Owning a houseboat combines the freedom of the water with the comforts of home. Maintaining and protecting your houseboat with the right insurance policy is key to ensuring years of relaxation and happiness.
Having an independent insurance agent in your corner is one of the best things you can do to make sure you get the best policy for your houseboat. With an independent insurance agent, you can compare the fine print in easy-to-understand terms and ultimately make an informed choice for your finances and your family.
Why Do I Need House Boat Insurance?
Houseboats are a valuable asset for those who enjoy living on the water with the comforts of home. Considering houseboats can vary significantly in cost and design, having appropriate insurance coverage is necessary to safely operate on waterways and protect against catastrophic damage, like lawsuits. And what's more, if you're financing your houseboat, the lender may require proof of insurance for you to operate it out of storage.
In truth, having houseboat insurance isn’t mandatory or required by law in most states. But not having houseboat insurance can limit your options for travel and mooring. Most marinas require houseboats to be properly insured to park at their locations, similar to HOA requirements for homeowners
Houseboats do present some significant danger and risks to owners and those who live aboard them. According to the the U.S. Coast Guard’s most recent statistics, there were more than 600 boating fatalities in the U.S. last year. Property damage totaled about $46 million. Even though motorboats were responsible for more than 50% of accidents, being close to dangerous boaters is reason enough to have adequate safety measures and insurance policies in effect to meet your needs. Therefore, consulting an independent insurance agent will give you more insight into your insurance needs.
What Does Houseboat Insurance Cover?
Houseboat insurance is a package policy that incorporates a variety of coverages to protect your houseboat, your family, and your finances. Standard coverage benefits include:
- Physical damage
- Liability coverage
- Personal effects coverage
- Repair cost
- Other coverage
Insures your houseboat against damage and loss caused by common risks. This includes situations like sinking, theft/vandalism, fire, storms, and collision. Each insurer covers different aspects of your houseboat, but the policy will typically cover the houseboat’s hull and other components, like:
- Onboard safety equipment, such as flotation devices and fire extinguishers
- Fuel tanks
- Boat trailer
- Bilge pump
- Stereo system
- Boat cover
- Kitchen appliances
- Life preservers
- And more
Liability coverage provides protection against lawsuits, including the payment of settlements and legal fees. This coverage applies if your houseboat causes injury to others or damage to other boats or structures. Bear in mind that the injury or damage to a third party can be due to direct contact with your houseboat or situations caused by your vessel, like large wakes.
Personal Effects Coverage
Coverage for important accessories you keep on your houseboat, including clothing, jewelry, furniture, clothes and other personal property. While many insurers offer coverage for many items, be aware that you may have to add scheduled policy riders to cover items of high value.
This coverage pays what it costs to return your boat to its pre-accident condition or better without depreciation.
Each insurer is different, so be sure to ask about various types of coverage that may or may not apply to your houseboat, including:
- Medical payments coverage
- Uninsured boater coverage
- Roadside assistance
- Fuel spill liability
- Towing coverage
- Fishing equipment coverage
- Wreckage removal coverage
- Living expenses insurance
Be sure to talk with an independent insurance agent and make sure you're getting the coverage you need to protect your houseboat. Independent insurance agents are able to provide clear estimates of coverage, clarify the fine print, and ultimately pair you with a policy that will protect your houseboat and other assets for years to come.
Which Factors Affect My Houseboat Insurance Premium?
Current Condition of the Houseboat
When you’re selecting from among various insurers and getting quotes for houseboat insurance, you’ll notice that coverage isn’t a one-size-fits-all policy like regular homeowners insurance or automobile insurance. Instead, insurers take into account a holistic picture of your houseboat when determining premiums, including:
- The condition of your houseboat
- Amenities and extras
- And more
Marine Surveys for Houseboats
For houseboats that are more than ten years old, your insurer will first conduct a “marine survey” to determine insurance premiums and the overall risk to insure the houseboat. A marine survey will assess the houseboat in terms of its current value, seaworthiness, required repairs, and overall condition.
Marine surveys can be expensive, since the cost of the survey depends on the size and value of the houseboat. For each foot of the houseboat’s length, the cost of a marine survey can vary from $10 to $30. Or a surveyor may charge a flat rate. Either way, you can expect to pay an average of $500 for a marine survey.
Despite this expense, marine surveys are important documentation if you later decide to sell or finance your houseboat, assigning a realistic value to your houseboat that can attract buyers and convince lenders to fund your houseboat.
One of the most weighted factors that determine the cost of houseboat insurance is how it is intended to be used. For those who only intend to use the houseboat sporadically and with minimal travel, premiums tend to be lowest. The more individuals that live on the boat, the higher the premiums will be.
The waterway where your houseboat is located and operates from is an important factor for determining premiums. Busy waterways present more risks with more traffic, while those who have their houseboats in hurricane-prone regions also face higher risks.
Also, if you’re intending to rent out the houseboat on Airbnb, VBRO, or other home-sharing services, you may need to purchase additional coverage for renters and policies with increased liability to accommodate desks. It’s also important to note that Airbnb has Host Protection Insurance, but many types of watercraft may be excluded according to their policies.
What Questions Should I Ask about the Policy?
If you’re actively searching for houseboat insurance, an independent insurance agent can help you find the right policy for your needs. That being said, it’s a very good idea to get clear answers to common questions about houseboat insurance policies and what options you have at your disposal. Ask an independent insurance agent the following questions to get an idea of the coverages, limitations, and more of your houseboat policy:
- How often will I need to have a marine survey conducted on my houseboat?
- What are the limits of coverage for this policy?
- What are the notable exceptions to this policy?
- Do I qualify for any discounts?
- Are there any safety programs/classes I can complete to reduce premiums, such as the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Red Cross, and more?
- How can I lower my premiums?
- What are the deductibles on the policy?
- How much is an insurance policy that covers living on the houseboat full-time vs. using it recreationally?
- What are the navigational limits for my houseboat insurance?
How to Find the Best Coverage for Your Houseboat
Insurance can be complex, and searching through options can be confusing, time-consuming, and frustrating. An independent insurance agent's role is to simplify the process.
When it comes time to purchase insurance or add extra coverage, they’ll break down all the jargon and explain the nitty-gritty so you understand exactly what you're getting.
And should you need to file a claim, you’re not alone. Your agent will be right there to help guide you through every last step and get your life back to where it all was. How great is that?
Why Online Quotes Aren’t Always the Best Way to Shop
Getting your insurance quotes online can be tempting. Sure, it’s fast and easy, but are the quotes you are getting actually accurate? And are you getting quotes for all the different types of coverage your houseboat needs?
Online quotes cannot give you the whole picture. They often omit important coverage, which may result in you being unable to get compensation if something disastrous happens. And they can leave out cost-saving opportunities such as discounts and bundling opportunities that an independent agent can help you take advantage of.
Instead of getting an online quote, find an independent insurance agent near you, and schedule a one-on-one consultation to discuss your options for the best coverage for your houseboat.
The Benefits of an Independent Insurance Agent
Independent insurance agents have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best coverage, accessibility and competitive pricing while working for you. Find an independent insurance agent in your community here.
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