A boat is a big investment, which is why you need the right insurance to keep your vessel protected. No matter how big your boat is, it’s important to consider insurance protection to cover physical damage, bodily injury, liability in an accident and a range of other issues that can arise at sea. Unlike many auto or homeowners insurance policies, boat insurance isn’t one-size-fits-all. Reading the fine print and understanding your coverage and limitations is a must when choosing the right policy.
Do You Need Boat Insurance?
Many boat owners are under the impression that a boat is covered under a homeowners policy, but this is seldom true. Just as you don’t expect your home insurance to cover your car, you shouldn’t expect it to cover your boat. Some home insurance policies do cover a boat as part of your personal property, but that coverage usually isn’t extensive.
Most home policies have restrictions based on the size and horsepower of your boat, and your coverage may max out at $1,000 or 10% of the insured value of your home. While your homeowners policy may cover your watercraft in the event of a loss, home insurance often doesn’t cover liability claims, which happen when others are injured or damaged as a result of your boat. Unless you own a canoe or a boat with a very small engine, you want to stay protected with additional boat insurance coverage.
What Does Boat Insurance Cover?
Just like car insurance covers your car and protects you on the road, boat insurance covers your boat while it’s on the water instead of just in your driveway. The following chart is helpful in determining what boat insurance might — or might not — cover.
|What You Can Expect Boat Insurance to Cover||What Boat Insurance Normally Doesn’t Cover|
|Destruction or damage from fire, theft, lightning, vandalism or a collision||Damage from animals like sharks|
|Damage to permanently attached equipment||Damage from insects, mold or mussels|
|Bodily injury liability||Defective machinery|
|Guest passenger liability||Regular wear and tear|
|Property damage liability|
While boat insurance varies from provider to provider, all should provide the same standard coverage, which includes:
- Liability Coverage – Liability coverage pays for damage or injuries that your boat may inflict on another person or to other property. You shouldn’t go without liability insurance, no matter how old your boat is. In fact, many marinas require boats to hold third-party liability coverage of at least $300,000, because accidents don’t just happen while you’re driving. If a storm blows your boat around while it’s docked and the boat damages the marina or other boats, you need to be sure you have coverage for this very expensive mishap.
- Hull Insurance – Also referred to as boat insurance, this covers damage to your boat, including repairs or cash compensation for the agreed value of your boat.
While you can count on most boat insurance policies to cover you in the above scenarios, additional coverage can vary greatly among policies. Some policies offer certain benefits, such as no-cost towing if you get stuck, while others might charge extra for this service. Keep in mind some of the following restrictions or stipulations while searching for insurance:
- Navigational Limitations – Some policies don’t cover you if you drive out of a certain geographical range. If you frequently cruise to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean, make sure your policy covers you in these waters.
- Age Limitations – It might be common for you to let your underage child pilot the boat from time to time, but if your child is involved in an accident and he or she doesn’t meet the age or licensing requirements for the state you’re in, your insurance likely doesn’t cover the damage. Each state has different age requirements, so read up on the rules beforehand and check to see what your policy states about young drivers.
- Layup Period – If the area where you live doesn’t experience warm boating weather year-round, chances are you take your boat out of the water for a certain portion of the year, known as a layup period. Your insurance might give you a break on your premium for this downtime, but read the fine print on your policy carefully — if you take the boat out for a spin before the layup period ends, your insurance might not cover you.
Aside from the standard coverage, see if there’s an arbitration clause in the Claim Settlement section of the policy. If you get into a disagreement with your insurer about a coverage or claim, this clause lets you bring in a third party to help resolve the issue, a perk that can save a lot of headache in the long run.
Where Can I Get Boat Insurance?
If you’re looking for boat insurance, you may want to start with your auto or home insurance provider. Many of the big companies also provide boat coverage, and you might find yourself receiving discounts and cost breaks if you bundle multiple policies. Don’t automatically assume that the same company that handles your home insurance can handle your boat insurance though; it’s essential to go with an underwriter that’s well-versed in marine insurance. Even if your auto or home insurer offers boat coverage, the policy might not be adequate for your needs. You want to make sure that you get full, comprehensive coverage from an insurer experienced in the marine world before signing on with a plan. Aside from checking with your home insurance provider, search through ratings and reviews online, and ask others who own boats for their recommendations. Some of the most helpful feedback you can get is from other people who also utilize boat coverage.
How Much Is Boat Insurance?
The cost of boat insurance varies among providers, but you can expect the amount of coverage you want and the value of your boat to play a big role in your final price tag. Where you live and store your boat might also influence your overall cost. For example, many insurers charge more if you live in a hurricane-prone state such as Florida or South Carolina. Boat insurance costs are also lower if you have a layup period of several months. Many insurers offer a variety of discount incentives if you take a boating safety course or invest in onboard safety features. Even with these reductions, keep in mind that you might get what you pay for; the cheapest plan usually doesn’t provide adequate coverage for your boat.
