Insurance coverage for water recreation

A family rides on a boat on a lake.
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As the temperatures heat up and people start heading to beaches, rivers, and lakes, fun in — and on — the water means that it isn’t long before boats and jet skis are on wish lists.

Before you run out and buy the boat or jet ski of your dreams, let’s look at some water recreation insurance coverage factors you might want to consider.

Will my watercraft be covered by my homeowners insurance policy?

The type of insurance you’ll need for watercraft is going to differ, sometimes dramatically, depending on what you are looking to cover. Some smaller, non-motorized items might be covered under your homeowners insurance policy. Canoes and kayaks, for example, might be covered — but check your policy, because there may be limits on the value.

Even something like a paddle board might require a special rider on a homeowners policy if it is over a certain value. On the other hand, some insurers categorize kayaks as “boats” and require separate boat coverage. There can also be regional differences on what types of watercraft are covered.

What type of insurance should I buy for my jet skis?

Jet skis are typically considered a “personal watercraft” item, and they do require separate coverage. Insurance carriers can vary on whether or not they cover these items. So, if you decide to purchase one, don’t assume that your homeowners insurance will be able to offer you this line of coverage — but, if they do, you might be eligible for a multi-line discount for adding another policy.

What type of insurance should I buy for my sailboat?

Sailboats may sometimes be covered by your homeowners policy, and sometimes not — there are a lot of variables to consider and policies vary from state to state, and from carrier to carrier. Some of the factors that will be considered are the size of the sailboat, the cost, and the horsepower of an outboard motor — if there’s one on the sailboat.

What type of insurance should I buy for my motorized boat?

Motorized boats virtually always require separate boat insurance, and it’s important to investigate what is covered in a basic policy and what additional coverages are available. Boat insurance generally covers liability from injuries that happen when the boat is on the water and operational, property damage (such as damage caused by hitting a dock), and things like theft or fire, but policies can differ from one carrier to another.

You should also know the difference between an Agreed Value and Market Value policy. Like cars and trucks, boats depreciate as soon as they leave the dealership; a Market Value policy will reflect this. With an Agreed Value policy, the policy will pay what the policyholder and the carrier agreed the boat was worth when it was insured.

Things can get a bit more complicated when the boat is out of the water — such as when it is being towed. If an accident happens on the highway when a boat is being towed, typically it is the auto policy of the vehicle that is doing the towing that covers the damages, after the deductible is met.

These different scenarios are why it is important to take the time to learn exactly what is covered by your boat insurance and when. Ask about situations like hail damage to your boat if it is parked on your property when a storm hits — you might need umbrella coverage to ensure everything is covered. Depending on the size of your boat, your policy may also have distance restrictions on how far you can take your watercraft.

Have a fun — and safe! — summer on or off the water.

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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