There’s nothing that quite matches the excitement that comes with owning your own boat. Insuring your boat is the best way to protect an investment that you worked so hard for, keeping you protected in case you run into some manner of choppy waters.
Is boat insurance required?
You might think that insurance is a basic requirement of boat ownership. But while most states require that boaters take a safety course, Progressive’s Boat Insurance 101 page notes that Arkansas and Utah are the only two states that currently mandate boat insurance.
This isn’t to say that other entities won’t require some form of coverage. Progressive notes that marinas will typically require proof of insurance if you plan to dock there. You’ll likely also need to carry boat insurance if you plan to finance your purchase, just as you would with an automobile.
While boat insurance isn’t necessarily a requirement in all cases, it’s still simply the smartest way to protect your investment. If your boat is uninsured and either incurs or inflicts damage or causes some kind of injury, you could wind up on the hook for a hefty bill.
What does boat insurance cover?
Investopedia contributor Megan Glosson writes that you can get insurance coverage for the vast majority of water-based craft, including personal watercraft like jet skis, motorboats, sailboats, and yachts. If your craft is worth less than $1,000 — a kayak or canoe for example — insurance may not be necessary.
Like other types of insurance, boat insurance is available with a wide range of coverages and options. Glosson notes similarities to auto insurance plans with coverage including bodily injury and property damage liability, collision, and comprehensive. This takes care of issues like theft and vandalism, damage caused by accidents or sinking, and medical expenses incurred by you or another boater due to injury. You can also get uninsured and underinsured boater insurance to cover injuries caused by another boater who lacks adequate insurance.
There are also additional add-ons that you can include with your boating insurance policies. Forbes Advisor Ashely Kilroy and editor Jason Metz write that this might include coverage for boat trailers, accessories like radar, and even fishing equipment. Kilroy and Metz also recommend considering additional coverage for fuel spills and wreckage removal as those costs will otherwise fall to you in the event of an accident.
As far as what boat insurance doesn’t cover, Kilroy and Metz name common examples. Policies won’t cover damage caused by regular use or overuse, including corrosion, mold, and use-related mechanical issues. You likely won’t be covered in the event that damage is caused to your boat by insects, sea birds, or aquatic animals.
How much does boat insurance cost?
As a general rule, it might be best to avoid buying a boat if you can’t also afford the cost of insuring it. Fortunately, Kilroy and Metz note that the average cost of insuring a boat falls somewhere between $200 and $500, which is not dissimilar from annual auto insurance premiums for good drivers.
There are of course several factors that can impact the price of insuring your boat. Kilroy and Metz include the value, age, length, and category of your boat as major influences on insurance costs. Your prices will also vary based on where you anchor the boat, where you use it, and how experienced you are as a boater.
Being able to take your boat out on the lake or out to sea is a privilege worth indulging in if you can afford it. And if you can afford that privilege, protecting your investment with boat insurance can help you weather even the toughest storms.