Whether you’re planning to set sail on the open seas or drop anchor and relax in place, your houseboat is at risk of many common and unexpected hazards. Houseboat owners are up against the elements of nature, vandalism, and more. That’s why finding the right houseboat insurance for your unique needs is crucial.
An independent insurance agent can help you get set up with houseboat insurance. They'll make sure you walk away with all the coverage you need to protect your property. But first, here’s a breakdown of this important coverage.
What Is Houseboat Insurance?
Regardless of the style of your houseboat or where it’s docked, houseboat insurance is essentially an agreement between the homeowner and an insurance company in which the insurer agrees to cover financial losses relating to damage and liabilities. The insurance company will only cover the specific perils stated in the policy. Houseboat insurance helps protect homeowners from losing their houseboat following a disaster.
Houseboat insurance packages are a combination of watercraft or yacht insurance and mobile home insurance. While your houseboat is obviously a boat first and foremost, it also needs extra elements of protection added for its home aspect. This includes coverage for personal property like extra furniture and clothing that wouldn’t otherwise be stored on a watercraft.
Houseboat insurance blends coverages together to give you an all-encompassing package of the coverages you need. Working with an independent insurance agent is the best way to ensure you walk away with a policy that meets all your unique lifestyle needs.
The Case for House Boat Insurance
When you walk through a marina, you may see a variety of houseboats moored there. Newer models can be as long as 150 feet and cost well over $1 million. Other varieties of houseboats differ in value. Insurance for a houseboat is unique to the boat and the owner, so your independent insurance agent can give you more insight into your insurance needs.
You will certainly need liability coverage for your houseboat. Liability coverage provides financial protection in case you're at fault for bodily injury or property damage while using your boat. But it may also be wise to buy coverage that will protect your investment in your houseboat if someone else is at fault for your property damage and does not have sufficient insurance to pay your costs.
Why Do I Need Houseboat Insurance?
While many states don’t require you by law to purchase insurance for your personal watercraft or even your home if you own it outright, you’ll likely still want to have coverage. You’ll want protection for the watercraft itself, as well as the personal property you store inside it.
Suppose a bad storm, such as a hurricane, totally destroyed your houseboat. Without sufficient coverage, you’d be stuck paying out of pocket to replace not only the watercraft but everything you had stored inside. With a houseboat insurance policy, your insurance company can help reimburse for damage caused by covered perils. Basically, it’s the best way to ensure you won’t have to lose your belongings and your savings.
What Does Houseboat Insurance Cover?
Houseboat insurance packages combine watercraft/yacht policies with mobile home policies into a unique hybrid designed to give you all the coverage you need. So if the coverages included in your houseboat insurance policy look a lot like a blending of two different types of insurance, that’s because they are.
Houseboat insurance may include the following coverages:
- Liability coverage: This coverage protects the houseboat owner from third-party claims for property damage or bodily injury that occur on their property. Coverage reimburses for court and legal fees.
- Contents coverage: This aspect of a houseboat insurance policy offers protection for your personal belongings like furniture, clothing, tools, boating supplies, etc., from common perils like fire and theft.
- Towing coverage: This coverage takes care of the financial side when your boat becomes immobile and needs to be towed.
- Uninsured/underinsured boater coverage: This coverage protects you if you’re involved in an accident with another boater who lacks any or sufficient insurance coverage to reimburse you for damage.
- Property coverage: This coverage protects the watercraft and its physical structure from common perils like fire, certain natural disasters, theft/vandalism, and more.
- Medical expenses: This coverage takes care of doctor/hospital fees and/or funeral expenses if you or your passengers get injured or killed.
- Pollution coverage: This coverage protects you if you’re held accountable for pollution, such as if your houseboat leaks fuel into the sea.
- Wreckage coverage: This coverage protects you from the ultimate disaster, an accident that results in your houseboat sinking. It takes care of fees for recovering and towing the watercraft and the destruction/disposal of a totaled watercraft.
An independent insurance agent can help you get set up with all the coverage you need in every category of houseboat insurance.
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Houseboat Insurance Coverage Types
Houseboat insurance policies usually provide two types of coverage:
- Actual cash value (ACV): ACV policies take into account the depreciated value of the houseboat when a claim is made. The depreciation is deducted from the total value before your claim is paid out by the insurance company.
- Agreed amount value (AAV): AAV policies predetermine the value of the houseboat, including the hull and all other attached equipment and hardware. You must ensure that you appropriately document all parts of the houseboat with their corresponding values. If you make a claim, the insurer will pay the total agreed amount value for the damaged part of your boat.
Because houseboats face the same risks as any other vessels on the water, insurers treat them as boats, not houses. Some insurers might not provide insurance coverage if you live solely on your houseboat. Be sure to verify that you have adequate coverage for your houseboat before listing it as your primary residence.
What Are the Benefits of Houseboat Insurance?
Unless you inherited your houseboat from a family member, it likely wasn’t cheap. When you’ve worked hard to afford a home you love, it deserves protection. Having sufficient coverage for your houseboat can prevent you from facing financial ruin following a particularly costly disaster.
