Just like your home or car, owning a boat is a huge accomplishment both financially and personally. Regardless if you have a party yacht or a personal fishing boat, you want to make sure all of your bases are covered when it comes to insurance. And, like any kind of insurance, boat insurance can get complicated. Let’s go through the ins and outs to make sure you and your boat are covered.
When to get boat insurance
First things first, do you actually need boat insurance? Well, that depends on the type of boat you have. While some homeowners insurance extends to some types of boats, it really only covers your boat when it is parked at your home and typically caps at out at $3,000. If you have a boat with an engine, you’re going to want to buy specific boat insurance.
Like most other property and casualty insurance we have covered already, boat liability insurance covers damage your boat causes to others and is typically separated into Bodily Injury and Property Damage portions. Typically, most companies offer limits that begin at $15,000 and end at $300,000 - however this can vary per insurance company and state.
Boat insurance also offers physical damage coverage, i.e. comprehensive and collision. An average boat policy includes much of the same coverage available on auto insurance policies with deductibles of $250, $500, and $1,000 - but, again, this can fluctuate by insurance company.
- Damage or destruction from collision, fire, lightning, theft, and vandalism
- Damage to a boat and permanently attached equipment, like an anchor
- Bodily injury liability, for injuries to people while on the boat
- Property damage liability, which pays for damage your boat causes to other people’s property
- Guest passenger liability, which pas for legal expenses of someone driving your boat with your permission
- Medical payments, which pays for expenses for you and your passengers
- Normal wear and tear
- Defective machinery or machinery damage
- Damage from sharks or other creatures
- Damage from mold, insects, and zebra mussels
There is a considerable amount of difference between insurance companies regarding what they will cover, what they require, and what may constitute an extra charge. So, when shopping around for insurance for you boat, you should consider the following tidbits.
If you plan on taking our boat on some longer trips, consider if your insurance plan has territory limits on where you can venture. If you travel outside the limits and have a claim, your insurance might not cover you. Usually, the broader the limits you have the higher your rate will be.
Some insurance companies require your boat to be inspected prior to any contract being signed - which typically aren’t free. Still, an inspection probably isn’t a bad idea from a safety perspective.
Like auto and motorcycle insurance, you can store your boat during winter or hurricane seasons for a decreased premium. During this time, you shouldn’t use your boat in open water as you risk not being covered.
Because all the financial responsibilities of owning a boat can add up, we put together some broad ideas for discounts.
If you own a home and a car, you should consider finding an insurance company that will cover all your investments under one policy in order to get a multi-line discount.
Because diesel powered crafts are considered less hazardous than gasoline ones and thus less likely to explode, some insurance companies offer a discount for them.
Taking a safety course offered by the Coast Guard or American Red Cross can also get your a discount. Consult with your insurance company for details, as the amount and existence of the discount varies.
Having things like ship-to-shore radios and Coast Guard approved fire extinguishers can give you a discount. Given their importance, these devices are good to have anyway and a discount is simply an added bonus.