What Does Boat Insurance Cover?

July 26, 2022

Few things are as enjoyable as a day out on the water. Millions of Americans anticipate boating season all year long and celebrate when it finally arrives. However, boating can be dangerous, especially when excitement is high and alcohol is available. No matter how careful you are, accidents are bound to happen eventually. Boat insurance serves to safeguard your friends, family, and financial security in these situations. But what does boat insurance cover exactly, and why does it matter? 

What Is Boat Insurance? 

Boat insurance is like auto insurance in many ways. It often applies to a variety of aquatic vessels including sailboats, powerboats, pontoons, and personal watercraft. Insurers can also customize these policies according to policyholders’ use cases and coverage needs. 

Boat insurance can cover the policyholder if they’re found liable for damages to property. For instance, most policies include an option for personal liability coverage. If the policyholder’s boat damages another person’s property for some reason, this can help pay for the cost of repairs. Personal liability coverage often covers damage to docks, buildings, and other boats, whether through a direct collision or indirect contact via wakes. 

Many boat insurance policies also include coverage options for bodily injuries and medical payments. In this way, they can assist with the cost of medical bills resulting from injuries caused by your boat. For instance, if a passenger slips while aboard the vessel and needs stitches, a boat insurance policy can cover the resulting hospital bills. However, some policies won’t cover risky watersports like skiing, tubing, and wakeboarding. If you plan to use your boat for these activities, ask your insurance agent if your policy covers watersports. 

Comprehensive coverage applies to events outside of the policyholder’s control. These include things such as theft, vandalism, and severe weather like hail, lightning, and hurricanes. In contrast, collision coverage kicks in and covers critical components like the hull, batteries, fuel tanks, or motors after collisions with objects such as rocks, boats, or docks. Unfortunately, neither of these will cover mold damage, corrosion, or manufacturer defects. 

Boat insurance may not apply to certain items. Boat trailers, fishing gear, and personal effects may require specific coverage. Luckily, insurers often offer extra coverage options for these, as well as add-ons for towing, salvage, and fuel spill liability. 

Why Boat Insurance Matters 

Unlike auto insurance, boat insurance is rarely required by state law except in Utah and Arkansas. Instead, boaters generally must complete a free boating safety course before setting sail. This doesn’t make boat insurance any less important, though. 

Boating accidents are more common than you may think. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) reported more than 5,000 accidents, 3,000 injuries, and 700 fatalities in 2020 alone. It also counted over $62 million in property damage resulting from recreational boating accidents. Alcohol was the leading factor in fatal accidents, and the fatality rate rose significantly from 2019. Furthermore, the USCG stated that “non-fatal accidents are severely under-reported” likely due to an unwillingness to report. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that boating activity, calls for towing assistance, and insurance claims all increased in 2020. 

You may be the safest and most cautious boater on the water, but you simply cannot control the actions of others. That’s why boat insurance is so important for passengers and policyholders alike. Without insurance, you’re at the mercy of luck and lawyers when it comes to potentially life-threatening accidents. Just because you haven’t had one yet doesn’t mean you’re immune. 

Boat insurance is extremely affordable, especially when compared to the cost of repairs and hospital bills. Many insurers even offer various discounts to encourage safe boating. Premiums ultimately depend on the age, size, and value of the boat, as well as the policyholder’s boating experience and claims history. However, most policies cost less than $1000 per year. That’s a small price to pay for peace of mind, in our opinion. 

Set Sail with Confidence  

We always recommend boat insurance whether you’re a seasoned sailor or first-time boat owner. While it’s rarely required by law, the right policy will protect you when you need it most. Knowing what boat insurance does and doesn’t cover can empower you to make good decisions both on and off the water. Please feel free to contact us for a free quote or to learn more about boat insurance today. We can help you craft the perfect policy for your specific needs.