Do you have to have insurance on a boat?

docked boat with insurance coverage
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As a boat owner, you may be wondering if you’re required to have boat insurance. By law, in most states, you aren’t required to have boat insurance, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need it. Utah and Arkansas are the only two states that require proof of boaters insurance.

Even though most states don’t require you to obtain boat insurance, if you plan to dock your boat at a marina or have a loan on the boat, you’re usually required to purchase boat insurance.

What is boat insurance?

Boat insurance protects you if there is damage to your boat, motor, trailer or personal items in the boat. It’s also there to help you in the event of any lawsuits or medical bills.

Typically, only small, non motorized boats can be insured under your homeowners insurance policy. Boat insurance protects almost all watercrafts with engines. Accidents can happen, but with boat insurance, you can get a peace of mind knowing you’re covered.

What does boat insurance cover?

Your standard homeowners insurance most likely doesn’t cover your motorized boat. If you own or purchase small rowboats, kayaks, or canoes these are typically covered by standard homeowners insurance and shouldn’t affect your premium. If you have a boat bigger than the previously stated, it’s smart to obtain boaters insurance in case of an accident.

Depending on your policy, your boat can be covered for hurricane or tropical storm damage. Passengers and the owner are covered through boat insurance if there is an accident. Passengers on the boat are covered under the liability portion of the boater’s policy. However, depending on your policy, this may or may not extend to water skiers and tubers you may have on your boat.

When you purchase boat insurance, a standard policy will most likely include:

  • Bodily injury liability: If someone gets hurt while on your boat, this may provide coverage for medical bills and any legal issues from the accident.
  • Property damage: If you’re at fault in a boating accident that damaged another boat or other property, this coverage will protect you.
  • Collision: If you’re in an accident, collision provides coverage for repairs or replacement of your boat. Also, if your engine blows because of a collision or a manufacturer's defect, it’s typically covered by boat insurance.
  • Comprehensive: Comprehensive coverage is for non-collision related incidents. For example, you are protected from things like flooding, storm damage, theft and fire.
  • Uninsured/underinsured: If you get into an accident with someone who is uninsured or underinsured, this coverage will help protect you.
  • Medical payment coverage: If you’re injured while in a boating accident, this coverage will pay for your medical bills.

The amount of compensation you receive for a boat insurance claim depends on a few things, including your deductibles and limits.

What does boat insurance not cover?

Most boat insurance policies don’t include the following coverages in standard policies, but for an extra cost you can get these benefits:

  • Fuel spill liability: This will pay for the costs of spilled fuel.
  • Wreck removal: This covers the cost to remove a damaged boat.
  • Temporary repairs: This will pay for reasonable repairs you make to protect your property.
  • Ice coverage: If your boat is damaged during freezing weather this protects you.

How much does boat insurance cost?

The cost of boat insurance varies based on where you live, the boat size, type, length, and whether you’re using it inland or on open seas. The average rate to insure a boat is around 1.5 percent of the boat's value. For example, if your boat is worth $20,000, your boat insurance will cost about $300.

You can receive discounts on your premiums for signing up for multiple policies through a single insurer, taking a boating safety course, receiving a boaters license and having a good driving record.

If you’re looking to bundle your boat insurance with your homeowners insurance, see which insurers other consumers rate as the top home insurance companies.

The content on this site is offered only as a public service to the web community and does not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. This site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an insurance company or an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. You should always consult a suitably qualified attorney regarding any specific legal problem or matter. The comments and opinions expressed on this site are of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the insurance company or any individual attorney.

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