Summer’s nearly here, and with boating fishing season in full swing across much of the USA, many people are getting their sport and pleasure craft ready for the ponds, lakes, rivers, and shorelines across America.
And while a day on the boat can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience, it’s important to remember that there are a lot of boaters out there — of varying levels of experience. Accidents can and do happen — even on the water — and they can be costly.
This Is Where Boat Insurance Comes In
Boat insurance is designed to protect you financially in the event of an accident or damage to your boat caused by a covered peril, like an accident, fire, or lightning. Boat insurance can also be used to cover you if your boat is stolen.
Because it’s essential to understand what boat insurance covers and what it doesn’t, this blog will help you be confident you’re getting the right coverage for your needs.
What Is A “Boat?”
Boat insurance is meant to cover some — but not all — watercraft. This can include sailboats, catamarans, fishing boats, motorboats, yachts, working watercraft, row boats, runabouts with outboard motors, and submarines — usually anything propelled by a sail, an oar, or an engine.
However, boat insurance is not intended for floating devices, like canoes or kayaks, rafts, and pontoons, which might instead be included in your homeowner’s policy.
What’s Typically Covered By Boat Insurance?
Just like you insure your car, if you own a boat, it’s important to protect your investment with boat insurance. But most people don’t really understand what boat insurance covers.
Here’s a breakdown of the coverage you can typically expect:
Physical damage coverage:
- Property coverage provides protection from damage to boats and boat components, including the hull, engine, sails, and electronics — regardless of whether it’s on water or land. Typically this includes damage caused by accidents, fire, lightning, and severe weather events like hurricanes. For example, if your boat is damaged during a storm and needs repairs, your insurance will cover the cost of the repairs.
- And if something really bad happens, like your boat getting stolen, vandalized, or wrecked, you can choose between two types of coverage: actual cash value or agreed value (replacement cost). This decision affects how much you’ll pay for insurance and how much money the insurance company will pay out if you need to make a claim.
- When you’re out on the water, accidents can happen. If the operation of your boat ends up causing damage to someone else’s property — like another boat — your liability insurance has got you covered. Your liability insurance also kicks in if someone gets hurt — on either boat. Liability insurance can also come in handy if your watercraft creates a big wake that causes problems for others.
- Not only does liability insurance pay for damages caused by your boat, but it also covers your legal fees if you end up getting sued over an incident covered by the policy, such as a boating accident.
Medical payments coverage:
- Let’s go back to that hypothetical accident we just discussed. If you happen to get into a boating accident and either you or your passengers end up getting injured, medical payments coverage can help cover the medical expenses — regardless of who is at fault.
- And it doesn’t have to be just an accident pertaining to boat operation. If one of your passengers falls and breaks their leg while on your boat, your insurance will cover the cost of their medical expenses.
Uninsured/underinsured boater coverage:
- This covers you and your passengers if you are in an accident with another boater who doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the damages.
- For example, if someone without insurance crashes into your boat, uninsured/underinsured watercraft coverage will have your back by paying for the damages to your boat and any medical bills resulting from injuries sustained by you or your passengers.
Personal property coverage:
- This coverage is essential to boat insurance, as it applies to personal items like fishing gear, water sports equipment, and electronics you might have on board.
- For instance, if your expensive tackle box is stolen from your boat, your insurance policy will cover it. Similarly, if your electronics, such as your GPS, stereo system, or other equipment, get damaged in an accident, the insurance can reimburse you for replacing the lost items.
What’s Not Typically Covered Boat Insurance?
Boat insurance policies come with exclusions, which means there are some things they won’t cover. Common examples include wear and tear from regular use, defects in the boat’s design or manufacturing, corrosion, and overuse.
You won’t be covered for damages caused by bugs, mold, or water critters either — like if a seal climbs aboard your boat and scratches or tears upholstery, damages electronics, or bends a railing. Or let’s say a beaver chews through a mooring line, causing your boat to drift away and get damaged.
These examples are often considered a result of normal wear and tear from the environment and may not be covered under a standard boat insurance policy.
Coverage Can Vary, So Ask For Guidance!
In addition to financial coverage, boat insurance can sometimes also offer additional benefits such as emergency towing, roadside assistance, and fuel spill cleanup. These benefits can provide peace of mind and added protection in the event of an unexpected situation on or off the water. But they are not offered by all insurance providers and policies.
Coverage can vary a lot depending on the type of vessel and how and where it’s being used, so it’s best to work with an experienced insurance agent to help ensure you have the coverage you need.
At Guided Solutions, we understand that navigating the world of boat insurance can be overwhelming, which is why we’re here to help. Our experienced insurance agents can work with you to evaluate your needs and find the best coverage options for your specific situation.