Houseboat insurance provides the following benefits for owners:
- Protection for the watercraft itself
- Protection for your personal belongings
- Protection for you, your family members, and your guests
- Protection against theft and vandalism
- Protection against explosions
- Protection against fire/smoke damage
- Protection against excessive water damage
- Protection against damage by aircraft or other watercraft
- Protection against riots
- Protection against falling objects
- Protection against certain natural disasters (i.e., windstorms and hail, lightning, and blizzards)
Your independent insurance agent can help you review your houseboat insurance policy to answer any remaining questions about your coverage. They’ll also be able to help you figure out whether you’ve got enough coverage, or if you should purchase more.
What Questions Should I Ask about My Policy?
When shopping for a houseboat insurance policy, it’s wise to go in with a list of questions to help you find the right coverage for your needs. You may want to ask your independent insurance agent the following questions while hunting for coverage:
- What (if any) navigation limits are dictated in the policy?
- Does the policy include coverage for layup periods and/or winter docking?
- Do I need to undergo a marine survey before being approved for coverage?
- How much is the policy’s deductible? Is it a dollar amount or a percentage?
- How high are the coverage limits in every category?
Your independent insurance agent can work with you to find not only the right coverage for your needs but also a policy at an affordable rate. Together, the two of you can determine which policy is right for you while considering factors like the deductible amount and coverage limits. If you have any other concerns about your unique houseboat that aren’t included on this list, feel free to bring them up as well.
What Is a Marine Survey?
Houseboat insurance may come with an extra cost. If your boat is more than ten years old, the insurer will conduct a survey first. The cost of the survey will depend on the value and the size of the boat.
For each foot of the houseboat’s length, the cost of a marine survey will range from $10 to $30. Thus, the survey fee for a 30-year-old houseboat valued at $50,000 will be approximately $750. This survey will assess your houseboat in several ways, and state:
- Its current value
- Its condition
- Its seaworthiness
If you decide to sell, insure, or finance your houseboat, the survey can be very important. The findings of the survey will help assign a value to your houseboat, making it considerably easier to find a buyer or lender.
How Much Does Houseboat Insurance Cost?
It’s difficult to offer an exact figure without knowing the specs of your particular houseboat, but houseboat insurance policies may cost in the mid to high hundreds or over $1,000 annually. The more risks involved in your unique houseboat, the higher the cost of your premium is likely to be.
The cost of your houseboat insurance depends on a number of factors, including:
- How often you use your houseboat: The more you use it, the more your premium is likely to cost.
- Your personal driving record: Your driving record on land often correlates to your driving record on water.
- Your boat insurance claims history: As with all other types of insurance, your provider wants to see little to no claims history.
- If your houseboat has any safety features installed: The more you’ve got, the more of a break you’re likely to get on your premium.
- The horsepower of your houseboat: The faster it is, the more of a risk it is to the insurance company, and therefore the higher your premium is likely to be.
- The size and specs of your houseboat: Just as with car insurance, your houseboat’s particular make and model will influence the cost of your premium.
- Your age and gender: These factors influence the cost of your premium, just as with car insurance.
- Locations where your houseboat will be docked and driven: Certain areas of the country come with an increased risk of natural disasters. If you use your houseboat in an area prone to hurricanes, such as along the Atlantic coast, you’ll probably have a higher premium.
- Your credit score: As with auto insurance, a credit score has been found to correlate with driving behavior. The worse your credit score is, the higher your premium is likely to be.
An independent insurance agent can help find multiple quotes for you with close-to-exact figures.
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Things to Know about Your Houseboat Insurance
When searching for houseboat insurance, gather some information on the coverage provided. This could help you find out your rights as an insured customer. It will also help you understand the limitations of your policy. Things to pay particularly close attention to are:
- The frequency with which your insurer will conduct marine surveys
- The navigational limits under which your houseboat will be covered
- The discounts provided by your insurer if you live on your houseboat only for some months in the year
- The deductible(s) on your policy
- The scope of coverage to handle the additional liabilities arising from living in the houseboat
- The coverage provided for dinghies or personal watercraft, if applicable
- The discounts that are applicable if you complete courses offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Power Squadron, Red Cross, or other safety training organizations
An insurance policy that provides you all with the coverage you need for your houseboat is critical for your safety and the safety of your property.
Which Carriers Offer Houseboat Insurance?
Since houseboat insurance is a unique type of homeowners coverage, it may be more challenging to find. Fortunately, an independent insurance agent can do all the hard work for you by shopping multiple carriers to find the best coverage for you. However, there are a handful of houseboat insurance providers that can help start off your search:
- American Family Insurance
- Global Marine Insurance
- United Marine Underwriters
- OnGuard Insurance
- RV America Insurance
An independent insurance agent will help you find a houseboat insurance policy from a reputable insurance company. All you have to do is call.
The Benefits of Working with an Independent Insurance Agent
Independent insurance agents have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best houseboat coverage, accessibility, and competitive pricing while working for you. They'll shop and compare policies for you, and present you with only the best coverage options for your houseboat. An independent insurance agent will help match you with a houseboat insurance policy that offers the best blend of coverage and cost from a local carrier.
TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Jeffrey Green
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