Boat Insurance FAQs
Published: July 2016
When it comes to boating, it can be easy to get caught up in daydreams of finding scenic fishing spots, sunning yourself on deck or skiing and tubing on the lake. But you'll likely also want to give some thought to how your boat, its contents and your passengers may be protected should the unexpected occur. That's where boat insurance may help.
What does a typical boat insurance policy cover? How is the cost of insurance calculated? We break it down with answers to these and other common questions about boat insurance.
What Hazards Are Typically Covered By Boat Insurance?
A standard boat policy typically covers damage resulting from a collision, fire, lightning, theft and vandalism, and it may cover losses even if they occur on land, the Insurance Information Institute (III) says.
What Coverages Does Boat Insurance Usually Include?
Protection typically extends to the boat itself as well as things such as motors and attached equipment like anchors, the III says.
Boat insurance generally also includes liability protection that may help pay for expenses you incur after an accident involving your watercraft. For instance:
- Bodily injury liability coverage may help 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 may help cover the costs of repairing or replacing another person’s boat or property after you damage it in an accident.
Coverages in your policy are typically subject to limits — the maximum amount your insurance will pay toward a covered loss.
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.
Doesn't My Homeowners Insurance Offer Protection?
Typically, homeowners policies provide minimal coverage — usually only for small boats like a canoe, or a small sail boat or power boat with less than 25 total horsepower. But the coverage is limited: It’s usually capped at about $1,000 or 10 percent of the home's insured value, and 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 winter, you may be tempted to cancel your boat insurance policy for a few months. 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 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 agent 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 Generally 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 coverage you purchase, along with the amount of your deductible, may also play a role in the cost of a boat insurance policy.
What Other Questions Should I Ask an Agent?
While an agent will likely explain your coverages in detail, the III suggests questions to ask as well. For instance, you may want to know: Is equipment that's kept on board (like fishing gear) covered? Is there tow coverage?
You may also want to learn whether your policy includes coverage for wreck removal or fuel clean-up should an accident occur.
Having the appropriate insurance coverages in place before you hit the water can help you rest easy, so you can focus on enjoying good times on your boat.