Comparing Boat Insurance Companies
It is important to do your shopping when you’re looking at boat insurance companies. While almost all boat insurance offers standard liability, comprehensive and collision coverage, policies vary greatly in regards to rates, coverage limits, add-on features, available discounts and more. Some coverage plans are only available as add-ons to a homeowners or life insurance policy, while other insurers offer stand-alone coverage. Most importantly, make sure there’s a distinction in the policy between “agreed value” and “actual cash value.” If your $80,000 boat sinks, you want to be sure that you receive at least that much from the insurer to replace the boat.
When comparing boat insurance companies, make sure you read the fine print. Prices may vary greatly, but so do coverage levels. Be careful in your considerations and your comparisons so you get the boat insurance quote for the coverage you actually need.
To make it easy, start your search for boat insurance with some of the following auto insurance providers. If you find adequate coverage, you may get a discount from holding multiple policies.
Progressive boasts more than 35 years of boat insurance experience with over 1 million watercraft insured. With Progressive boat insurance, your coverage extends to the United States and Canada and up to 75 miles off the coasts. While it does cover a range of boat types, Progressive boat insurance doesn’t cover anything over 50 feet in length or with a value of more than $350,000.
Geico boat insurance comes with several coverage options, including personal watercraft insurance and premium towing service. Discounts are available if you pass a boat safety course or have a good driving record.
AAA boat insurance is available for vessels up to 33 feet long. The coverage reimburses you up to $500 if you’re stranded and need a tow back to shore. Discounts up to 20% off are available if you also carry homeowners or life insurance through AAA.
AllState boat insurance may be a good option if you already have a homeowners policy from this provider because the company offers a 20% discount just for combining home and boat insurance. With a selection of other discounts available, it’s one of the more affordable options, and many customers feel at ease with AllState’s size and stability. Plus, the company offers a variety of coverage options to give you the flexibility to choose a plan that fits your boating style.
USAA provides boat coverage with a 5% discount to its members. Insurance coverage options are available for boats, Jet Skis, marine equipment and transport trailers. In addition to the USAA member discount, you can get additional savings if you’re claims-free, pass a boat safety course or insure multiple watercrafts.
Amica offers two coverage options for boat owners: boat policies for vessels fewer than 24 feet long that don’t have sleeping or cooking provisions, and yacht policies for larger vessels. Coverage applies whether your boat or yacht is afloat or in storage, and each policy covers waterway towing to the nearest port if your boat becomes disabled.
Auto-Owners Insurance offers standard boat coverage to those customers who already have a homeowners or life insurance policy.
Country Financial’s homeowners policies automatically offer up to $1,500 coverage for a watercraft. If your boat is worth more than that, you can purchase add-on coverage to bundle with your home policy.
Erie’s boat insurance comes with a host of included extras, including up to $500 to repair or replace boating equipment and accessories, up to $500 for damaged personal property, up to $500 to replace or recharge a fire extinguisher, up to $250 for emergency towing and up to $1,000 coverage of non-owned property.
Farmers provides seven different package options to cover a variety of watercraft, from Jet Skis to pontoons to yachts. Additional coverage options are available if you want to travel to Mexico or the Bahamas.
Hanover offers boat insurance on watercrafts up to 26 feet, on sailboats up to 40 feet and 200 horsepower and on personal watercraft. This insurance is available as an endorsement to a Hanover homeowners policy. Coverage for larger boats is available through the relationship Hanover has with American Modern Insurance Company.
If you’re an AARP customer, you can receive boat coverage through The Hartford. Coverage options include total loss replacement, personal effects coverage, emergency assistance and towing, trailer coverage, accessory coverage and agreed value or market hull coverage.
Boat and watercraft coverage from Liberty Mutual is only available if you also have a Liberty Mutual homeowners policy. The add-on coverage covers your boat, its motor and its trailer both on land and in the water.
In addition to basic coverage, MetLife offers additional features such as hurricane protection, which gives you $250 to haul your boat to a protected area when the National Weather Service issues a hurricane advisory, and $250 for unforeseen emergency services coverage, which pays for towing, labor, a battery or fuel delivery. MetLife’s boat insurance isn’t available in all states.
Nationwide’s boat insurance is available for recreational boats worth up to $350,000. The company also offers personal watercraft insurance for coverage on Jet Skis. Discounts for both types of insurance are available if you take an approved water safety course or carry multiple Nationwide policies.
State Farm offers standard boat coverage to protect your boat, its motor and its trailer. The company also offers additional coverage, including that for newly acquired watercraft, which covers damage to a new boat caused by a loss. State Farm policies provide reasonable repairs coverage and up to $500 for emergency services to your boat or boat trailer.
Travelers offers coverage for boats, yachts and antique and classic runabouts. Policies can include coverage for gas delivery and towing assistance if your boat becomes stranded. Travelers is also the first provider in the industry to offer a discount for insuring hybrid boats or yachts.