A Guide to Boat Insurance Claims


Whether you’ve been a boat owner for 5 years or 20 years, accidents happen. A comprehensive boat insurance policy can protect you against the significant financial liabilities arising from a loss. Typically, you can file a claim in the event of a fire, theft, collision or other covered loss for damage to your watercraft.

Here’s a quick synopsis of what to do when filing a boat insurance claim:

  • Report it to your insurance company as soon as possible. The insured is responsible for reporting and filing a claim after the incident occurs. You can call an adjuster directly or submit the report online. It is important to outline the details so that the adjuster can get understand what happened and quickly work to resolve the claim.
  • File a government report, if necessary. Certain claims may require a government report depending on the events that took place. For example, if a theft occurred, it is necessary to report it to your local Police Department. Another entity to consider is the United States Coast Guard.
  • Document all the damage that took place. Take pictures of the damage to your boat and send them to your adjuster. This will provide a literal picture of the damage sustained, and along with your other claim documentation, allow for quicker resolution of the claim.
  • Don’t repair anything immediately. Confirm that your insurer has all the necessary information to properly file the claim before repairing your boat. However, if a repair is time-sensitive, do not hesitate to get it fixed and prevent further damage.
  • Pick a repair professional. Be sure to find a marine-focused professional that can fix the damage correctly and at a fair price. If you need a, ask your adjuster if they are familiar with any repair facilities in your area.

Remember to always prepare for the unexpected. While some accidents are completely unavoidable, there are some measures you can take to avoid certain ones.  We want to help our customers avoid a claim at all costs. Here are some of the most common claims we’ve seen.

  • Collision With a Submerged Object 

Collision with an underwater object generally occurs when the boater is unfamiliar with the area or when there is murky water or floating debris. Regardless of why it occurs, this type of accident can be especially unexpected and devasting to a boater.

A GPS or underwater radar can help decrease the chances of striking a submerged object. This type of device will keep you informed as to what is below the boat. Regularly monitoring the GPS can help avoid this type of accident. Additionally, monitor the tidal stream for things in front of the boat, like buoys and markers. This can indicate if there is something beneath the water.

  • Collision With Another Vessel

This next one is one of the more common claims we see. A collision usually occurs when the operator of a watercraft misses something while driving and does not react quickly enough before colliding with another vessel. Typically, jet skis and motorboats are more susceptible to this due to their speed.

The best way to avoid this type of claim is by staying 100% present while operating the watercraft. Take note of your surroundings and react accordingly. Sometimes a collision is completely out of your control, but this will help to reduce the overall risk.

  • Theft of the Watercraft 

Unfortunately, boat thefts are another common claim. Jet skis are a frequent target, especially during the peak of summer. They are smaller in size and many people leave them in their driveways, making them an easier theft target.   

Luckily, there are a few precautions you can take to avoid a theft. The most effective is to install an anti-theft device. Advanced tracking systems that can detect motion through sensors. Top brands include Spot Trace, Gost Global, and Siren Marine

  • Theft of Equipment

Theft of gear and equipment aboard the boat is another risk to guard against. Outboard motors are a common target. Such thefts also occur commonly during the summer months when watercrafts are more likely kept outdoors.

An anti-theft device can help protect against this type of theft as well. You can also maintain an up-to-date inventory of the boat’s contents and report that to your insurance company. Try marking your belongings with some form of personal identification as well.

  • Sinking 

This one might seem like a worst-case scenario, but it can happen. This type of loss can be ery costly and may amount to a total loss. Adverse weather conditions, excessive corrosion, and slipping the moorings can all lead to a sinking. 

  • Storm Damage  

Storm damage doesn’t solely apply to hurricanes or other named storms. Even a strong gust of wind can damage your watercraft. Any sort of adverse weather conditions, whether a hurricane, tropical storm, strong winds, or heavy rain can lead to a claim. It’s always worth double checking the weather, wind speed, surf height, tidal range, and tide times before heading out on the water. 

  • Fire 

Boat fires are not as common as some other claim types, but that’s not to say they never occur. A boat fire can be a devasting loss with a heavy price tag. It is often caused by an electrical mishap. Current fire alarms are highly sophisticated devices that can easily detect a fire. In addition, you should keep a fire extinguisher(s) on board as a safety precuation. Check your engine for fluid leaks and make sure all electrical connections are tight and free of corrosion. 

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