Understanding Watercraft Insurance: What You Need to Know
June 26, 2024 7 minute read

As the weather warms up, many of us are eager to enjoy time on our boats or jet skis. But before you head out, it's important to think about protecting yourself and your watercraft. Did you know that in 2023, there were almost 4,000 boating accidents in the U.S., resulting in $63 million worth of damage? With such risks, having watercraft insurance is essential to keep you and your investment safe.

So, what is watercraft insurance?

Watercraft insurance is like car insurance, but for your boat or personal watercraft (PWC). It covers a variety of risks, ensuring that you can enjoy your time on the water without worrying about unexpected expenses.

In some cases, a homeowners insurance policy will cover a boat, but if it is of a certain size and value (which is often the case), your homeowner’s insurance is not enough.

Without adequate watercraft coverage, you could be stuck with a large out-of-pocket cost for damages to your boat, damages your boat causes, or injury liability.

Do I need watercraft insurance?

While watercraft insurance is not required for boats in Maine or New Hampshire, there are several reasons you should consider it.

For one, if you finance your watercraft, your lender will most likely require it. Also, if you keep your boat in a marina, the marina may also require you to have it.

If you do not finance your boat and aren’t subject to marina rules, choosing whether to buy coverage is up to you, but we usually recommend it because the protection is worth the cost.

If your boat is inexpensive or has depreciated significantly and you are comfortable paying to repair or replace it, you might not need a policy for physical damage. But you probably should still get one for the liability coverage, so you won’t have to pay others if you cause an accident.

What kinds of watercraft insurance exist?

Here are some common types of watercraft insurance:

Liability Insurance: If you accidentally cause injury or damage while operating your boat, liability coverage can help protect you from financial stress. This type of coverage can help with medical bills and legal fees.

Collision Insurance: Collision insurance pays for repairs or the replacement of your boat if it is damaged in a collision with another boat or an object, such as a dock or buoy. This coverage ensures that you can fix your boat without paying the full cost out of pocket.

Comprehensive Insurance: Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your boat from non-collision events, such as theft, fire, vandalism, or natural disasters. This type of insurance provides peace of mind by protecting your boat against a wide range of potential threats.

Uninsured/Underinsured Boater Insurance: This coverage comes into play if you are involved in an accident with a boater who has insufficient or no insurance. It helps cover your medical expenses and repair costs, so you are not left financially vulnerable.

Medical Payments Coverage: Medical payments coverage pays for medical expenses incurred by you and your passengers in the event of a boating accident. This can include hospital bills, doctor’s visits, and other necessary medical treatments.

Personal Effects Coverage: Personal effects coverage protects the personal items you bring on your boat, such as fishing equipment, electronics, and clothing. If these items are lost or damaged, this insurance helps cover the cost of replacement or repair.

Towing and Assistance Coverage: This type of insurance covers the cost of towing your boat if it becomes disabled and needs assistance. It can also include other services like fuel delivery and jump-starts, ensuring you are not stranded on the water.

Fuel Spill Liability: Fuel spill liability insurance provides coverage for the cleanup costs associated with an accidental fuel spill from your boat. This coverage helps you comply with environmental regulations and avoid hefty fines.

What types of watercraft are covered?

Watercraft insurance isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Different policies cater to different types of watercraft including:

Motorboats: From small fishing boats to larger yachts, these vessels often require comprehensive coverage due to their high value and potential repair costs.

Sailboats: Coverage can vary based on the size and type of sailboat but generally includes protection for sails, rigging, and auxiliary engines.

Personal Watercraft (PWC): Jet skis, WaveRunners, and similar vehicles are typically covered under specialized PWC policies that account for their unique risks.

Non-Motorized Boats: Canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards can also be insured, though coverage may differ based on the value and usage of the vessel.

Choosing the Right Policy

Watercraft insurance is a crucial investment for anyone who owns a boat or personal watercraft. It not only provides financial protection but also peace of mind, allowing you to fully enjoy your time on the water. By understanding the different types of coverage available and selecting a policy that fits your specific needs, you can ensure smooth sailing for all your aquatic adventures.

And as we mentioned, a small portion of your boat could be covered by your homeowner’s insurance, so it may also be the right time to review all your personal insurance policies to make sure you’re covered in all areas, on and off the water.

At Chalmers Insurance Group, we’re here to help you find the best watercraft insurance policy for your lifestyle. Contact us today to learn more and get started on securing your watercraft’s future.

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