Boat Insurance Claims

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Reviewer: Jeffrey Green Reviewed by Jeffrey Green
Reviewer: Jeffrey Green
Reviewed by Jeffrey Green

Jeff Green has held a variety of sales and management roles at life insurance companies, Wall street firms, and distribution organizations over his 40-year career.  He was previously Finra 7,24,66 registered and held life insurance licenses in multiple states. He is a graduate of Stony Brook University.


Filing boat insurance claims may not be the top priority when you buy a fishing boat, sailing boat, or speed boat. Most likely you are thinking about the enjoyment of the water, fun with friends and family, and maybe catching some fish. 

No matter if your boat spends more time on the water, at the dock, or in a storage facility, it is at risk of damage, theft, and other accidents. Knowing how to file a claim when the unexpected happens can give you peace of mind.

The first step is to find a knowledgeable independent agent who can provide advice and answers to all of your boat insurance questions and concerns. Member agents in our network are available to help you get the information you need and to help the claims process go smoothly.


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Top Five Boat Insurance Claims

  • Hitting an underwater object
  • Boat theft while anchored
  • Collision with another boat
  • Storm damage
  • Sinking

When Should You File a Boat Insurance Claim?

If you are at fault in a boat accident, the other party involved will file the claim against your boat liability policy. Under any other circumstances, whether you should file a boat insurance claim depends on your boat insurance coverage

For example, if you have a liability-only policy and your boat is damaged in a storm, your claim will likely be denied because you do not carry comprehensive insurance.

Assuming that you have a package of coverage including boat liability insurance, medical payments coverage, collision, and comprehensive coverage, you should file a claim under any of the following circumstances:

  1. Some event causes property damage to your boat. For example:
    • You hit a rocky outcrop in shallow water, causing damage to the boat’s hull
    • A storm damages or destroys your boat, or causes it to sink
  2. Your boat is vandalized
  3. Your boat is stolen
  4. One of your passengers is injured
  5. Your engine fails

When a Claim May Be Denied

Whether you have your claim denied or processed can depend on whether you have coverage in place for that claim or whether there is a specific exclusion for the incident in question. Every insurance policy has exclusions. Here are a few examples:

  1. Minor paint damage, scratches, and dents are typically not covered. Normal wear and tear is also not usually covered.
  2. Your property damage coverage will typically cover most damage to your boat after a collision, including damage to items used for operating or maintaining the boat. Personal items lost, damaged, or destroyed, such as jewelry and electronics, however, are not usually covered.
  3. Damage from barnacles, marine life, and pests such as insects are rarely covered.
  4. Unless you have a specific policy addressing it, damage to your engine from mistakenly forgetting to put oil in it will most likely not be covered.
  5. Manufacturing defects are typically not covered, as these would fall under your boat’s warranty.

Claims can also be denied if they are believed to be fraudulent. Therefore, it is important to collect accurate information and document the incident any time an accident or damage occurs while you're boating, or if something happens that causes harm to you or one of your passengers.


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What to Do after a Boating Accident

If you are involved in a collision on the water, or another boater causes damage to your property, to you, or your passengers, there are certain steps you will need to take to file a boat insurance claim. 

The first step after an accident, of course, is to handle any injuries and contact the authorities if you feel there is any reason to file a police report.

Once you have addressed any immediate problems, be sure to take the following measures in order to prepare for the claims process:

  • As quickly as possible, document the incident and any damage to your boat. Take pictures, write notes about anything you may forget, and calmly tell the police what happened.
  • If there is a police report, be sure to get a copy of the report to provide to your insurance agent.

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Independent agents in our network are based in over 27,000 member locations nationwide. These agents can provide you with boat insurance quotes and answer any questions you may have. Find a member agent today and get the help you need.

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Boat Us magazine/2018/august/top-10-marine-insurance-claims