Boat Insurance

Jodee Redmond
Boat

Boat insurance is a necessity to protect all types of marine vessels. The types of losses covered by a boat policy are similar to those that a car owner must have in place to protect against physical damage and claims made by people injured in an accident.

Basics of Boat Insurance

Fortunately, there are many companies that offer boat insurance, like Geico, Progressive, and Allstate. Coverage varies based on the size and speed of your boat, but you should look for a policy that offers the type of protection you need.

Physical Damage Protection

Given the nature of boating and the craft's vulnerability to storm damage, physical damage coverage is a must for every boat owner. This policy generally repairs the boat in the event of:

  • Storms
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Fire

It does not, however, cover the items on the boat, so if your fishing equipment gets knocked over by a wave, you have to pay out-of-pocket to replace it.

Your physical damage policy should cover all the equipment on the boat, including the motor, sails, and hull. Check your policy carefully to make sure it also protects your boat whether it's in use, docked, or being transported.

Liability Protection

This insurance protects you financially if your boat is at fault for damaging another vessel. Liability protection should cover the necessary repairs to the other property and also cover medical costs associated with anyone who was hurt on the other vehicle. You will also be protected against any legal fees you incur while defending yourself regarding the accident.

Medical Payments

Medical payment coverage protects you and the passengers on your boat in the event of an accident, regardless of the cause. The coverage varies by insurance company, but the policies often cover passengers who are water skiing with your boat or who are swimming from it. In some cases, the medical payment insurance only kicks in where the individual's health insurance stops, so read your policy carefully for full details.

Other Coverage Options

Depending on your individual needs, you can get additional boat insurance for things like emergency services, personal affects, and passenger liability if you often let someone else use your boat. These extras will add on to your insurance premiums but they may be worth it compared to the cost of replacing a laptop that gets dropped overboard or needing a tow in the middle of the night.

Damage to your boat may be covered under your homeowner's insurance in certain circumstances. This usually only takes care of damage that occurs while the boat is parked at your house. For example, if a tree falls on it during a storm, your homeowner's policy may take care of part of the damage. Even then, the policy probably only covers about $1,000 of damage, which may not go very far on an expensive boat. You can often add extra coverage to your homeowner's policy, but it is still probably not enough to replace the boat or cover injuries that may occur while it is in use.

Boat Insurance Discounts

Just as you would shop around and look for discounts on car insurance rates, you should tackle boat insurance the same way. It may be hard to compare policies side-by-side when you consider your deductibles and limits on medical payments, so rack up the discounts to make sure you are getting a good deal. All companies offer them; you just have to know what to ask for. Possible watercraft insurance discounts include:

  • Safety education: Completing an education course from the United States Coast Guard or the United States Power Squadron can earn up to a 20 percent discount on your boat insurance rates. In some states, these classes are required as part of getting a boating license.
  • Safety features: Adding a burglar alarm and a ship-to-shore radio are not only good ideas; many companies will discount your insurance for having them on board.
  • Crafts with diesel engines: Insurance companies smile on diesel powered boats because they are safer to operate than their gas-powered counterparts, which are more likely to explode.
  • Sticking with your agent: Insurance companies love it when they have repeat customers, so getting your boat insurance from the same place you get your car insurance could be a great idea that may line your pockets with savings.

Determine Your Coverage

To get the best protection for your boat, start by determining how much coverage you need and what type of protection you feel you should have in place. Having a clear idea of your insurance needs will help you successfully navigate through your coverage options to find the right boat policy for you and your budget.

Boat Insurance