Getting out on the water is always the highlight of my summer. Needless to say, my boat is an important investment, and one I want to protect. So I made sure to find a policy that both meets my needs and offers good boat insurance rates.
Know Your Options
The secret to getting the right insurance package is knowing what you’re looking for and understanding your options.
According to Allstate, 40% of boat owners don’t have proper marine insurance policies in place. Many boaters mistakenly assume that they’re covered by their homeowner or auto insurance policies, but those typically don’t cover physical damage, liability or theft when your boat’s on the water.
Boat insurance is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Rates vary depending on which company you choose and what type of boat you own, so it’s a good idea to shop around.
While you’re looking into boat insurance rates, here are a few things to consider:
- The size of your boat. If your engine is greater than 25hp, then your homeowner’s liability insurance does not likely extend to your activities on the water. And if your boat is 27ft or longer, you are looking for yacht insurance, not boat insurance, and will want to seek out a more specialized policy.
- How you use your boat. If you love pulling water skiers or tubers, or carrying lots of passengers, you should have good liability coverage.
- How far you travel on the water. If you live on a big lake or go on a lot of long trips, you’ll need a policy that includes emergency towing; otherwise, a breakdown far from shore could be costly.
- Where you dock your boat between seasons. If you tow it to the cottage, make sure your policy covers damage to your boat and trailer on the road, in case of an accident en route.
- What you store in your boat. If it’s full of expensive accessories, like downriggers, sonar, fish finders, fishing roads and tackle, trolling motor, GPS, etc., you should make sure that your physical damage coverage protects your boat’s contents, as well as the boat itself.
Agreed-Value vs. Actual Cash Value
Whatever the terms of your coverage, it’s a good idea to look for agreed-value policies rather than actual cash value policies. In the event of loss or damage to your boat, agreed-value policies cover the boat at the value you and your insurer agree upon, without depreciation. Actual cash value policies, on the other hand, only pay up to the actual cash value at the time you make your claim. Agreed-value policies may have slightly higher boat insurance rates, but they usually lead to better compensation after a loss.
Reduce Your Rates
In the U.S., most boat insurance coverage amounts to less than a dollar a day, with the average premium about $275 per year. Not a bad deal for knowing you’re covered! Still, there are ways to further reduce your boat insurance premiums.
- Take an online boating safety course. Many insurance companies offer discounts to owners who have successfully passed recognized boating courses. Allstate, for example, will offer a 5% discount for taking an approved safe boating course. Talk to your broker to find out which courses are recognized and what discounts are available.
- Combine boat insurance with your homeowner or auto insurance company. Some companies offer multi-policy discounts, which can be a good idea, particularly for smaller boats requiring less specialized coverage. Just make sure it’s the right coverage for you, as such policies may limit certain marine-related risks, like salvage work, wreck removal, pollution or environmental damage. Check with your home insurance provider first, and then talk to a marine insurance specialist to compare notes.
With a little groundwork, you can find a policy that combines low boat insurance rates with the coverage you need. Smooth sailing here we come!
[Photo: Artur Staszweski]