In it up to their necks

Steve Lodge on the jet-skiers who don't know that they're not insured

Thousands of beach-goers renting jet-skis this summer risk potentially huge bills if they have an accident because of a widespread holiday insurance gap. The risk may attract more attention following a number of recent tragedies involving jet-skis - which are also known as wet-bikes and are an increasingly popular beach activity.

Travel insurers will normally cover jet-skiers themselves for injury or loss of, say, their watch when they take a tumble. But the vast majority of policies will not cover jet-skiers for injury to other people or damage to whatever they collide with. Furthermore, insurance experts say few if any companies will offer it as an add-on, even where they have an "adventurous sports" upgrade, and in many cases cover will not be available abroad.

Without such third-party liability cover, jet-skiers could face compensation bills of up to hundreds of thousands of pounds for crashes they are responsible for.

Of 15 travel insurers contacted by the Independent on Sunday only one - Columbus - has a policy that offers third-party liability cover for people going jet-skiing; the others exclude it. Most insurers lump jet- skis in with a standard exclusion they have for "motorised vehicles" (land or waterborne). Many see the combination of most jet-skiing being done on rented bikes, in many cases by people with little experience, and the fact that the bikes are powered as putting jet-skiing in a different category to most other beach-based activities. As one insurer puts it: "It's all kids beered up to the eyeballs. It's a silly risk to take on."

Insurers admit that in most cases this means jet-skiers will not be insured at all for third-party damage. People renting on a faraway beach are unlikely to be required to take out, or even be offered, insurance. Anecdotal reports suggest that some rental firms ask holidaymakers to sign a waiver that they already have liability insurance, although the reality is jet-skiers will almost certainly not have third-party cover under any other existing policy.

If the jet-skis are provided through a tour operator then that company may have some cover, and equally some reputable rental firms may have insurance. But a spokesman for the Association of British Insurers says: "The short answer is to be careful."

Certainly there is little indication that holidaymakers are aware of the financial risks they are taking with what is an increasingly popular holiday pastime. Over 50 per cent of holidaymakers surveyed recently by Columbus Travel Insurance said they had no idea if jet-skiing or other "hazardous" sports they had tried were covered by their travel insurance policy.

Columbus was the only insurer uncovered in our research to confirm that it offered third-party liability cover for jet-skiers. But, bizarrely, the same policy excludes liability cover for windsurfers, which most people would regard as less dangerous. The insurer says the difference probably reflects a bad claims history with windsurfers.

Our research also highlighted travel insurers' different attitudes to adventurous activities generally. Most give personal cover (as opposed to liability) for jet-skiers as standard, although one of the most recent entrants to the market - Direct Line, which includes Tesco's new policies - can be more restrictive. But fewer than half of insurers offer personal cover for bungee jumping as standard.

Where possible, therefore, the advice for holidaymakers thinking they might try adventurous activities is to check whether a chosen travel policy includes them, or whether they can be included at reasonable cost - before they go. Where there are exclusions that cannot be overcome - such as with third-party liability for jet-skiers - holidaymakers would be well advised to try to find a rental company with insurance.

q Research by Louise Hancock.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Sell it with flowers: competition is 'intense' for homes with outside spaces

Gardens add a tenth to the value of your home

A London estate agent yesterday put a price on having a garden. David Pollock of Greene & Co reckons it can increase a property's value by a tenth.

Spectators at the Isle of Wight music festival watch the World Cup on the big screen. Betting promotions were a feature of the tournament
Lenders have been accused of persuading vulnerable people to borrow expensive credit

Payday loan firms accused of bombarding vulnerable people with nuisance phone calls

Payday loan firms have been accused of bombarding financially vulnerable people with nuisance phone calls, after a debt charity reported that a third of its clients were plagued by the messages.

The foundation proposed that the Government sets up a scheme to help people avoid losing their homes

Mortgages: 'Homeowners could trade down to shared ownership to defuse rate rise timebomb'

A plan to defuse a “mortgage debt timebomb” when interest rates rise is published today amid warnings that 2.3m households could struggle with their repayments.

Current accounts are too costly and confusing, says CMA as it announces investigation into Britain's biggest banks

Competition regulator to investigate market where it's hard for customers to make comparisons and the big banks' charges can be set too high
All the signs have been pointing up for buy-to-let, but there are clouds on the horizon

Buy-to-let: is it a boom or a bubble fit to burst?

People borrowing to be landlords could face the same restrictions as homebuyers, with MPs voicing fears that property speculation may be overheating the market

Moment of truth for payday lenders: Watchdog plans to curb cost of short-term loans

The chief of the City watchdog, Martin Wheatley, spoke exclusively to The Independent's Simon Read about its attempts to control the worst excesses of unscrupulous high-cost credit companies

Consumers given power to choose a green deal

How would you like to be able to choose how your electricity is made and even where it come from? It may sound futuristic and fanciful but the independent supplier Co-operative Energy has made it a reality this week.

'Scrap the trap': calls for change grow as banks are told to play fair with loyal savers

City regulator says existing customers suffer worst rates

Motor insurers divided on proposals for whiplash ban

MPs want medical evidence for claims. Will this bring higher premiums?

British Gas repays £1m for mis-sold deals

British Gas was yesterday forced to pay back £1m to its customers after mis-selling them energy deals.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

    £350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

    Graduate / Trainee Recruitment Consultant - IT

    £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Orgtel are seeking Graduate Trainee Re...

    HR Business Partner - Banking Finance - Brentwood - £45K

    £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: ** HR Business Partner - Senior H...

    PA / Team Secretary - Wimbledon

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: PA / Team Secretary - Mat...

    Day In a Page

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on