You wouldn’t drive a car or motorcycle without insurance, so what makes you think that it’s okay to take your motorboat out on the water without a policy in place to cover you, your guests, and your property in case of accident or injury? Although you’re probably more likely to get in a fender bender on land, you might easily run aground or fall victim to inclement weather during a boating excursion. Or a passenger might fall overboard, get knocked unconscious by a swinging boom on your sailboat, or suffer from severe seasickness that lands them in the E.R. The point is that you need to be prepared for anything that could go wrong on your boat if you don’t want to pay the price (literally). So here are a few things you should know about boat insurance.
- If you have a boat you should insure it. Most people don’t realize that their homeowner’s insurance policy could extend to their boat. However, the coverage is extremely limited, so you’ll definitely want to get the particulars before you rely on this policy to pay for your boat in the case of a loss. If you have an expensive water craft or you plan to take guests out on it, you’ll almost certainly want to beef up your coverage by obtaining a policy particular to your boat. If someone gets hurt or you end up with a total loss due to an accident of some sort, you’re foresight in this area will pay off.
- State requirements. As it turns out, laws about boating insurance vary from state to state, so if you don’t carry coverage, you’ll need to make sure you don’t put your boat out on the water in any locales that require it. In truth, you’re better off having it just in case of damage or injury since you’ll have to pay out of pocket for these expenses otherwise.
- What is covered? Like home or auto insurance, there are various levels of coverage and you’ll have to decide what you want and how much you’re willing to pay for it. For example, you might opt for a standard liability sort of policy that covers both passengers and property in the event of accident or injury. Or you may want more comprehensive coverage in case of vandalism, theft, salvage, or natural disaster, and that also pays out for any items of value on your boat. You can even pay for roadside assistance for your boat.
- Suspension. You might gripe about having to pay year-round for coverage when you only use your boat during the summer season, for example. But you’re not alone in this complaint, which is why many providers allow for suspension of the policy when your boat is safe and sound in dry dock or stored in your garage for the winter. Of course, suspending coverage means that you won’t be compensated if your boat is somehow damaged while in storage.
- International coverage. Unfortunately, you’re probably going to have to pay extra if you want to maintain insurance coverage when boating in international waters. This isn’t to say that you have to contact a Mexican or Canadian service if you want to tour the Pacific coastline, but you should check in with your provider to see if you need additional coverage when you head for foreign shores in your boat.