Boating is an exciting pastime pursued by many Americans, but buying a boat is a big purchase that can also expose you to a lot more risks. As with all of your bigger investments, like cars and houses, you are going to want to make sure that you are protected if anything were to happen to them. A common misconception people have about boats is that they are covered under your homeowners insurance policy.
While a boat may be mentioned in your policy, the coverage is very limited and likely will not be nearly enough on its own. Homeowners policies that include boats often only cover very small boats, cover only around $1,000 in damages, and only covers boats in storage, meaning that you are not covered or are underinsured when you are out using your boat on the water. Often the deductible will already be close to $1,000; so using your homeowners policy to cover your boat is fairly pointless. Homeowners policies will come with liability insurance that may apply if needed, however, it has strict limitations on the size of the craft it covers, and again only includes small boats. You will be much better protected if you buy specific boat insurance.
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Boat insurance is much more comprehensive and can be specialized to fit your specific needs. It will cover almost all kinds of boats with motors and protect you in many more situations. The amount of boat insurance you will need is going to vary depending on what kind of boat you have, how old it is, and how you plan to use it. The big must-haves are liability insurance, and some amount of uninsured/underinsured coverage so that you can protect yourself even if other boaters choose not to be insured. Your comprehensive coverage and collision coverage will depend on the value of your boat. Comprehensive coverage covers you in the case of vandalism, theft, flood, fire, and can include coverage for your valuable personal property like speakers or fishing gear. Some policies even cover your boat trailer. In the case of a collision with another boat, like with auto insurance, the responsibility to pay will fall on the person who is at fault. So, if you are at fault, then your liability insurance will kick in, and vice versa if the other person is at fault.
Are There Any Restrictions?
It is important to be aware of the details of your coverage. With boat coverage, you may have geographical restrictions. This means that you may only be able to use it in a designated area, or you may be restricted to just using your craft in the ocean or only in inland bodies of water. You need to be aware of this because if something happens outside the areas that you are covered for then you will not be able to use your insurance. When you are transporting your boat on land on a trailer your boat is still protected, but now it falls under your auto insurance policy until it is back in the water or storage.
How Is The Value Of My Boat Determined?
Boats, like cars, come in many variations of age, use, and power that give them different values. With boat insurance there are two ways that value can be determined: “agreed value” and market value”. Market value represents the boat’s current value and agreed value is a value that you and your insurer agree on. Market value is the more common measure for your policy to be based on.
How to Save Money On Boat Insurance
The price of boat insurance depends on many different factors, but there are a few ways that you can save some money on your policy.
- Find a boating class. The class will not only enhance your knowledge and safety skills, but insurance agencies often give discounts when you have completed these classes.
- Use a “lay-up” period. This is a great way to avoid wasting money on your boat insurance. Boating is often a seasonal hobby, so insurance companies will offer these periods where you can suspend your insurance during the winter months while your boat is in storage. Just be aware of your dates and don’t take your boat for a ride during this period or you will not be covered.
- Safety-features installed on your boat can get you discounts and save you from having to use your policy.
So, while homeowners insurance may mention coverage of a watercraft or small boat, it will not be nearly enough to protect you or your boat from all of the possible risks out on the water. Boat insurance varies widely across states and types of boats so make sure to shop around and know your boat and boating needs to get the best coverage for you.