Boating Basics: What To Know About Insuring Your Watercraft

Posted by Broome Associates on July 12, 2016

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It is hot and it is humid; the only place you want to be is on the water. It is that time of year when boats come out in full swing, and well, accidents happen. If an accident were to happen to you, would you be covered? Here are a few things to know about boat insurance.

Boat insurance protects you in the event of a loss or damage to your boat. It covers most watercraft with motors, including fishing boats, pontoon boats, pebble boats, leisure crafts, and yachts. Boat insurance does not usually cover canoes or kayaks. (For smaller watercraft, you may find some limited coverage under your homeowners policy.)

What exactly does boat insurance cover?

  1. Collision Damage includes repair or replacement of your boat, but may or may not include clean-up of wreckage unless you purchase optional additional coverage.
  2. Property Damage Liability covers damage you might cause to someone else’s boat, a dock, or other property or structures.
  3. Bodily Injury Liability covers injury you might cause someone while you are using your boat; includes medical bills, lost income, pain & suffering, and legal expenses.
  4. Comprehensive provides compensation if your boat is vandalized, stolen, or damaged in an incident other than collision.
  5. Additional Coverage Options include coverage for medical payments, fishing equipment, oil spills, personal property, and roadside assistance, as well as damages and injuries from accidents caused by boaters who are uninsured or underinsured.

The amount of compensation you receive for a claim depends on a few things, including your deductibles, limits, and whether your boater’s insurance covers your boat at actual cash value, replacement cost, or agreed upon value.

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How does boat insurance work?

  • If you were at fault, your boat liability insurance would cover the damage up to the limits on your policy.
  • If the other boater was at fault, his coverage would pay for your damages, up to the limits of his policy.
  • If you have coverage in place and the other boater was at fault, he did not have boat insurance, or he did not have enough to cover your expenses, uninsured/underinsured boaters coverage could cover the damages.

Do I Need Boat Insurance?

Boaters often want to know whether they have to carry boat insurance to enjoy the water. The answer is that boat insurance can be required for a variety of reasons. For example, some states require that you have liability coverage. Marinas may require you to have boat insurance in order to dock your boat there. Additionally, if you take out a loan to buy a boat, the lender will most likely require that you purchase boaters insurance.

How Much Insurance Do I Need?

The amount of boat insurance you need depends on a number of factors, including the boat’s value, motor size, age, and how you plan to use it. For example, if you have a brand new, high-performance speed boat, you will need more coverage for bodily injury and property damage liability than if you buy a pleasure cruiser.

For uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage, a typical minimum is $10,000. The amount you purchase, however, should reflect the potential injuries and damages you may need to cover if you or one of your passengers is seriously hurt or if your vessel is damaged.

Your other coverage amounts, including collision coverage and comprehensive coverage, should be based specifically on the value of your boat.

As with any vehicle, accidents can happen. When you are on the water, you want to relax. Boat insurance is a great way to have peace of mind while you are out enjoying the water. Are you covered?

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