Do I Need Boat Insurance In the Winter?


We understand that it may be tempting to cancel your boat insurance policy during the off-season - however, your boat or PWC/jet ski is still vulnerable to things like damage, theft, liability incidents, and other expenses even when stored for the winter. Canceling the policy will only put your boat, finances, and ability to reinstate the existing policy at risk. 

Maintaining comprehensive coverage throughout the year will help to protect you against out-of-pocket expenses for damages that may arise. Plus, SkiSafe offers a considerable discount for boats that are laid up for a minimum number of months. 

Learn more about winter boat insurance and why it’s important to keep intact. 

Winter Boat Insurance and Why It’s Important 

You may think that boat insurance is only needed for the boating season, but certain risks are present even when a boat is not being used. 

We do not recommend canceling or reducing watercraft insurance coverage during the winter. Here’s why:

1. Risk of Theft or Vandalism 

Your boat is exposed to various risks, including theft, vandalism, storm damage and more, even when secured and stored. No matter where you live or where you store the boat, these risks remain even when the boat is not in use. 

Removing or reducing coverages leaves the vessel and your finances vulnerable to such perils. For example, if you cancel your boat insurance policy and the boat is stolen, you will have to pay entirely out-of-pocket to replace it. 

2. Risk of Damage 

Many people incorrectly assume that a boat cannot be damaged when it’s not being used. Unfortunately, this is not the case. While you may be exempt from the risk of collision on the water, there are still plenty of other ways a boat can sustain damage. 

In addition to theft and vandalism, the vessel is also vulnerable to fire and flooding in the winter months. There is no off-season for natural disasters; one can strike at any moment. You will want to make sure that your boat maintains extensive coverage if such a scenario were to occur. For example, if there is a fire or storm, the boat storage facility could be destroyed and the same goes for your property.

» MORE: Winter Boat Tips and Insurance Coverage

3. Lapses in coverage are more expensive long-term  

You may also incur penalties for canceling coverage before the policy term has ended. In addition, insurance companies may offer more favorable terms on a boat that is already insured rather than one that has been without insurance. 

4. Homeowner’s insurance will not cover your boat 

Many people believe that their homeowners policy will cover their boat during the winter. However, homeowners insurance rarely provides coverage for powered vessels - such as pleasure boats, sailboats, motor yachts and center consoles. They typically only extend coverage to small recreational crafts that do not have a motor, like kayaks and canoes. 

You cannot rely on homeowners insurance to cover your watercraft. A boat insurance policy, on the other hand, can provide sufficient coverage for things like liability, collision, flood damage, and much more. 

» MORE: Comprehensive Boat Insurance Coverage - What It Is and How to Get It

5. Lenders typically require year-round coverage 

If you are financing the purchase of your boat, the lender will require you to hold active insurance throughout the year. This includes the wintertime while the boat is laid-up. Lenders are protecting their investment and you should too.  

Similarly, if you keep the vessel at a marina or in a storage facility, they often require boat insurance year-round as well. 

SkiSafe Boat Insurance Lay-Up Discount 

Lay-up is a term used to describe the period when the vessel is not being used. For boats located in colder climates - like the Northeast or Midwest - boats are normally laid up during the winter months when it’s too cold to take the boat out.  

SkiSafe offers a discount for boats that are laid up during such an off-season . The vessel will remain fully covered during this period - subject to general terms and conditions. These conditions will insist that the vessel is not navigated during the lay-up period, not used to live aboard, and must be properly winterized (not ready for immediate use).  

» MORE: Winter Layup Boat Insurance Discounts

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