The Basics of Boat Insurance


If you have a boat, there’s nothing quite like being on the water with the warm sun and cool breeze during the summertime. Those memories are among the many that you will want to hold forever. 

That’s why it’s important to protect your boat with the right boat insurance coverage

While purchasing boat insurance may not be required in your state, it should still be a top priority. A policy that protects you and your guests from the many perils boaters face will give peace of mind while enjoying a beautiful summer day afloat. 

Learn more about the basics of boat insurance and how proper coverage can protect you.  

The Basics of Boat Insurance Coverage 

A boat insurance policy is not required in most states. However, if you cause an accident or someone is injured on your property, you may be liable for the resulting damages and expenses. 

This is where your boat insurance policy enters the equation. It can help protect you from expenses like the ones mentioned above. Plus, most marinas and lienholders will require minimum amounts of insurance. 

??» MORE: Liability-Only Boat Insurance Coverage

While liability insurance provides vital protection, you may want to consider increasing coverage beyond a liability-only policy. 

Comprehensive Boat Insurance Coverage - Explained 

A comprehensive boat insurance policy will help protect against several risks that your boat and personal property face. An “all-risk” boat insurance policy, for instance, will include coverage for your boat and property. 

As the name suggests, an “all-risk” policy is designed to protect you against all the risks that a boater faces (unless specifically excluded from the policy). 

It is much more extensive than a named perils policy. Named-peril coverage will only cover the perils that are explicitly listed in the policy. An “all-risk” policy, on the other hand, provides coverage against all perils except those explicitly excluded.

For example, with a named peril policy that specifies coverage caused by fire or vandalism, damage caused by anything else would not be a covered claim. If your boat experiences damage due to a collision, for instance, this would not be covered 

Common Types of Boat Insurance Coverage - Explained 

Boat insurance coverage works similarly to other types of insurance, like car insurance and homeowner’s insurance. There are various coverage types to help with different situations. 

Coverage for Hull Damage

This protects the watercraft’s structure. This usually includes coverage for accidental, physical damage arising from fire, theft, collision, storms, trailering, and more. 

Personal Property and Equipment Coverage

You can choose to extend coverage to personal property/equipment on the boat, including water skis, wakeboards, fishing equipment, and more. 

This type of coverage can protect against accidental loss or damage. For example, if those items are stolen or damaged during a covered incident, the cost to replace or repair those items may be paid by the insurer. 

??» MORE: Personal Property and Equipment Coverage - Explained

Bodily Injury Liability

This type of coverage can help you pay for injuries to a third party arising from the use of your boat for which you are liable. 

Property Damage Liability

This type of liability insurance helps pay for property damage to a third party for which you are liable. It can also extend to other damages arising from the ownership and operation of your boat, like pollution and contamination, wreck removal, and other items under maritime law.

Medical Payments Coverage

Medical Payments Coverage provides protection if a guest is injured while on, boarding, or leaving your boat. It could include various medical expenses like the hospital and ambulance bills of third parties injured in an accident involving your boat, regardless of fault.

Named Storm Coverage

Named storm insurance provides coverage for damage to your boat caused by a tropical depression, storm, or hurricane that is named by the National Weather Service. 

Damage caused by a named storm can be catastrophic and often involve costly repairs. If boating in a hurricane-prone area, named storm coverage is one of the most important components of the policy.

» MORE: Understanding Named Storm Hurricane Coverage

Boat Insurance Coverage Add-Ons 

As a boat owner, you may need to consider additional insurance options - such as:

  • Towing and Roadside Assistance Coverage: reimburses you for tows or service requests up to the policy limit. 
  • Boat Trailer Coverage: if your trailer is stolen, damaged or vandalized, this coverage may help pay for the repairs and other subsequent costs. 
  • Environmental Coverage: this could help pay for the cleanup costs from an accidental fuel spill and other environmental factors. 
  • Uninsured Boater Coverage: provides financial protection for damage to your watercraft caused by another boater who is uninsured.
  • Hurricane Haul-Out Coverage: this type of coverage may pay for a portion of the cost to have a boat hauled and secured before an incoming storm.

What Does Boat Insurance Not Cover?

Boat insurance policies may have certain exclusions. Here are some common examples:

  • Natural wear and tear
  • Manufacturer defects and faulty boat designs 
  • Mold damage
  • Corrosion
  • Damage due to aquatic life and other creatures 

Boat Insurance Costs 

The cost of a boat insurance policy can vary based on several different factors. Here are some of the common factors that will determine a boat insurance rate:

  • Boat value
  • Boat length, age, and type
  • Location of boat use
  • Owner’s previous claims
  • Owner’s boating experience
  • And more 

At SkiSafe, we offer boat insurance premiums as low as $85 per year. 

Common Boat Insurance Discounts 

There are several boat insurance discounts available, helping you lower your boat insurance rate and save money. 

  • Boat Safely: maintaining a clean driving record can help keep insurance costs down, even when it comes to your boat. If you’re a safe driver on land, that may extend to operating watercraft as well. On the other hand, having multiple accidents and previous claims may increase your rate.
  • Layup Period: If your boat is not in use during the winter, you may be eligible for a significant discount on the policy. Your boat is less at risk of sustaining damage when out of use and your premium may reflect this.
  • Multi-Policy Discounts: Oftentimes, boaters are rewarded when bundling multiple policies. For example, if you own a fishing boat and a jet ski, you may qualify for a discount when insuring both vessels with the same company.
  • Take a Boat Safety Course: If you’re new to boating, consider taking a certified boat safety course. These classes will not only teach you the essentials of operating watercraft safely, but can lower your annual premium amount. 
  • Navigable Waters: Some insurers may offer an additional discount for navigating in specific waters. For example, if you navigate exclusively on Lake Travis in Texas, you may be eligible for a discount on your insurance. 

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