Common questions about boat insurance

Common questions about boat insurance

May 16, 2021

Do you need boat insurance?

If you live in one of the few states that require it, yes. You may also need insurance if you're financing your boat or docking it at a marina. Even if you don't technically need boat insurance, it's still good to have, as it can help pay for damages to your boat, as well as any damages or injuries you cause to others.

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 harbors 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.