When you sit down and ask yourself, “Do I need boat insurance?” you’re really asking a whole bunch more.
- First answer to “Do I need boat insurance” is yes, according to law, if you are on certain types of boats in Hawaii, Utah, or Arkansas. Certain states require some boat owners to carry policies with different minimums, similar to how each state has different car insurance minimums.
- Second answer to “Do I need boat insurance” is yes, if you’re financing your boat. Some lenders make boat insurance a requirement for getting a loan.
- Third answer to “Do I need boat insurance” is yes, if you plan to dock at a marina.
- Fourth answer to “Do I need boat insurance” is yes, if you want your investment protected. Boat insurance can cover injuries or damage to your boat or if someone else causes injuries or damage to you or your boat. Boat insurance may also cover the theft of a boat, personal watercraft, or boat trailer.
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Some boaters believe a homeowner’s insurance policy covers their boat. This may be in part true for smaller boats kept on the same property, but insurers routinely warn that homeowner’s policies rarely offer coverage that boaters need out on the water, especially aboard powerboats. Standard boat policies cover things like the boat’s hull, engines, batteries, and other components, as well as incidents such as fuel spills or wreckage removal if you get into an accident with your boat.
A boat-insurance policy can also continue to protect the boat against theft during winter storage periods—although some insurers allow boat owners to reduce or drop some coverages within a policy during months when the boat is not in use. This is a read-the-fine-print situation, no matter which insurer you decide to use.
To determine how much a boat-insurance policy will cost, you can fill out an online application with any company that offers policies. Many boat dealers recommend getting pre-qualified for insurance before even beginning to shop for a boat, so you will know what kind of insurance policy you will be able to get.
READ MORE: How Much Does Boat Insurance Cost?
Insurers issuing boat policies consider more than just a customer’s financial background. They also look at things like the customer’s boating history and experience, the type of boat, where the boat will be used, and which seasons the boat will be used. Knowing how and where you plan to use the boat will be just as important as the replacement cost of the boat when shopping for an insurance policy.
And, if you live in or plan to do a lot of boating in Florida or other hurricane-prone locations, your boat insurance policy is likely to include hurricane-season restrictions, as well. Again, this is a situation where you need to read the fine print, and where you may want to get pre-qualified for insurance in advance of shopping for a boat, so you’ll know exactly how you’ll be able to use it while keeping your insurance coverage active.
Also note: You can sometimes get a discount on boat insurance if you complete a boater education course. Check with your insurance provider to see if you might qualify.
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Kim Kavin has been on boats in more than 50 countries and islands, including in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, South Pacific, Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. She grew up learning to steer a ski boat and Hobie Holder at her grandfather’s lake house in New Jersey, and went on to spend time aboard everything from America’s Cup racing sailboats to submarines.
Kim is a PADI-certified scuba diver and animal lover who always enjoys a good, long look around a coral reef. Her award-winning writing and editing regularly appears in national marine magazines and on leading websites. In her early years, she was a Dow Jones editing intern and a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism. When she’s not writing, Kim can usually be found hiking northwest New Jersey’s beautiful park trails with her adopted shelter mutt, Ginger.