A pontoon boat is perfect on a slow-moving river or an inland lake. Pontoons are essentially motorized rafts that can hold 12 or more people at a time. Sometimes, more people mean more liability when it comes to boats.
In 2019, The US Coast Guard reported over 4,100 accidents involving recreational boats like pontoons, in which 613 people died and 2,559 were injured. Additionally, $55 million in property damage was reported in that year.
Insurance is a wise investment to protect you from financial hardship. How much pontoon boat insurance you need depends on your state regulations, the size of the boat, and other factors.
It’s vitally important to have liability insurance when you use your boat, especially when you have passengers. If you have an expensive boat, you may want to cover it for collision or severe weather damage as well.
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Pontoon Boat Risk Statistics
Finding the right insurance for your pontoon boat can be challenging. Think about some of the risks you might face on the water, both to the structure of your boat and to your passengers or other boaters. Here are some statistics for you to ponder:
- In 2019, there were 40 deaths and 153 casualties on pontoons.
- Pontoons accounted for about 6% of all boating accidents in 2019.
- Alcohol was the number 1 cause of all boating accidents in 2019.
A sunny afternoon on the water with your friends and family is something to cherish. Those peaceful afternoons together can be tarnished when accidents happen, so protecting yourself, your boat, and those who share the water with you is paramount.
An insurance policy that covers your needs and risks will help you relax and enjoy time on your pontoon.
What Is Pontoon Boat insurance and What Does It Cover?
Pontoon boat insurance is a specialized type of boat insurance that takes into account the size, value and usage of the pontoon to determine rates and coverage. The coverage is very similar to most other boat insurance you’ll find. These policies typically include several types of protection, such as:
- Liability coverage, if you are at fault in an accident with another vessel
- Medical expenses coverage to pay for injuries to you or your passengers
- Comprehensive coverage that covers damage to the pontoon from a cause other than a collision, such as weather, fire, theft or vandalism
- Collision coverage to pay for damage to the pontoon in an accident with another watercraft
- Additional optional coverage such as:
- Insurance for damage or loss of personal effects/fishing equipment
- Wreckage removal and spillage clean-up
- On-water and on-road breakdown service and towing
- Emergency service
How Much Pontoon Boat Insurance Do I Need?
While pontoons aren’t in many accidents in general, pontoon wrecks can result in significant property damage and injuries because of their size, weight and the number of passengers on the pontoon. If a few of your passengers got hurt and had to be treated at a hospital, what might those costs amount to?
Could you cover the bills if you were liable for their injuries? What if a passenger sued you for personal injuries and damages? If your pontoon was damaged, how much could it cost to repair, and do you have that much money available to you?
Some typical coverage limits for pontoon insurance are listed below. Your coverage could model these numbers, or could have higher limits or less coverage, depending on your particular needs:
- $100,000 to $1 million in bodily injury and property damage liability coverage
- $1,000 in medical payments coverage to cover hospitalization or treatment for you or one of your passengers
- Collision/comprehensive coverage in the event your boat is destroyed. Typically available in one of three forms:
- Actual cash value coverage: Pays the current market value of the boat at the time of loss
- Agreed value coverage: Pays the amount that you and your insurance company agree is the current value, which may take into account upgrades and other factors
- Total loss replacement coverage: Pays for the replacement of your boat with another like model, typically only available for newer boats
- $50,000 to $500,000 of uninsured/underinsured boater coverage to pay your expenses if you are in an accident caused by a boater who does not have sufficient insurance to pay your damage and injury costs
- $500 to $2,500 of towing coverage
- $500 of emergency service coverage
The amount of coverage you need depends on the value of your pontoon, whether you store it at home or in a marina, and how often the boat is in storage, among other things.
How, when and where you use your boat can affect the risks your boat is exposed to. Be sure to work with a knowledgeable insurance professional to determine your specific needs.
Is Pontoon Insurance Required?
If you finance the purchase of a pontoon boat, your lender is likely to require you to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage. Most states do not require insurance on pontoons, but some may require some level of liability coverage when the pontoon is on the water.
Be sure to learn about the laws in your state.
Are There Discounts for Pontoon Insurance?
The most common way to get a pontoon boat discount is by combining your coverage with your auto and/or homeowners insurance. You can also qualify for discounts if you:
- Have a claims-free insurance record
- Have a clean driving record
- Have experience with a pontoon boat
- Have taken a boater safety training course
Find Affordable Pontoon Boat Coverage for Your Needs
Pontoon insurance is specialized, and premiums vary from state to state and from one insurance company to another. Additionally, your premiums will depend on the value of your boat, how much insurance you decide to buy, and the deductibles you choose.
In general, however, a pontoon boat can be insured relatively cheaply because of its low risk of accidents. Because premiums vary widely, it is a good idea to get several quotes from reputable companies.
Click on this independent agent matching system to find the best insurance plan in your area. Describe what you’re looking for, and the technology will recommend the best agents for your needs. Any information you provide will be sent only to the agents you pick.
TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Jeffrey Green
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USCG Recreational boating statistics 2019