Updated: September 2016
Even if you are the diligent type who takes measures to winterize your boat each year, there may be one element of the protection process you've overlooked. If you haven't already, you may also want to make sure you're maintaining insurance coverage for your boat during the off season.
While it may be tempting to cancel a policy to save a few dollars when your boat is laid up for the season, it's important to know that your boat may still face risks while it's in storage. Fire, vandalism and theft aren't limited to the warmer months; they can be year-round risks.
For instance, according to 2015 statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, more than 2,700 watercraft thefts occurred in the off-season, between the months of January and April and September and December.
If you were to terminate your boat policy for the winter, and a theft — or some other calamity — were to happen, you could be responsible for paying for any repairs or damages yourself.
There are also other reasons you may want to keep your coverage active year-round. Some people cancel their boat policy because they believe their homeowners insurance will stretch to cover their boat against mishaps while it's tucked away for the winter. But, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), in many cases it won't.
Even if your homeowners policy does extend coverage to boats, the III says it would likely only cover a small boat, like a canoe, small sail boat or another similarly low-powered watercraft. And there probably would be limits: The coverage would likely have a cap of about $1,000, the III says.
If you plan to rent storage space for your boat, you may also want to check with the company to learn about any security measures it has in place and whether the facility provides any insurance for your watercraft.
There may be some scenarios in which you are actually required to have an active insurance policy during the winter months. For instance, if you have financed your boat, your lender may require that you hold year-round coverage for it, says the National Marine Lenders Association.
You may be able to adjust the cost of coverage in the off season. For example, you may find that it makes sense for you to lower your premiums for a time by reducing your limits or dropping some of your policy's coverage types.Talk to your agent to see what is available, and what makes sense for your situation.
Whatever you decide, though, you'll likely want to revert to your original policy come spring. That way, when you pull your boat out of storage, you can launch with protections to help keep your boat protected, and your boating season carefree.