Updated: July 2016
Whether you use your boat for family fishing trips or scenic weekend excursions, you've likely invested some time and money in your watercraft. But what happens if your boat is unexpectedly damaged or a passenger is injured during what was supposed to be a relaxing day on the water? That's where boat insurance may help.
Boat insurance policies may include several types of coverages that may help protect you, the guests you invite on board and your vessel.
While coverages may vary, here's a look at some of the protections you'll typically find in a boat insurance policy.
Property coverage: Boat insurance typically helps protect a boat (and other watercraft) from certain risks. For instance, property coverage may help pay to repair your boat after it's damaged in an accident, or help pay to replace it in the event that it's stolen, the Insurance Information Institute (III) explains. This coverage usually helps protect a boat whether it's on water or land.
Liability coverage: If you cause an accident that damages another person's boat, someone else's property or injures someone who is not on your boat, liability coverage may help pay for expenses you incur as a result.
Medical payments coverage: Suppose you or your passengers are injured after an accident on your boat. Medical payments coverage may help pay for resulting expenses such as hospital bills, medications or X-rays.
Uninsured watercraft coverage: What would happen if an uninsured boater collides with your watercraft and you or one of your passengers are injured? The uninsured watercraft coverage on your boat insurance policy may help pay for the resulting expenses.
It's a good idea to consider whether your boat insurance provides the protection that best fits your needs. The III suggests asking your agent about coverage for things like boat trailers, accessories, special equipment (fishing gear, for instance) and towing coverage.
You may also want to look into whether your policy includes coverage to help pay for the cost of fuel spills or wreckage removal in the event of an accident on the water.
In some cases, you may find these protections are part of your policy or are available as optional add-ons.
As with any insurance, coverage limits will apply. Limits are the maximum amount your policy will pay out after a covered loss. You'll typically find that each type of coverage within a policy has its own limit. Read your policy to learn what your coverage limits are and talk with your local agent to learn whether you can adjust those limits based on your needs.
If you do need to file a claim, you'll likely need to pay your deductible before your insurance kicks in to help pay for the loss.
Armed with a basic knowledge of how boat insurance may help protect you, your boat and others, you can set sail with the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have certain safeguards in place, just in case.