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Do you need boat insurance?


Is boat insurance required?

You don't have to have insurance on a boat if you're using it strictly for pleasure unless you're boating in Arkansas and Utah. Those two states require boat insurance for powerboats with more than 50 horsepower and all personal watercraft. If you're financing your boat, most lienholders will require you to carry comprehensive and collision coverage. In addition, if you plan to dock your boat, some marinas and harbours will require you to show proof of liability coverage, which comes standard on boat policies.

What is boat insurance? Boat insurance protects you financially for any injuries or damage you cause while boating. It can also cover loss or damage to your watercraft and trailer. As with auto insurance, you can select and purchase additional coverages, such as uninsured/underinsured boater (UB/UIB), to give you more protection out on the water.

How does boat insurance work?

Boat insurance works the same way car insurance does. If you damage your boat or cause injuries or damages to someone else, you file a claim with your insurer asking them to pay for it. If it's covered, your insurer pays for the losses or injuries up to your coverage limits.

Important note: One of the biggest myths about boat insurance is that you're adequately covered under home insurance. While your home's policy may protect a smaller boat while it's on your property, it won't offer the kind of coverage you need on the water — especially if you're operating a powerboat.


What does boat insurance cover?

Boat insurance generally won't cover maintenance or general wear and tear. However, it can protect your boat from physical damage, as well as any damages you cause to others. These are the most common coverages available on a boat insurance policy:

  • Liability: Pays for any damages or injuries you cause to others while boating, up to the limits of your policy.

  • Comprehensive insurance: Covers damage to your boat due to events out of your control, such as weather, theft, or fire.

  • Collision insurance: Covers any damage to your boat if you collide with another watercraft or object, regardless of fault. You're also covered if your boat capsizes.

  • Uninsured/underinsured boater (UB/UIB): Pays for your injuries if you're hit by a boater with little or no insurance.

  • Medical payments: Pays for your passengers' medical bills, as well as your own, after a covered accident. In some states, this coverage will begin once you've exhausted your health insurance coverage limits.

What else can boat insurance cover?

There are a variety of other coverages you can get with your boat policy. Here are just a few additional coverages your insurer may offer:

  • Total loss replacement: Your insurer will reimburse you or replace your boat at the original amount you bought it for — regardless of what it's worth now.

  • Trailer trip interruption: Covers expenses for food, lodging, and transportation if your trailer or tow vehicle breaks down more than 100 miles from home.

  • Replacement for personal items: Typically covers the cost to replace fishing equipment or any other personal property lost or stolen from your boat.


Do I need insurance on a boat trailer?

Most cases, damage to your trailer is automatically covered when you add the trailer to your boat policy, so you can keep on cruising — on water or land. In some cases, your homeowner's insurance covers repairs to your boat trailer if it's damaged while on your property. Should I keep my boat insured while it's in storage?

Keeping your boat insured is a good idea, especially if you have comprehensive coverage. Your boat will still be covered for theft, hail damage, and other hazards. Plus, you won't have to worry about reactivating your policy once you're ready to get back out on the water. If you'd prefer to drop coverages, there are some insurers that will let you.


How is boat insurance priced?

Pricing all comes down to risk. In other words, how likely are you to have a boat accident, and what will it cost? Here are a few of the factors that determine how much boat insurance costs: Claims history: If you don't have a record of auto or boat insurance claims, your insurer will consider you less likely to have an on-water accident. Type of boat: Just like with cars and motorcycles, your boat's year, make, and model will affect your price. Newer boats generally cost more to replace, and boats designed for speed often cost more to insure than lower-performance boats. Whether you have an inboard or outboard motor might also influence your rate. Boating experience: The longer you've spent on the water, the better. Experienced boaters are also less likely to have an accident. Completing a watercraft safety course may also help bring down the cost of boat insurance.

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