Yes, I know it’s January. Yes, I know it’s 30 degrees out. Yes, I know that most boats are shrink-wrapped up tight for the winter. Just thought I’d think ahead to summer and all the good times to be had out on the water!
There are many costs associated with owning a boat: dock fees, general maintenance, and winter storage, just to name a few. One cost boat owners should never skimp on is purchasing the best available insurance policy for their watercraft.
Since buying a boat is a huge investment, owners should protect their boat with comprehensive insurance coverage. Plans are often based on the type and size of the boat. Many homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies provide limited coverage for property damage if the boat’s engine is less than 25 mph horsepower or if it is a small sailboat, but without additional insurance, no liability coverage is included.
Owners of larger, more powerful boats and yachts will need to purchase a separate insurance policy for their boat. The insurance company will take into account the size and type of boat, its value, and where the boat sails when drawing up the conditions and cost of the policy. Separate boat and watercraft insurance policies provide much more coverage to the owner. These policies generally include loss and damage coverage to the boat’s hull, machinery, furnishings, fittings, and any permanently attached equipment, like a navigation system. Liability coverage is extended to:
- Bodily injury to other persons
- Damage to other’s property
- Legal expenses associated with non-consensual operation of the boat
- Medical costs for injuries to the owner and passengers
- Boat theft
Policyholders can choose the liability limits and deductibles of their plan. Of course, policies can be individualized based on the boat owner’s needs. Other endorsements and coverage can be added to the policy to cover the boat’s trailer, fishing gear kept aboard the boat, and any other accessories. Also, make sure to ask whether or not the policy covers the boat while it is being towed.
Just as car insurance providers offer discounts to their policyholders, discounts for watercraft policies apply in certain cases. For example, insurance companies favor diesel-powered engines over gasoline ones because diesel fuel is more stable, making the engine safer to operate.
Other discounts are related to safety equipment kept on the boat. Having items like fire extinguishers approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and ship-to-shore radio equipment could reduce the amount of the premium. Also, completing a boater’s safety course offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the American Red Cross, or the U.S. Power Squadrons can gain some favor with the insurance company.
A solid insurance policy gives boaters the peace of mind needed to set sail and enjoy the open waters. Nothing is more relaxing than knowing your investment is covered.