overuse or lack of ongoing maintenance.

Not all tender claims are as spectacular as the case described above. Nevertheless, the case handling is often very complex. One of the reasons for this is the definition of the tender, as Olivier de Roffignac points out: “From the insurance point of view, a tender always belongs to the mother ship. In other words, only activities related to the mother ship are covered. This applies to both hull and liability insurance. Therefore, if tenders are not used as a means of transport to or from the mother ship or because the mother ship is not suitable for entry into certain bays, it should be checked whether the planned use of the tender could actually still be regarded as related to the use of the mother ship. If a tender is not used in connection to its mother ship or is separately registered, a separate hull and liability policy should be in place to ensure full insurance coverage.” De Roffignac adds: “It depends on size. For a 60m vessel in Monaco with a big tender, it would not be a problem if the owner and his guests go to St. Tropez in the tender for the day to have lunch and then return.”

In order to make things clearer, The Shipowners' P&I Club have introduced a definition to their 2019 wording: “Tender means any craft whether owned, chartered, or otherwise used by the Insured and which is either stowed on board the yacht and/or towed by the yacht when she is underway and which is used in connection with the yacht to transfer the owner, guests and crew of the yacht, or to provide support to the yacht and/or entertainment to the owner, guests and crew of the yacht.”

When tenders are replaced or new ones bought, it is also important to take a close look at the insurance policy. As prices for the evermore-luxurious tenders rise, so does the likelihood that the value of a tender will affect the policy’s total sum insured.

“Some policies will exclude liability to persons who use the yacht’s tenders and who do not possess necessary licenses required by flag”, de Roffignac warns. “Therefore, it is essential that the owner, manager and captain read their policy exclusions to understand what, and who, is covered. It is understood, however, that in any case captains should have a special interest in crew members serving the tenders also having the appropriate licenses and above all practical experience. Unfortunately, with tender claims, we register a disproportionately high percentage of personal injuries. Overstraining is as dangerous as recklessness, and tenders are becoming more and more sophisticated. Multi engine, propeller, water jet drives and bow thrusters all have different handling characteristics. Those who set out in the middle of the night to transport a group of high-spirited and possibly alcoholised guests back to the yacht should have the experience and expertise to be able to handle the vessel in their sleep.”

If tenders are regularly towed by the mother ship, it is important to consider this in the policy, as underwriters will assume a higher risk in this case. Some policies require a 24/7 watch when a tender is towed. If the crew does not meet these warranties, the insurance cover is at risk. Small tenders in particular can start to plane when towing at speeds as low as 15 knots, which can make handling much more difficult. In heavy weather, a flooded tender in tow can also become a danger for the mother ship. A further risk is posed by under proportioned fittings, which lead to the tender being lost. Larger tenders are rarely towed in any case; as this means that the mother ship is a crew member down when entering a marina or port, as one is manning the tender.

If the yacht is on charter with several guests, additional water toys, such as Jet Skis may be required. If additional Jet Skis, or similar, are being rented, it is extremely important to check whether additional water sports equipment or tenders are included in your policy. The owner can of course take out additional insurance for hull damage, but liability risks should always be checked to see if they can be included in the yacht's policy or if they are already included.


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