Few activities offer such a sense of freedom, self-reliance, and accomplishment as guiding a sailboat across crystal blue waves. Maybe you are a long-time sailboat owner and you are wondering whether you can find better rates or lower costs on your sailboat insurance. Maybe you just spent the weekend at a boat show window shopping for schooners and wonder what your boat insurance costs might be. Either way, a local independent insurance agent can help.
Sailboat Safety Statistics
- Sailboats have a better safety track record than powered watercrafts.
- In 2011, there were 10 deaths of sailboat operators/passengers, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
- Sailboats accounted for 27 total non-fatal injuries that same year, compared to 1,610 non-fatal injuries on open motorboats.
Is Sailing Insurance Required?
For most watercrafts, there is no state or federal law that mandates boat insurance. However, sailboats are an exception. Many people are surprised to discover that, unlike other types of boats, sailboats must be insured to operate on U.S. waters. Therefore, if you have just purchased or are planning to buy a sailboat, be prepared to have at least some coverage before you take it out on the water.
If you plan to finance your sailboat purchase through a bank or credit union, your lender will almost certainly require you to insure the craft against catastrophic damage. Moreover, many marinas and storage spaces require that boat owners insure their crafts before docking there. Getting coverage in place to protect your sailing dinghy will provide both protection and peace of mind.
What Kind of Sailboat Insurance Do You Need?
Choosing a sailboat policy can be challenging because every boat owner has different requirements. The options available to you will differ from one insurance company to another. Therefore, it is important to compare policies and ensure that your coverage matches your needs. An independent agent can compare premium rates and coverage from several different insurance companies so that you can see the best options on the market today.
If you're curious about whether or not your homeowners insurance will cover your boat, look carefully at your home policy first. Typically, homeowners policies will only offer coverage for a limited scope of incidents. You may have low coverage amounts for your boat under your homeowners insurance, or you may only have coverage for times when your boat is parked at your residence. Either way, it is advisable to speak with your insurance agent, and consider purchasing a sailboat insurance package to adequately cover your risks.
In order to protect your sailboat and your finances, your insurance could include some or all of the following:
- Bodily injury liability insurance: Bodily injury liability protects you in the event that you injure another person, whether that person is on another boat or a dock, or is a passenger on your sailboat. Due to the costs of medical care and potential legal fees, this is an important insurance option to consider.
- Property damage liability insurance: Property damage liability insurance covers you in case you damage another boat, a dock or other property belonging to someone else. If you plan to dock your sailing vessel, or if you plan to operate in busy areas where you risk hitting another watercraft, property damage liability coverage can provide important protection.
- Comprehensive coverage: If your boat is stolen, vandalized or damaged in a fire or severe storm, comprehensive insurance can help you cover your costs. Comprehensive coverage can also protect your personal items if they are stolen from the sailboat or lost while you’re out on the water.
- Towing and emergency assistance: Similar to roadside assistance for your car, this type of coverage can help if your sailboat is disabled for any reason out on the water. Depending on the insurance company you choose, you may also have the option to buy on-land towing coverage as well.
How to Find Sailboat Insurance
As a sailboat owner, you need to find the right coverage for your particular vessel, whether you own a mid-sized sloop or a 72-foot catamaran. You also want to ensure that you are in compliance with the local laws and regulations of your state.
Risks and concerns can vary widely depending upon the type of craft and how and where you sail. For example:
- If you boat exclusively on a private local lake and never need to tow the craft, you may need a minimal amount of coverage to protect your vessel against storm damage and theft.
- If you take passengers on tours for pay, whether as a sole proprietor, or as a part of a larger business, it is a good idea to take a close look at your liability coverage and ensure that you are adequately insured for potential injuries and property damage claims. You may also need commercial insurance coverage.
- If your sailing vessel is a high-value boat, such as a yacht or megayacht, you will need a specialized insurance policy that adequately protects your investment.
In the end, it's a good idea to make sure that your insurance coverage can match your usage and your risks on the water.
An online search for sailboat insurance is a great way to efficiently collect quotes and preliminary data about the insurance coverage and costs in your area.
Take Home Message for Smooth Sailing
No matter what type of craft you own, your sailboat faces a number of hazards while out on the water, while you are towing it to and from the waterway, and even while it is moored or stored for the off-season.
It's important to get some help assessing your risks, and get insurance that's going to protect you financially in the event of an accident. Whether you choose to look for insurance online, call around to several insurance companies, or work with an independent agent, just make sure you're getting the right coverage at a competitive price. Comparing quotes is an excellent way to do this - just make sure you're making apples-to-apples comparisons.