Would you want the money you spent on your boat to sink to the bottom of a river? What would you do if you got into an accident and got sued? Boat insurance is what will protect you.
Do You Have to Have Boat Insurance?
Unlike car insurance, there are few mandatory requirements for boat insurance. They mostly apply to commercial operations, and recreational boaters generally don’t need to carry any boat insurance at all.
That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to go without boat insurance. Whether or not you choose to buy insurance, you’re financially responsible for any injuries or property damage that you cause. You’d also probably want to be able to repair or replace your boat if something happened to it.
How Much Does Boat Insurance Cost?
Boat insurance costs vary based on what type of boat you have, how you use it, where you keep it, your claims history, and other factors. For example, a small fishing boat with a slow engine will generally be relatively inexpensive, while a high-speed powerboat will be one of the more expensive boats to insure. Most boat insurance policies will cost less than car insurance.
When Should You Buy Boat Insurance?
If you already have a boat, the answer is right away. If you’re sinking, don’t call an insurance company before you call the DNR, because most policies take effect the next day at the earliest.
If you’re buying a boat, handle it just like buying a car. You can get estimated quotes before you buy, but your insurance policy will be tied to a specific boat. Know which insurance company you’ll call, and then do so right before you sign the final paperwork. Once you take possession of the boat, you accept the risk of loss if you have an accident on the way home or even in the boat lot.
Will Your Home Insurance Cover You?
Your home insurance might provide limited protection. This is more likely if you have something like a kayak or a boat with a small trolling motor. Most home insurance liability policies have limits on the size of your boat, the power of its motor, and where you use your boat. Your property coverage may also have exclusions or limits that leave your boat uncovered or partially covered even if it’s worth less than your property coverage limit.
Will Your Auto Insurance Cover You?
Your boat is simply not a car, so car insurance doesn’t give you much if any protection. Auto insurance will often cover your liability for an accident you cause while towing your boat as long as your vehicle is designed for towing. It often won’t cover accident damage to your boat, or it might have limited property coverage that would only pay for a fraction of what your boat is worth.
What Protection Does Your Boat Insurance Give You?
When you buy boat insurance, you can select from several standard options.
Protection for Liability
Liability coverage protects you if you damage another boat or onshore property or injure someone in a boating accident. It covers things you could typically be sued for, like the other person’s repairs or medical bills.
Protection for Your Boat
You can also select damage protection for your boat itself. This covers the repairs or replacement if you get into an accident, run aground, or get swamped by a wave and sink. It does not cover routine mechanical problems like a faulty engine. Many policies give you the option of choosing to be covered for the current cash value of your boat or a new boat.
Coverage for Salvage
If something happens to your boat, you can’t just abandon it in most cases. It may be a navigational hazard, and there are often environmental laws in place as well. Salvage coverage pays for someone to remove your boat including raising it if it has sunk.
If you breakdown on the water, you could be stranded far from help, and towing services can be very expensive. While there are towing companies that offer memberships that send you help when you need it, you can often include the same service with your insurance policy at a lower cost.
Whether you give tours, take people fishing, or engage in some other business activity, personal boat insurance won’t be enough. You’ll need special business coverage both to protect against the unique liabilities of what you do and to have general protection for your boat. These coverages work the same way as other boat insurance. You just need to mention what business you’re in when buying insurance.
What Discounts are Available?
There are many different types of discounts available. Some insurance companies offer bundle discounts if you buy multiple types of coverage from them. You may also get a discount if you have a safe boating history, take a safety course, or pay in full.
What if I Don’t Use My Boat That Much?
Most boat insurance policies already take into account that most people are lucky if they can even get out on the water a few times per month. However, some insurance companies may differentiate between heavier and lighter use, so it’s always a good idea to mention how much you use your boat.
Request a Quote
Your independent insurance agent can help you find the right coverage at the right price. If you’re near Shawano or Brodhead, WI, contact Sagen & Associates Insurance to get started or request more information.