If you’re a boater, you know the joys of spending an afternoon out on the water, but you also know the costs that are inherent in the experience. Boating — whether you’re a commercial fisherman or have a family boat — is expensive. Although boat insurance isn’t a requirement in the U.S., it is a great idea to have a policy to cover your investment. Boat insurance can help pay for repairs and liability insurance if necessary.
Allstate: Best for low prices
One of the largest insurers in the country, Allstate has a presence in all 50 states, so you should be able to find an agent near you. The policies include, among other things, emergency service, trailer and uninsured watercraft coverage. The option for agreed value coverage allows you and your agent to set the value of the boat when you purchase the policy, so you’ll be paid a fair price in the event of a claim, regardless of the current market value of the boat.
Allstate’s prices are competitive, and they’re augmented by a handful of discounts that can bring your price down even more. Allstate says the average policy, in fact, is around $21 a month. You’ll save a generous 20 percent if you also buy homeowners insurance with the company, and there are discounts for full-pay, boat education and using the easy pay plan.
Amica: Best for customer service
Amica offers standard policies that include protection for your boat on land or water and towing if your boat is disabled. Although it’s not the cheapest option, some nice discounts — including for diesel boats and fire extinguisher systems — bring the price down. Some policies pay back dividends, so you can earn back a check each year on the anniversary of your policy.
Where Amica shines is in the customer service. The company routinely is number one in rankings by consumer advocacy organizations. J.D. Power, for example, doesn’t rate boat insurers, but Amica tops its listing for customer satisfaction for both auto and homeowner insurance.
State Farm: Best for optional coverages
Like Allstate, State Farm agents are easily available — there are 19,000 of them in the U.S. State Farm’s policies cover against all the standard perils including sinking, fire, storm damage and theft. Coverage is unusually generous and extends to life preservers, seat cushions and skis and tow ropes. All policies are on an agreed value basis, so your payout will be better than if depreciation was involved.
State Farm’s list of optional coverages, which allow you to customize your policy to meet your own circumstances, is likewise generous. It includes coverage for boat rental liability, boat rental reimbursement, coverage if you rent your boat to someone else, fishing tournament fees, uninsured/underinsured watercraft coverage and an extension of your property and liability insurance if you use your boat for incidental commercial fishing.
Markel: Best for large boats and yachts
Markel is a specialty insurer that focuses on writing policies other than the usual auto-life-homeowner policies favored by companies like State Farm and Allstate. Markel has experience in dealing with the needs of large boats over 26 feet in length. In addition to yachts, this provider is a good choice if you own a sizable sailboat, trawler, houseboat or sport fishing boat.
Markel’s policies include broad navigation limits, so it is a wise option if you like to travel farther from land than you might in a small boat. They waive your deductible on total losses, and there is no depreciation on partial losses. Policies also feature automatic tender coverage and even cover personal effects such as your smartphone or camera if they are on board during a mishap. Finally, your crew will also be covered if you have others on hand to manage your boat.
Nationwide: Best boat packages
Nationwide offers package deals designed to cover you based on the type of boating you do. These range from the Weekender package, which assumes you take your belongings with you when you leave your boat, to Overnighters, Light Tackle Anglers, and Deep Water Pros.
If you insure your boat trailer, roadside assistance is provided at no extra cost. Rental reimbursement is also available as an optional coverage, and there are also options to cover your personal effects while on your boat.
What is boat insurance?
Boat insurance is designed to protect that financial investment in the event of a mishap from a storm, theft or any of the other perils that can happen to watercraft.
Many regular insurers that specialize in auto, home and life insurance also offer policies for boats and other watercraft. Like those policies, you’ll pay a regular premium and be protected from a list of named perils for as long as the policy is in effect.
Although boat insurance isn’t required by law in the U.S., anyone who has spent the money to purchase a quality watercraft should consider a policy. Canoes, kayaks, rowboats and other small crafts probably don’t merit a policy, but anything larger or pricier does.
What does boat insurance normally cover?
Boat insurance is in some ways similar to auto insurance: it covers damage to your property — the boat and its contents — and liability coverage in case someone is injured while on your boat.
This type of insurance may include collision, which covers damages from an accident with another boat or object, and comprehensive, which covers damage from fire, theft or storms. There may also be coverage if you’re in an accident with another boat that does not have insurance and medical payments coverage if you or anyone on your boat is injured.
You will need to choose cash value or agreed value coverage:
- Cash value is generally cheaper to purchase, but it will only cover the current value of your boat on the market in the event of a claim. You may not be able to buy a comparable watercraft in the event of a total loss.
- Agreed value coverage allows you to assign a value to your boat when you purchase your policy, and that value remains in effect throughout the life of your policy. It does not take depreciation into account.
Common endorsements, or add-ons, include:
- Extra coverage for fishing equipment, if you are a serious angler with expensive fishing poles and other items
- On-water boat towing, which may or may not be included in your base policy
- Roadside assistance and trailer coverage, for those times when you are moving your boat from one place to another
- Professional haul-out, if your boat is in the path of a hurricane or other violent weather
- Extended protection, which may cover travel to the Bahamas, Mexico, or other locales beyond American waters
- You may also find endorsements for classic boats, performance boats, and other specialty watercraft, as well as for jet skis, houseboats, and other craft.
Should I bundle my boat insurance?
You should certainly consider bundling insurance, especially if you’re happy with your regular insurer. There are often discounts, usually around 10 percent, available from the underwriter of your auto, home or life policy if you bundle one of those with a boat policy.
We suggest you start your search for boat insurance by asking your current insurer for a quote, and then calling around to several of our other top insurers so you can compare costs and coverages.
Too long, didn’t read?
- Boat insurance isn’t mandatory, but if you’ve spent significant money on your boat and its contents, you’ll want to protect that investment with a boat policy.
- Many regular insurers also offer boat insurance, so there’s a chance you can bundle your boat policy with life, home or auto insurance.
- Boat policies cover damage to the vessel as well as its contents. Riders are available if you have a significant investment in fishing gear or other belongings.
- Boats larger than 26 feet are in their own category and require a policy suited for larger vessels.
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