Recreational boating is a very popular summer activity for millions of people, but it’s not the cheapest hobby in the world. If you’ve decided to buy your own boat and splashed the cash, you’ll probably want to protect both it and yourself with proper boat insurance.
Why do I need boat insurance?
Although it might seem unlikely, boating accidents do happen every year. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll be completely on the hook to pay for all injury and property damage expenses that you’re responsible for.
This is true for your own boat as well. If your boat gets damaged in any way, you’ll be left with the bill to fix it. And since boats can easily cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, that’s probably not a bill you’d like to pay a 2nd time.
Some of the most common types of boating claims include:
- Colliding with another watercraft
- Colliding with the pier when trying to dock
- Weather or storm damage to your boat
- Stolen boats, especially when parked in a garage
Boating Accident Statistics
Boating Accident by Primary Contributing Factor
What does boat insurance cover?
Boat insurance is very similar to car or motorcycle insurance. The basics of a boat policy look like this:
- Bodily injury liability. Covers you for injuries and lawsuit expenses for accidents that you’re responsible for.
- Property damage liability. Covers you for property damage that you’re responsible for causing.
- Medical payments. This gives money to anyone who gets injured in your boat.
- Physical damage to your boat, engine, and trailer. If you want to cover your boat for physical damage, typically you can also choose to include coverage for an engine and boat trailer.
Additionally, many insurance companies offer specialized boating packages or coverages that could include the following:
- Uninsured/Underinsured boaters. Just like car insurance, this covers your injury expenses if the other boater is responsible but either doesn’t have any insurance or doesn’t have enough to cover your expenses.
- Fishing equipment. Sometimes fishing equipment is automatically included up to a certain limit, such as $1,000. If it’s not automatic or you want higher limits, those are available.
- Water sports liability. Some policies exclude water sports from your liability coverage, so be sure to read your policy or ask your independent agent if it’s covered under yours.
- Emergency assistance on the water. This coverage endorsement provides water towing and other assistance services through a maritime dispatch center.
- Roadside assistance for your boat and trailer. If you don’t add roadside assistance to your boat, then your regular roadside assistance will likely leave it on the road. Adding it to your boat policy will guarantee that the towing company will take your vehicle, your boat, and your trailer to the nearest facility.
- Hurricane hauling services. Some companies offer this hurricane evacuation coverage, which covers the cost of moving your watercraft out of the county it’s located in.
- Personal property coverage. Personal property is almost always covered under your homeowners policy, even when it’s not in your house. But your deductible is often higher, so you can add personal property coverage on your boat policy to avoid a homeowners claim.
- Wreckage and fuel removal. This pays for the costs to either recover or destroy wreckage and fuel if you get in an accident. Sometimes included automatically, but you’ll want to double-check your policy because this is typically an extra expense.
- Replacement cost or agreed value. Newer and expensive boats can be insured on agreed value, which means the insurance company will pay you the full amount that you paid for it, without taking into account age and depreciation.
- Pet coverage. You can even insure your pet while it’s traveling in the boat with you! This coverage provides up to $1,000 or so towards veterinarian fees if your pet gets injured on the boat. What kind of boats need to be insured?
What kind of boats need to be insured?
Ideally, all boats would be insured for at least liability coverage. No matter what type of boat you have, it could cause serious injury and property damage if it’s involved in an accident. Even if there isn’t an apparent injury to the other person, they could still file a lawsuit against you. Your liability insurance would cover the costs of the lawsuit and any settlement, up to your policy limits.
Aside from liability, deciding on whether to put physical damage coverage on your boat is ultimately up to you. Similar to putting full coverage on a car, your decision will be based on the value of your boat and how much money you’re comfortable losing in the event of a total loss.
Common boats that are insured include:
- Jet skis
- Fishing boats
- Ski and speed boats
- Utility boats
Some boats are covered under your homeowners policy, but the coverage is limited. Typically, boats are only covered for liability under a homeowners policy on:
- Inboard or inboard/outboard motor boat less than 50 horsepower.
- Outboard motor boat less than 25 horsepower.
- Sailboats smaller than 26 feet.
All other types of watercraft have no automatic liability coverage under homeowners insurance. And your homeowners’ property damage might cover your small boat, but only up to $1,000. How much does boat insurance cost?
How much does boat insurance cost?
You can expect to pay between $200 and $500 a year for boat insurance, but it could be higher than that, depending on the type and value of your boat. Similarly, if you just want liability on your old bass boat, you’ll probably just pay the minimum premium of $75 to $100 a year.
Exactly how much you pay for boat insurance depends in part on the following factors:
- Type and value of your boat
- Horsepower of the boat
- Usage of the boat
- Prior boating OR driving claims
- Your driving record
- Your age and boating experience
The benefits of bundling boat insurance
If your current home and auto insurance company can insure your boat, then it’s likely going to save you the most money to bundle your boat policy with your other policies. Almost every insurance company offers a multi-policy discount that can apply to each policy you have. This could save you hundreds of dollars each year.
Additionally, if you have one company that handles your home, auto, and boat, then this can streamline your claims process if you have a claim that affects multiple policies. For example, if a fire affects your house, boat, and cars, it will be much easier to deal with one company rather than three different ones.
Comparing boat insurance quotes
On the other hand, there’s a chance it could be cheaper for you to insure your boat with a large, national company. That’s why it can be beneficial to get multiple quotes from an independent insurance agent, especially when you make a big change, like buying a boat.
Let your independent insurance agent do the legwork and she/he will find the best solution for you and your boat.
What to watch out for with online boat insurance
While it may be tempting to buy your own boat policy online, there are many coverages that you might be missing out on. Or you might select an Actual Cash Value policy instead of an Agreed Value policy, where you wouldn’t receive as much money for your boat if you have a claim.
In addition to not choosing the right type of coverage for your situation, you’ll likely get swamped with marketing calls and emails from whichever company you get a quote from, along with their third party affiliates.
Why go with an independent insurance agent?
TrustedChoice independent insurance agents will take the time to get to know you and your insurance situation. They’ll ask the right questions and come back with multiple options from multiple insurance companies, based on both good coverage and price.
And if you have a claim, a local independent insurance agent can make all the difference between a good or bad claims experience. Your agent can likely be there on-site to walk you through the process and can go to bat for you if you run into a problem with the company.
TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Andrew Flueckiger
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