California Boat Insurance

Experts break down boat insurance costs, coverages, companies, and more.

Boats in marina at dawn in San Diego Harbor, California. Find California boat insurance.

With its 840 miles of coastline and many beautiful lakes and rivers, California is a great place for owners of watercraft. It therefore comes as no surprise that residents of this state have registered around 700,000 boats. 

Whether you’re taking your yacht out on a Pacific cruise, using your motorboat for a day of waterskiing on Lake Tahoe, or spending a relaxing day fishing on your bass boat on the San Joaquin Delta, you can benefit from having the protection afforded by a solid boat insurance policy.

Local independent agents are available to help you find a great policy at a competitive rate. These agents are free to work with some of the best boat insurance companies in California and can provide you with a selection of customized quotes. Find an insurance agent near you to learn more.

What Is Boat Insurance and Why Is It Important?

Boat insurance is designed primarily to cover boats that have motors or sails. New boats can cost a lot of money, so for many, this coverage is well worth the investment. 

The US Coast Guard reports that California boaters are involved in an average of 375 accidents a year.

In fact, in one recent year, boating accidents in this state resulted in 311 injuries, 39 deaths, and $6.94 million worth of property damage. That’s a lot of expensive losses for uninsured boaters in the Golden state.

Does California Require You to Insure Your Boat?

In California, it is not necessary to have insurance to register your boat because this coverage is not required by law.

You may, however, need to carry coverage in order to dock your boat at certain marinas. Also, if you have financed the purchase of your boat and have not yet paid it off, your lender may require you have a policy.

Whether or not it is required, it is often a good idea to have it because it can save you a lot of money if you cause a boating accident or if your watercraft is lost or damaged.

How Much Does Boat Insurance Cost in California?

The average cost of a boat insurance policy in California is around $348 a year. At a cost of less than $1 a day, the peace of mind a good boat insurance policy can provide you with is very inexpensive.

Of course, there are several factors that go into calculating costs, so your actual quoted price may be significantly higher or lower than this average amount. Rates for coverage can be influenced by the following factors.

  • The type of boat you are insuring (e.g., speedboat, fishing boat, cabin cruiser, yacht, etc.)
  • Details about your boat including its value, age, length, and engine size
  • Where you will be keeping your boat when not in use
  • Your driving record and claims history, both on and off the water
  • Whether you and other members of your household have completed a boating safety course
  • The amount of coverage you are purchasing
  • The size of your deductible

When you bundle your boat insurance with other policies like car insurance, home insurance, or renters insurance, you can typically receive rate reductions on all of your bundled policies.

To find out how much a boat insurance policy will cost you, you can start by contacting a few insurance companies and requesting quotes. Or, if you prefer, an independent agent can do this for you.


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What Does California Boat Insurance Cover?

Boat insurance policies can sometimes vary from one provider to the next. While some types of coverage may come standard with one policy, they may be optional with another.

Most boat insurance providers in California will offer some or all of the following types of coverage.

  • Boating liability insurance: This can cover your financial responsibilities if you are at fault for a boating accident that results in third-party injuries and/or property damage. It can provide much more coverage than you would get with your home or renters insurance policy.
  • Medical payments insurance: This can cover any medical expenses that your health insurance does not in the event that you or your passengers are injured in a boating accident, regardless of fault.
  • Physical damage insurance: This can cover the cost to repair or replace your own boat if it is lost or damaged in a boating collision, regardless of fault.  
  • Comprehensive insurance: This can cover the cost to repair or replace your own boat if it is lost or damaged in a non-collision event like a wildfire or flood.
  • Equipment insurance: This can cover loss or damage to any equipment and accessories that were not installed on the watercraft by the manufacturer but were added later. This includes things like boat hoists, GPS units, marine instruments, and kicker motors.
  • Personal effects insurance: This can cover personal items like fishing gear, water skis, SCUBA gear, cameras, cellphones, and portable speakers if your property is lost, damaged, or stolen.
  • Uninsured boater insurance: This can cover your property damage and medical costs if you are in a boating accident that was caused by an uninsured or underinsured boater.
  • Towing insurance: This can cover the cost of having your boat towed back to shore if it becomes disabled while out on the water, such as if you experience engine failure or steering problems.
  • Fuel spill/wreckage cleanup insurance: This can provide you with the funds and resources necessary to remove wrecked boats and debris from the water and clean up any resultant fuel spills if you are responsible for a boating accident.

It is a good idea to review all of your policy options and their costs so that you can best decide which are a good value for you and your family.

What Is Not Covered by California Boat Insurance?

As with any type of insurance, boat insurance has some limitations. Policies can vary in their coverage exclusions, but for the most part, you can expect that your boat insurance will not cover the following.

  • Damage to your boat trailer
  • Normal wear and tear on your boat
  • Mold damage
  • Damage caused by marine life, insects, or animals
  • Faulty machinery (unless you have been given the option to include mechanical malfunction coverage to your policy)
  • Accidents that occur when a person who has not been named on your policy is operating the boat

Keep in mind that unless you have specifically purchased endorsements for boat equipment and personal effects, your policy will not cover accessories like lifeboats, anchors, and modifications.

Why Work with an Independent Insurance Agent in California?

A comprehensive boat insurance policy can save you a lot of money if you are involved in an accident while out on the water. Working with an experienced insurance professional can help you be sure you are getting all the coverage you want at a price you can afford.

There are hundreds of independent agents in the state of California who are ready to help. Contact an insurance agent near you to get more information and to start comparing customized boat insurance quotes.

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