Coming from a long line of boaters, there has always been a debate over boat insurance. While it is not required by any state to have insurance on your boat, it can still be a valuable practice. A boat is an asset. In some cases, a very valuable asset. You need to make sure you and your property is protected. Every angler should take some time to compare boat insurance needs. These are the steps I went through with determining if boat insurance was a need for me or if I could put the money towards more fishing gear.
What is boat insurance actually for?
Boat insurance works in a very similar manner to car insurance. What it will cover depends on the policy you get. Hull insurance covers the basic structure of the boat along with the mechanical workings of the boat, like the engines. Some companies will also cover your fishing equipment, which can be beneficial for more expensive items like fish finders or down riggers. This also covers salvage costs if your boat unfortunately happens to end up on the bottom of the lake.
Liability insurance covers damage that your boat may cause to other boats or property and also personal injuries cause by the boat. I have always seen fishing as a safe hobby, but I have also been raised to be cautious around boats. Not everyone shares that unfortunately, so I saw liability insurance as a way to protect myself from what other people might do around my boat in case an injury may occur.
Doesn’t my homeowners’ policy cover this?
Some do and some don’t. My homeowners’ policy didn’t have my boats listed on it specifically, so I gave my agent a call. He explained that it works like property so if it gets stolen or if my equipment gets stolen it is covered, but that was about it. I recommend checking with your agent to see what they will actually cover.
When will I actually need boat insurance?
There are pretty must two reasons that you will need boat insurance, when something bad happens or your marina requires it. There is really no way to predict when something bad will happen, but there is an option from being in a state of constant fear, evaluate your boating circumstances.
For example, one of my boats is kept at a private dock eight months out of the year. The surrounding neighbors are all older and rarely go on my pier. The lake this boat is not over crowded and has a no ski or jet ski policy. I am the one who takes the boat in and out of the water and I store it at my residence. I do not feel like this boat is at a high risk for getting damaged or there being any injuries related to the boat.
My other boat is larger and kept at a crowded semi-public dock on Lake Michigan. The pier is shared by about 30 other people of all ages, some with children and grandchildren who like to run around. The marina takes the boat in and out of the water and stores it there. This seemed like more of a risky environment for my boat. This is a circumstance boat insurance was designed for.
My marina does not require boat insurance, but many of them do. When renting a slip, providing proof of boat insurance can be required upfront. It may seem annoying, but it really is in the best interest of everyone involved from the boat owners to the marina.
What benefits are there?
The benefits, aside from having the actual boat insurance that is, vary by insurance provider. I looked into a policy from my home and auto insurance company. They were willing to give me a bit of a discount on my other policies, but nothing substantial. I found that companies that specialize in boat insurance had a few more perks to offer. The major benefit that I found was a tow service and emergency response. You don’t plan to run out of gas or the main engine and backup engine to decide not to work at the same time, but it could happen.
Is the cost worth it?
I decided yes and I decided no. For my larger boat, it was worth it. For the smaller one, not so much. You really need to evaluate your situation to see what is best for you and your boat. There are some discounts available if you are willing to take safe boating courses or if you insure multiple boats, so they are worth a look as well. You need to compare boat insurance prices through multiple avenues to ensure that you are getting the coverage that is most appropriate for your situation.
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