Who’s Responsible If Renters Break the Boat at My Vacation Home?

Find out whose insurance would help pay to repair or replace your boat.
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for TrustedChoice.com by authoring consumable, understandable content.

paul martin Reviewed by Paul Martin
paul martin
Reviewed by Paul Martin

Paul Martin is the Director of Education and Development for Myron Steves, one of the largest, most respected insurance wholesalers in the southern U.S.

Renters broke my boat

When you rent out your home to the public, you need to be aware of all the potential risks to each piece of your personal property, and plan for each one in advance. So what happens if you rent out your vacation home and one of the renters damages or breaks your boat while staying there? Who’s responsible for this mess, anyway?

Luckily an independent insurance agent can not only answer these questions for you, but also help you get set up with the proper coverage. Independent insurance agents are experienced in handling all kinds of incidents, so they know exactly what kind of protection you need, and they’ll get you set up with it long before you ever need to file a claim. Here’s how they’d help you get coverage against renters damaging the boat at your vacation home.

Who’s Responsible If Renters Break the Boat at My Vacation Home?

While it was the renter who actually damaged or broke the boat at your vacation home, you’d still more than likely go through your personal insurance policy to repair or replace it. To protect your boat and be able to recover from any damage to it or caused by it, you’d want to have a personal watercraft insurance policy. Your independent insurance agent can help you get set up with all the coverage you need for your boat and other special vehicles.

How Would Property Coverage Help Me?

Personal watercraft policies include coverage for property damage. Watercraft insurance provides protection for physical property damage to both your boat and others’ boats if you’re at fault for an incident. If renters damaged your boat while staying at your vacation home, the property damage coverage section would pay for its repairs or cover the replacement value if it was detroyed, often minus the cost of depreciation.

Watercraft insurance operates very similarly to auto insurance. After an accident, your insurance company would reimburse you for any necessary repairs. If your boat hit another person’s boat and you were at fault, your policy would also reimburse for damage to the other watercraft. Make sure to work with your independent insurance agent to get your boat covered against all unforeseen incidents.

How Would Liability Insurance Help If the Renter Got Injured?

If the renter who destroyed or damaged your boat also injured themselves or someone else, you could end up getting sued as the boat’s owner. Regardless of whether you’d actually be found liable in court, you’d still need the protection offered by the liability coverage section of your personal watercraft policy.

Watercraft insurance’s liability coverage reimburses boat owners for:

  • Medical payments: Covers injuries to a third party, including medical bills like hospitals and doctor visits if someone gets injured by your boat or while operating it.
  • Legal fees: Covers attorney, court, and other legal fees, including any settlements you’re ordered to pay if you’re found responsible for the claim.

Ending up with a lawsuit after a renter’s stay in your vacation home would be stressful enough in the first place, but at least a personal watercraft policy would provide you with the necessary liability coverage to legally protect you.

What’s Not Covered by Watercraft Insurance?

Watercraft insurance provides lots of important protection for boat owners, but of course even these policies come with exclusions. The following incidents are not covered under watercraft insurance:

  • Non-owned watercraft: Injuries or damage caused to or by a rented watercraft are not covered by a watercraft policy. However, endorsements for this coverage can be added onto your insurance.
  • Intentional injury: If you or another driver harmed someone else with your boat on purpose, your insurance won’t cover you.
  • Using your watercraft for business purposes: Similar to other types of insurance, watercraft policies come with exclusions for business use of your boat, such as deliveries.

Your independent insurance agent can help your boat get covered against any catastrophes you might be concerned about, beyond the typical coverage provided by watercraft policies.


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What If I Don’t Have Insurance?

Without a watercraft insurance policy, if your boat got broken or damaged by a renter, you might be left to cover the damage out of your own pocket. Your homeowners insurance or other vacation home policy would not cover the repair or replacement of your boat. If your boat is particularly valuable, you’ll want to make sure it’s equipped with all the coverage it needs before you ever take it out on the water, let alone allow anyone else to use it.

What If the Renter Damaged My Vacation Home with the Boat?

To protect your vacation home, you’d need to rely on the insurance policy in place to protect the physical structure itself. If you’re officially in business as a vacation home host, you’d go through the property damage section of your landlord insurance to pay for the repairs. If you rent out your vacation home through Airbnb, the insurance you purchased through the company should cover damage to your physical property by renters.

Do My Renters Also Need Insurance?

Not anything beyond what they already have. Renters are protected while staying at a vacation home by their homeowners or condo insurance the same way they would be if they were staying at a hotel. Homeowners and condo insurance protects renters from causing damage to the vacation home, and also protects their personal property during their stay. However, the renters’ coverage is likely to be more limited than it would be in their own homes.

Other Risks Worth Considering Coverage for to Protect Your Vacation Home

Aside from negligent boat joyrides, renting out your vacation home to the public comes with a laundry list of risks, and you need to anticipate all of them ahead of time. Before ever advertising a vacancy to the public, you’ll want to get set up with coverage against each of the most common hazards for vacation home hosts.

Common risks of renting out your home include:

  • Theft: Dishonest tenants might steal from your property or business, whether it’s inventory or money.
  • Business expenses: Turning your vacation home into a rental requires lots of extra work, and capital. Once your vacation home becomes a rental property, it needs to be stocked regularly with toiletries and more.
  • Property damage: If you end up with disrespectful or just plain negligent tenants, your property’s structure or furnishings may get damaged or destroyed, like with your own boat, for example.
  • Failure to get tenants: One less obvious risk is the inability to get tenants to rent out your property at all, which could lead to a serious loss of investments.

Your independent insurance agent can work with you to address these areas of concern and much more before you officially open your vacation home’s doors to the public.

Here’s How an Independent Insurance Agent Would Help

When it comes to protecting your boat and vacation home against negligent renters and all other costly incidents, no one’s better equipped to help than an independent insurance agent. These agents search through multiple carriers to find providers who specialize in watercraft and landlord insurance, deliver quotes from a number of different sources, and help you walk through them all to find the best blend of coverage and cost.

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