Boat Insurance FAQ: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Boat

Now is the time of year when you’ll want to take the boat out and explore a lake, ocean, or go fishing and enjoy all kinds of water activities. But before you do, you’ll need to make sure your boat is covered for the things you most care about, and that you’re protected in the event of some unfortunate occurrence. Read on to find out if you are truly covered.

I have homeowners insurance. Do I really need boater’s insurance?
While it’s true that your homeowners policy is likely to cover a small boat, most boat owners will benefit from having a more specifically tailored boater’s insurance policy. First, let’s get the facts straight. Your homeowners insurance may cover a small boat with no engine or a very small engine, like a sailboat. It’s a minimal amount of coverage, but it may be all you need. If, however, you’re purchasing a $20,000+ boat, your homeowners policy will not be enough.

Boater’s insurance is important to have because it not only covers your boat, but also the equipment that goes along with your boat—this includes oars, life jackets, seat cushions, anchors and more. Make sure you see that these are included in your policy. Also, most policies include uninsured boaters liability, towing costs and medical payments in case of an accident on the water.

What other types of specific boater’s insurance policies should I consider?
It depends on the type of boat you own. For instance, you could get marine insurance, which covers a wide variety of boats. These may include sailboats, dinghies and yachts. If fishing is your thing, professionals can get ProAngler and Charter policies that will cover special equipment, as well as the travel expenses to go to tournaments and other events. Sometimes you can get a customized policy to cover only your specific needs.

What types of things does homeowners insurance cover for my small boat?
Homeowners insurance will cover damage to your boat if it’s parked on your property and something happens to it. However, it won’t necessarily cover any stolen equipment on the boat or vandalism. You have to read your policy carefully to check if those things are covered. Again, because of these limitations, many boat owners choose to get boater’s insurance and not depend solely on homeowners insurance.

What does boater’s insurance actually cover?
Boat insurance policies will cover damage to the boat if you hit something, whether it’s an obstruction on the lake, the dock or even another boat.  It includes bodily injury coverage if your boat harms other people. It covers you for liability if someone has an accident while on your boat. You’ll want to get comprehensive coverage for theft, fires, vandalism, uninsured boater insurance, and personal property coverage such as fishing equipment and other property found on your boat. If there’s an accident that results in a total loss, you’ll have the option of getting the replacement cost or cash value for what your boat is worth.  (See the difference between “agreed value” and “market value” below.)

Can I insure my boat only for the time I use it?
A nice benefit of boater’s insurance is that yes, you can insure it only for the period of time that you’ll be using it. This is especially nice in New England, when there are only a few months of the year when you’re likely to take the boat out. So unlike homeowners insurance, a boat policy will allow you to suspend coverage for the months the boat is not in use.

What’s the difference between “agreed value” and “market value?”
Unfortunately, like a car, your boat depreciates in value the moment you buy it. If there’s a total loss and your policy is “agreed value,” this means you’ll be paid what the boat cost at the time you bought it. This is the best way to go if you have an older boat. “Market value,” on the other hand, will pay you what the boat is worth now—at the time of your accident. Insurance companies offer huge discounts on market value policies because you’d be agreeing to take less money in the event of an accident.

Keep checking our blog for more helpful insurance tips and information! For all your home, auto, boat and other insurance needs, please contact Zawada Insurance Agency, Inc. We work to give you comprehensive coverage at a competitive price. We’re a family-owned and operated independent insurance agency, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, serving central Massachusetts and beyond.

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