Boat Insurance FAQs
Last updated: August 2023
From helping pay for repairs to your damaged boat to providing protection if you cause an accident with your watercraft, boat insurance may prove useful in several ways.
If you're a new boat owner or just want a better understanding of what scenarios a policy helps cover, you may have some questions. We break it down with answers to some frequently asked questions about boat insurance.
What does a boat insurance policy cover?
A standard boat policy typically covers damage resulting from a collision, fire, lightning, theft or vandalism, and it may cover those risks even if they occur on land, the Insurance Information Institute (III) says.
Protection usually extends to the boat itself as well as motors and attached equipment like anchors, the III says.
Boat insurance generally also includes liability protection that helps pay for expenses you incur after an accident involving your watercraft. For instance:
- Bodily injury liability coverage helps protect you from paying out of pocket for medical bills and other related costs after someone is injured in an accident that you caused.
- Property damage liability coverage helps cover the costs of repairing or replacing another person's boat or property if you accidentally damage it.
Coverages in your policy are typically subject to limits — the maximum amount your insurance will pay toward a covered loss. It's important to review your limits so you understand how much coverage your policy offers. Your insurance provider can help you adjust your limits to fit your needs.
Do I need insurance if my boat isn't expensive?
The financial risk of being a boat owner doesn't just include the cost of replacing or repairing your boat — there are potential medical bills if you, someone on your boat or another person is injured in an accident. And there are the potential costs of repairing another person's property as well as other risks to consider. Boat insurance may help prevent you from paying out of pocket in those kinds of situations.
Doesn't my homeowners insurance offer protection?
Homeowners policies typically provide minimal coverage for watercraft — usually only for small boats like a canoe, or a small sailboat or power boat with less than 25 total horsepower. There is no coverage under a homeowners policy for personal watercrafts like jet-skis. Even then, the coverage is limited: It's usually capped at about $1,000 or 10 percent of the home's insured value. Liability coverage is typically not included, according to the III.
Do I need boat insurance during the off-season?
If your boat is on dry land during the off-season, you may be tempted to cancel your boat insurance policy for the winter. However, it's important to keep in mind that risks such as fire or theft may be present throughout the year, regardless of whether your boat is in use. Without boat insurance, you may have to pay out of pocket to repair or replace your watercraft if it's stolen or damaged during the winter months.
Is my boat protected while it's being transported?
Boat owners may assume that an auto insurance policy's protection extends to the trailer and boat. In fact, your auto insurance policy may help cover the trailer — although you may need to specifically add it to your policy — but what about your boat?
Policies can vary, so talking to your insurance providor is the best way to find out for sure what coverage you may have for your boat while it's on the road.
How are boat insurance costs calculated?
A boat insurance premium may be determined by factors such as the type of boat you own, its size and value, and the waterways you'll be navigating, the III says. The types and levels of coverage you purchase, along with the amount of your deductible, also play a role in the cost of a boat insurance policy.