Insuring a boat can be a complicated endeavor. While some smaller boats may be fully covered under your homeowner’s insurance, most boats will need to be covered by specialized insurance. There are many options and add-ons you can include in your insurance plan, and some that you may have no choice but to cover.
A general boat insurance policy covers you for liability if someone is injured on your craft and gives you the choice between replacement cost and cash value in a total loss. It also typically includes coverage for bodily injury that your boat inflicts on others, property damage your boat inflicts on docks and other boats, and physical damage to your boat should you hit something or run aground. Most policies will also cover permanently attached equipment, as well as items like anchors, oars, trolling motors, tools, seat cushions, and life jackets. Be sure to discuss these options with your agent.
Typical exclusions from these “all-risk” boat policies include wear and tear, marring, denting, animal damage, manufacturer’s’ defects, design defects, ice and freezing.
You will need to purchase additional insurance for comprehensive coverage against theft, vandalism, fire and flood, personal property coverage for your fishing gear, uninsured boater insurance and even roadside assistance in the event you need a tow.
Some policies offer an optional endorsement that helps pay to move your boat out of harm’s way when a named storm approaches. If you boat in a hurricane zone, your insurer may demand that you provide a hurricane plan. If a storm approaches, you will be expected to have it stored in a hurricane-proof facility or have it towed or skippered to a safer harbor. Your plan can affect your rates, and you should be prepared to follow the plan to the letter – your coverage may hinge on it.
If you plan to travel internationally, be sure your policy provides coverage where you want to roam. Many insurers will not provide insurance for certain areas for political or security reasons (think Somali pirates.)
You can also get specialized coverage for something specific on your boat like an expensive prop or navigation equipment, consequential damage policies that cover wear and tear (rot, mold, corrosion) rather than an accident, and salvage coverage that pays to remove your boat due to damage, from substantial to minor.
With so many options for insurance coverage, it pays to talk to a specialized boat insurance agent to determine your exact needs. You don’t want to be underinsured in case of an accident, but you don’t want to pay for excessive insurance either. A specialist boat insurer can help you determine the right balance.