Outboard thefts

The theft of outboards appears to be growing, with organised and opportunist thefts on the rise

wide shot of rib a with security measure in place

Thefts can impact on water activity by reducing participation, creating dissatisfied members or customers, and causing a loss of income. Here are some FAQ’s to help your organisation to ideally prevent or deal with a loss.

How can we prevent outboard thefts?

It is worth considering replacing the engine cowling with a cover or paint the cowling. This makes the engine look less attractive, requiring anyone who steals an outboard to purchase a replacement cowling. Replacement cowling covers should only be used on appropriate vessels, during the right water and weather conditions.  

Add a tracking device or smart water to the outboard. This can be a preventative measure if you apply signage to promote the use of tracking devices.  Currently, RYA members can get a discount on Data Tags.

Other ways to prevent theft:

  • Add an anti-theft device in addition to its normal method of attachment.
  • Install CCTV cameras
  • Remove outboards and store them in a locked building

Some clubs have appointed volunteers to stay overnight at a club to act as a deterrent for thieves. This is not something we recommend due to the potential risk to your members.

example of security measure to protect you motor boat

What are the security requirements of the RYA Gallagher insurance policy for outboards?

The Gallagher RYA policy (standard practice within the market) carries two conditions relating to theft of Outboard Engines:

  1. Theft cover is only provided following forcible or violent entry into enclosed and secure premises. Typically, locked buildings, dinghy parks, or compounds. 
  2. Outboard Engines must be secured to a craft using an anti-theft device, aside from the normal method of attachment.  

close up of motor boat with security measure in place, says 'cowling removed'

How long does it take for the RYA Gallagher policy to reimburse an organisation that submits a claim? 

Whilst our scheme insurers, Navigators & General/Zurich, will always aim to settle claims in a swift and timely manner, the process can take several days as a minimum. 

Our experience has not been delays in receiving payment from insurers to return to post-loss activities, but the availability and supply of replacement equipment.

Will the RYA Gallagher insurance policy cover us if we have our outboards stolen? Will our premiums go up?

In line with the terms and conditions and on the provision that the two conditions mentioned above are met, cover will be provided for theft of insured outboard engines, subject to the applicable policy excess.

Depending on the size of the loss, insurers will review individual claims experience at renewal each year.  It is almost inevitable that a large loss may trigger an increase in rates. Insurers will also reserve the right to consider increased terms (in addition to premium) in situations whereby there is a frequency of loss or trend at any one specific location. 

There are many reasons as to why loss of key assets such as outboards presents a significant operational challenge to provision of sessions/activity. It is vitally important that all clubs try to minimise the potential for loss via enhanced security, storage in locked buildings, and maintaining a vigilant approach to unusual activity. This is very important, given that the thefts are likely to be pre-planned and organised.  

Business interruption cover is available and can cover loss of revenue (it is important to note that this is subject to certain terms and limitations). 

If this insurance is in place, having a robust continuity plan is important for events such as outboard engine thefts. This will help to minimise disruption (i.e., can they potentially borrow or do they have a replacement or spare available).

How easy it is to buy replacement outboards and how can we speed this up?

  • Order as quickly as you can - there can be issues with accessing engines so it's worth moving quickly should you need to order a replacement.
  • Be flexible - whilst you need an engine that sits within the recommended power range, you do not necessarily need to replace it with the same brand, or even with a new engine.  If advice is needed, you should refer to the hull dealer or manufacturer.
  • Having a good relationship with your local outboard dealer may also help to move you up their priority list.

What can we do to keep operating after losing some or all of our outboards (whilst ensuring activity is delivered safely)?   

  • Charter additional craft - consider using a commercial provider or create or use an existing partnership with a local provider - such as a sea cadets unit, scouts group, a sailing club or training centre.
  • Explore if there are organisations who will provide safety cover for your activity. Water safety charities or commercial providers may be able to offer this support.
  • Move your activity to another venue which does have functioning safety boats.
  • Re-programme activity so that remaining safety boats can be used over a greater number of hours.

For further questions or advice regarding insurance, contact the specialist RYA Gallagher Team.

Information last updated April 2024. 

The sole purpose of this article is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited and Royal Yachting Association, an Introducer Appointed Representative of Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited, accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.

Royal Yachting Association is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered Office: Spectrum Building 55 Blythswood Street, Glasgow, G2 7AT. Registered in Scotland. Company Number: SC108909. AR30-2024.