Boat Insurance Claims - SkiSafes Complete Guide


If you've ever been in an accident, you might have made a claim on your boat insurance. While you’re not required to file a claim, it’s still important to tell your insurer about it anyway (even if it was something minor). 

With boat insurance claims, there aren’t one-size-fits-all ‘rules’ for how they work. This can make the process confusing and maybe even a little bit complex. So, we’ve sifted through the fine print to explain the timelines, processes, and intricacies of it all. 

How to Handle a Claim

If you're in an accident, there are certain things you should do at the scene to ensure your claim is processed smoothly and efficiently.

  • If it's a bad accident or something was stolen, call emergency services or the police. For theft claims, get the case number from the authorities as well. 
  • Exchange details with any other operator and any 3rd parties who witnessed the accident. Get the operator’s name, contact information, boat registration number, and insurance policy number, if possible.
  • Take pictures of the damage at the scene. The more evidence you have, the better.
  • Write down exactly where the accident took place, when it occurred, and what happened. This will help you remember relevant details when reporting the accident to your insurer. 
  • Contact your insurer to report the claim as soon as possible. Once you've filed your claim, your insurer will gather the information required to quickly resolve the claim.
  • Choose a marine repair professional. You can usually have it fixed at your preferred repair shop.

How Long It Takes to Get a Payout

A claim that is covered may be paid as quickly as a matter of hours or days if the required information and documentation is promptly submitted.  If there are open questions regarding coverage or delays in obtaining documentation then it may take longer. 

How Long Does an Accident Record Stay on Insurance?

You can expect an accident to affect the cost of insurance for three to five years. 

Loss-Free Discount  

Most insurers will reward you for operating watercraft carefully with a no-claims discount. The more years you remain claim-free, the bigger the discount you can get on your boat insurance. When you file a claim, you’ll lose the discount and have to build it up again.

How You’ll Be Paid 

In the event of a covered loss, different policies have different approaches to determine how you’ll be compensated. 

There are three main types to consider:

  1. Agreed Value
  2. Actual Cash Value
  3. Replacement Cost

Agreed Value 

If the boat is considered to be a total loss, Agreed Value policies will pay the amount stated in the policy. This coverage helps you repair or replace damaged property without any adjustment. However, some items that are subject to higher amounts of normal wear and tear (e.g., sails, trailers, and some machinery) may be subject depreciation in the event of a covered partial loss.

Actual Cash Value 

An Actual Cash Value policy provides coverage up to the current market value of the vessel in the event of a total loss, taking into account depreciation and the condition of the boat at the time of the loss. It typically delivers less coverage than an Agreed Value policy and costs less as a result. 

Replacement Cost 

Replacement Cost coverage agrees to replace your boat with a brand new boat of a similar make and model, subject to policy terms and conditions. This is typically only an option for newer boats. As the boat reaches a certain age, Replacement Cost may no longer be an option and the policy could change to Agreed Value or Actual Cash Value.

» MORE: Boat Insurance Replacement Cost Versus Actual Cash Value

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