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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

Ross h…

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Kristine Lee

Insurance Analyst

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty
  • 4+ years of Experience in the Insurance Industry

Kristine is a licensed insurance agent who joined The Zebra in 2019 as an in-house content researcher and writer. Before joining The Zebra, she was a…

What is boat insurance?

Unless your boat is actually a kayak, you have to purchase boat insurance for adequate coverage. Your homeowner's insurance will only cover your boat from $100 to $1,500 and generally for damage that occurs at your residence. Let's explore the ins and outs of boat insurance to make sure you understand what your coverage entails.


Boat insurance basics:

  1.  Is boat insurance required?
  2.  What does boat insurance cover?
  3.  Does my homeowners liability extend to my boat?
  4.  Boat insurance tips and advice
  5.  Boat insurance discounts


Do you need boat insurance?

The answer depends, in part, on what kind of boat you have. Insurance is required for some types of boats. While some homeowners insurance policies may extend to cover boats, it typically only covers a boat when it is parked at home, and the coverage usually caps out at $1,500. Basically, if your boat has an engine, you'll want to buy boat insurance.

Boat insurance also offers physical damage coverage, i.e., comprehensive and collision. A typical boat insurance policy includes coverage similar to auto insurance policies, with deductibles of $250, $500, and $1,000 (25/50/10) — but, again, this can vary by company.

See below what is typically covered — and not covered — by boat insurance policies.


What does boat insurance cover?

Not Covered
Damage caused by collision, fire, lightning, theft, and vandalism
Normal wear and tear
Damage to permanently attached equipment, like an anchor
Defective machinery or machinery damage
Bodily injury liability, i.e., injury
Damage caused by sharks or other animals
Property damage liability — damage your boat causes to other’s property
Damage from mold, insects, and zebra mussels
Guest passenger liability — legal expenses of someone driving your boat with your permission
Medical payments — for you and your passengers' expenses


Does homeowners liability extend to my boat? 

If you are in a boating accident, your homeowners liability coverage may help cover the damages you cause. Standard homeowners policies usually come with $100,000 in personal liability coverage, though this can often be increased at a minimal cost. It’s important to remember liability coverage only reimburses the other party, so you would need personal watercraft coverage if you wanted damages to your boat covered. An umbrella policy can also provide further personal liability coverage. 

Keep in mind your homeowners liability insurance is limited to boats of certain sizes. Boats must be smaller than 26 feet in length and have an engine with below 25 horsepower to be eligible. 

Insurance advice for boat owners

Insurance companies' boat policies vary widely in their coverage options, eligibility requirements, and surcharges. When shopping for boat insurance, consider the following details:

Navigational limits

If you plan on taking your vessel on longer voyages, check for any territorial limits on your boat insurance plan. If you travel outside these limits and need to file a claim, your insurance might not cover the damages. Usually, the broader your geographic limits, the higher your rate will be.

Marine inspections

Some insurance companies require your boat to be inspected prior to any contract being signed. These inspections usually aren’t free. An inspection isn’t a bad idea from a safety perspective.

Layup periods

You can store your boat during winter or hurricane seasons while paying a decreased monthly premium. During this time, you shouldn’t use your boat in open water as you risk not being covered.


Boat insurance discounts

Multi-line boat insurance discount

If you own a home or a car, consider finding an insurance company that will cover all of your belongings with one policy in order to get a multi-line discount.

Diesel power discount

Because diesel-powered watercraft are less likely to explode than those fueled by gasoline, they're considered less risky. Some insurance companies offer a discount for diesel boats.

Safety course discount

Taking a safety course offered by the Coast Guard or American Red Cross can also earn you a discount. Consult your insurance company for details, as the amount of the discount may vary.

Safety device discount

Onboard ship-to-shore radios and Coast Guard-approved fire extinguishers can lead to discounts. These devices are good to have anyway — a discount is simply an added bonus.




Other people are also asking...

Can I insure a boat with someone else's name on the title

You shouldn't have a problem doing that. Since the boat is still registered in your father-in-law's name, you might need to have him listed as an "additional interest" in the policy documentation. What this would mean, if the boat was damaged and you were to receive a payout, yo…
May 31, 2018 Savannah, GA

About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance editorial content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.