There are as many as 105,499 boats registered in Connecticut, many of them without boat insurance. Boating is a fun and relaxing pastime for residents of this state, but boating is not without its risks. A boating accident can prove quite costly if you are not properly insured. Whether you prefer quiet time on the Bantam River in your fishing boat, towing water skiers on Candlewood Lake with your motorboat or cruising Stonington Harbor in your yacht, you may want to consider reviewing boat insurance quotes before you take your vessel back out on the water.
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Connecticut Boating Accident Statistics
- In 2011, there were 42 boating accidents reported in Connecticut.
- These accidents resulted in 8 fatalities and 27 injuries.
- Twenty of these boating accidents resulted in significant property damage.
- Total damage from these 42 boating accidents came to $633,132.
- That is an average of $15,075 in damage per boating accident.
- Connecticut’s boating accident fatality rate is 7.6 deaths per 100,000 registered boats, whereas the national rate is 6.2.
Boating is a fun and relaxing pastime for residents of Connecticut, but it is not without its risks. A boating accident can prove quite costly if you are not properly insured.
Why Should Connecticut Residents Purchase Boat Insurance?
A new boat can be expensive. If you finance the purchase, your lender is likely to require you to carry insurance for the duration of your loan. Once you own the boat outright, however, insurance coverage is optional. Many Connecticut residents feel that, because the state does not require boat insurance, it is not very important, so they try to save some money by forgoing coverage. But if they are in an accident, they could find themselves owing thousands of dollars.
If you are responsible for an accident while out on the water, you could be liable for bodily injuries or property damage to others. Further, if your vessel sustains damage in the accident, you may find yourself facing very costly repairs. Your homeowners insurance might provide some compensation, but this coverage is usually quite limited and you would still be likely to suffer a financial setback. A comprehensive boat insurance policy can help you safeguard your finances and the investment you have made in your boat.
Connecticut Boating Laws and Regulations
- The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles, Marine Vessel Section handles boat registrations.
- You must have a Connecticut Certificate of Number and validation decals on your vessel to legally operate your boat on public waters. These are exceptions:
- Non-motorized vessels
- Sailboats that are fewer than 19.5 feet in length
- Boats registered in other states if used for fewer than 60 days in CT waters
- Vessels that have a decal indicating they are documented with the U.S. Coast Guard
- You must notify the Connecticut DMV within 15 days of any of the following:
- You have a change of address.
- Your Certificate of Number or registration decal are lost or damaged.
- Your boat is lost, stolen or abandoned.
- You transfer ownership of your boat to another person.
- You must have a Safe Boating Certificate to legally operate any motorized vessel or any sailboat greater than 19.5 feet in length.
- An adult with a Safe Boating Certificate must accompany children under the age of 12 in order for those children to operate a boat. The children must also have Safe Boating Certificates.
- It is illegal to operate your vessel at excessive speeds or speeds greater than the posted limits.
- It is illegal to allow passengers to sit or stand on the bow or gunwale of any open-bow vessel or any closed-bow vessel that does not have handrails.
- All vessels must be equipped with a least one personal floatation device (PFD) per passenger.
- Children under 13 must wear their PFD at all times while on board.
- Inflatable PFDs are not legal for persons under the age of 16.
- All vessel engines must be equipped with a muffling device.
- You must use navigation lights between dusk and dawn and during foggy or rainy conditions.
- You must not operate a boat while intoxicated.
What Does Boat Insurance Cover?
A basic Connecticut boat insurance policy provides you with liability coverage. This protects your finances if you are responsible for a boating accident that results in property damage or injuries to a third party. This coverage includes any related court costs and legal fees you may accrue in your defense.
Depending on which insurance provider you select, your basic boat insurance policy may automatically include other coverage options. Otherwise, you will have to purchase them separately as a rider to your policy. These options include the following:
- Collision insurance: This provides coverage for damage to your vessel if you are involved in a boating accident for which you are at fault.
- Medical expenses insurance: This provides coverage for necessary medical treatment for you and your passengers if you receive injuries in a boating incident for which you are at fault.
- Comprehensive insurance: This covers damage sustained by your boat while it is in dock or not in use. Covered events include fire, storm damage, vandalism and theft.
- Uninsured/Underinsured boaters insurance: If a third party causes an accident, this covers property damage and medical expenses that exceed the limits of that person’s coverage or means.
- Personal property insurance: If you keep a lot of expensive property on your boat, you may want to purchase this coverage. It covers your safety equipment, fishing equipment and tools if a covered event results in their theft or damage.
- Towing and assistance insurance: This covers any accrued costs if your boat becomes disabled or needs servicing while in the water.
- Fuel spill and wreckage removal insurance: If you cause a boating accident, you are likely to be responsible for clean-up expenses. These can be quite costly. This insurance option covers these costs.
- Roadside assistance: This covers the cost of specialized towing if you must have your boat towed due to a problem while transporting it to and from the water.
Connecticut's Top Five Boating Accident Types
- Grounding: 14 accidents
- Collision with another vessel: 6 accidents
- Falls overboard: 6 accidents
- Capsizing: 4 accidents
- Collision with a submerged object: 3 accidents
Is Boat Insurance Expensive in Connecticut?
The cost of a boat insurance policy can vary significantly from one person to the next. The quotes you get will depend on a number of factors including, but not limited to, the following:
- The type of boat you are insuring: Smaller, less expensive boats will cost less to insure than large expensive ones. A bass boat, for example, will cost less to insure than will a cabin cruiser or yacht.
- How frequently you use your boat: Most Connecticut residents only use their boats for a few months out of the year. This can reduce costs significantly.
- The amount of liability coverage you purchase: If you are responsible for serious injuries to another, your liability expenses can be very high. If your boat insurance policy maximums seem too low, you may want to consider supplementing them with an umbrella insurance policy.
- The amount of your deductible: Higher deductibles result in lower premiums. You should be sure that your deductible amounts are low enough so that you can reasonably handle them.
- Your driving record: Good drivers are statistically less likely to be responsible for boating collisions, so they will pay lower boat insurance premiums.
- Your credit score: While it might not seem to be closely related, statistically speaking, if your credit score is low, the chances that you'll file a boat insurance claim are higher than that of a person with a high credit score.
You may be able to lower your costs if you qualify for discounts on your policy. Many insurance companies offer discounts for several reasons, including being a homeowner, being associated with certain organizations and renewing a claims-free policy. Be sure to ask about discounts when requesting boat insurance quotes.
Where to Find a Policy
Comparison-shopping is necessary in order to ensure that you are getting your policy at a competitive rate. If you work with an independent agent in the Trusted Choice® network, your agent can do the comparison-shopping for you.
Trusted Choice agents have offices in several locations in Connecticut and are available to answer any questions you may have about boat insurance coverage. Talk with an independent agent near you to get more information and to get your boat insurance quotes.