If you own a boat, you know it is a great way to spend time outdoors with friends and family. While your state may not require you to carry boat insurance, it is probably a good idea anyway. If you have a loan on your boat or you dock it in a marina, your homeowner’s policy may not be enough insurance to satisfy the necessary requirements.
What Is Boat Insurance?
Boat insurance covers you in the event of a loss or damage to your boat. It covers most watercraft with motors, including fishing boats, pontoon boats, paddle boats, leisure crafts and yachts. For small watercraft, you may find some limited coverage under your homeowner’s policy. You may also be able to add a special endorsement or buy separate coverage.
What Does Boat Insurance Cover?
Your boat insurance policy may include the following:
- Collision damage: Includes repair or replacement of your boat, but may or may not include clean-up of wreckage unless you purchase optional additional coverage.
- Property damage liability: Covers damage you might cause to someone else’s boat, a dock, or other property or structures.
- Bodily injury liability: Covers injury you might cause someone while using your boat; includes medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and legal expenses.
- Comprehensive: Provides compensation if your boat is vandalized, stolen, or damaged in an incident other than a collision.
- Additional coverage options: Coverage for medical payments, fishing equipment, oil spills, personal property and roadside assistance, as well as injuries from accidents caused by boaters who are uninsured or underinsured.
The amount of compensation you receive for a claim depends on a few things, including your deductible, policy limits and whether your boater’s insurance covers your boat’s actual cash value, replacement cost or agreed upon value.
How Does Boat Insurance Work?
When you buy boat insurance, you must decide on the amount of coverage you need for your boat, the deductible (maximum out of pocket expense per claim) and the types of coverage you need. You can file a claim and receive a payment covering the loss in the event that you have an accident, experience a theft, or have another loss that is covered under your policy.
As an example, if you were in an accident with another boat that caused serious damage to your vessel, one of the following things would most likely occur, depending upon the insurance coverage you and the other boater own and the laws in your state:
- If you were at fault, your boat liability insurance would cover the damage up to the limits of the policy.
- If the other boater was at fault, his coverage would pay for your damages, up to the limits of his policy.
- If the other boater was at fault, but did not have boat insurance, or did not have enough to cover your expenses, uninsured/underinsured boaters coverage could pay for bodily injury. You would need the physical damage coverage on your boat policy to cover damage to the boat.
How Much Does Boat Insurance Cost?
The cost of boat insurance varies depending on:
- The state you live in
- The type, size, and age of the boat you wish to insure
- Motor size and power type
- Whether you are using it on inland waters or the open seas
- Whether you have selected additional coverage options
In general, boat insurance can range anywhere from as little as $75 to as much as $500 per year.
We offer discounts that can give you a price break under certain situations. For example, you may be able to elect a layup discount if you don’t use the boat year-round, or a discount for boating in fresh water instead of salt water. You may also qualify for discounts if you’ve taken a boating safety course, or a good driving discount if your boating record is unblemished.
Is Boat Insurance Required?
Boaters often want to know whether they have to carry boat insurance to enjoy the water. Boat insurance is sometimes required for a variety of reasons. For example, some states require that you have liability coverage. Marinas may require you to have boat insurance in order to dock your boat there. Additionally, if you take out a loan to buy a boat, the lender will most likely require that you purchase boaters insurance.
How Much Boat Insurance Do I Need?
The amount of boat insurance you need depends on a number of factors, including the boat’s value, motor size, age, and how you use it. For example, if you have a brand new high performance speed boat, you will need more coverage for bodily injury and property damage liability than if you buy a pleasure cruiser.
We recommend buying at least $300,000 in liability insurance, and even more if you have a fast, powerful boat that is both riskier and can cause more damage.
For uninsured/underinsured boaters coverage, a typical minimum is $10,000. However, the amount you purchase should reflect the potential injuries you may need to cover if you or one of your passengers is seriously hurt.
Your other coverage amounts, including collision coverage and comprehensive coverage, should be based specifically on the value of your boat.
- Passengers? Yes, it covers your passengers as well as you, the owner.
- Theft? Your Comprehensive coverage will cover the boat itself, but your personal possessions may or may not be covered.
- Hurricanes? This depends on the structure of your policy.
- What if I hit a rock? Your comprehensive or property damage coverage will cover collision with rocks, logs, and other marine obstacles.
Where Can I Get Boat Insurance?
We can help you make an informed decision, and get the best price for your coverage. Give us a call today to ensure you are adequately protected!
Updated June 23, 2023