Wisconsin is a fantastic state for those who enjoy recreational boating. With more than 15,000 lakes within its borders, residents don’t have to travel far to get a boat in the water. As of 2011, there were 628,743 boats registered in the state of Wisconsin. This constitutes 5.2 percent of the nation’s privately owned watercraft. If you are one of the state's many boat owners, whether it be a house boat, fishing boat, bass boat, speed boat, canoe, or cabin cruiser, Wisconsin boat insurance is an affordable way to protect your investment and your finances.
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Boating Requirements in Wisconsin
- All boats must be registered and have a Wisconsin Certificate of Number and expiration stickers. Exceptions include:
- Sailboats less than 12 feet long that have no motor
- Manually propelled vessels with no motor or sail
- Vessels registered in another state if used in WI waters for less than 60 consecutive days
- Vessels greater than 16 feet in length require a Certificate of Title
- Children under the age of 10 may not operate a motorboat.
- Children under the age of 12 may not operate a PWC.
- Children ages 10 to 15 may operate a motorboat or PWC only if accompanied by a parent or guardian, or by an adult designated by a parent.
- Anyone born after January 1, 1989 must complete a state-approved boating safety course before operating any watercraft.
- Boating insurance is not required by law.
Though several states require boat owners to carry insurance, Wisconsin does not require coverage, except in the case of commercial fishing boats. However, vessels such as bass boats or cabin cruisers can be rather expensive, and a comprehensive Wisconsin boat insurance policy can protect your investment.
Additionally, a collision with any vessel, swimmer, or skier can easily lead to bodily injury and property damage claims against you. Boating insurance can protect you from the significant costs of a settlement, and cover your legal defense fees, up to the limits of your policy.
Top Five Types of Boating Accidents in Wisconsin
- Collision with another boat: 39 accidents
- Grounding: 11 accidents
- Falls overboard: 11 accidents
- Flooding/Swamping: 10 accidents
- Collision with a fixed object: 9 accidents
Operator inattention and inexperience are the most common causes of boating accidents in this country. A great way you can prepare yourself for difficult situations on the water is through a boater safety course. Regardless of whether or not you are required to have successfully completed one of these courses before taking your boat on the water, it is a good idea to do so.
There are several state-approved boater safety courses available. Residents may elect to take these courses online or in a classroom setting. In addition to giving you the knowledge you need to stay safe on the water, passing these courses can also save you money on your Wisconsin boat insurance policy, because it shows that you are a low-risk, conscientious boater.
Boating Accidents: How WI Compared to the Rest of the Country
- Nationwide: There were 4588 boating accidents, 686 of which were fatal.
- Wisconsin: There were 110 boating accidents, 19 of which were fatal.
- Nationwide: 1709 boating accidents resulted in property damage.
- Wisconsin: 38 boating accidents resulted in property damage.
- Nationwide: Boating accidents were responsible for $52,198,658 in damages.
- Wisconsin: Boating accidents were responsible for $870,033 in damages.
- The national boating accident fatality rate is 6.2 per 100,000 vessels.
- Wisconsin’s boating accident fatality rate is 3.5 per 100,000 vessels.
Many boat owners assume that their homeowners insurance policies will provide them all the coverage they need for their boats. Unfortunately, this coverage is usually limited to the damage your boat suffers while it is parked in your garage, or on your property. For complete coverage on the water, you will need a comprehensive Wisconsin boat insurance policy.
What Does Boat Insurance Cover?
A basic Wisconsin boat insurance policy will provide you with liability coverage for accidents resulting in property damage or injuries to others. It will also provide coverage for certain damages to your own property, including your boat and trailer, if they should be damaged while in use or while being transported to and from the water.
Depending on which insurer you choose, other coverage options may be included automatically, or may need to be purchased optionally. A boat insurance policy can cover the following:
- Collision, for damage to your vessel after an accident
- Personal property, including safety equipment, tools, and fishing equipment
- Towing and assistance, if your boat becomes disabled or needs to be serviced
- Medical expenses for you and your passengers, if someone is injured in a boating accident
- Damages caused by other boaters who may be uninsured or underinsured, which is very important in Wisconsin, since boat insurance is not required
- Damages sustained by your boat while docked or otherwise not in use
- Clean-up of fuel spills and wreckage following an accident
Get Help Finding an Ideal Wisconsin Boat Insurance Policy
Working with an independent agent in the Trusted Choice® network can simplify the policy shopping process, because you will only have to provide your information once, and your agent will then do the comparison shopping for you from a wide variety of companies, at no cost to you.
Agents are available to assist you with all your insurance-related needs, and will even advocate for you during the claims process if you need assistance. Locate an agent in your neighborhood today, to get Wisconsin boat insurance quotes tailored to your boating lifestyle.