For many boaters, winter’s arrival is especially sad. Winter means boating season has long ended and it will be months before your boat goes back on the water. For most of the country, the winter weather makes boating too dangerous.
Even if your boat isn’t in the water during winter, it isn’t guaranteed that it will be safe from all of winter’s perils. If your boat can be damaged, it’s wise to think about your boat insurance. Here are some tips for keeping your boat safe and properly insured during the wintertime.
Wintertime and your Boat Insurance
Freezing cold temperatures can wreak havoc on your boat, much like your home or car. Depending on the size and features of your boat, there are steps you should take to prevent freezing on board.
You should store your boat in a climate-controlled area and have it wrapped and out of the water for winter, to help avoid damage. Drain all lines on your boat and add antifreeze as necessary. This is essential for avoiding damage from freezing.
During any season, moisture can cause mildew or mold on your boat. Making sure your boat is dry or installing a dehumidfier will help to keep your boat dry and mildew-free.
This checklist can help you prepare for the colder season by outlining the steps necessary to winterize your boat, as can this comprehensive list from Discover Boating. If you don’t take steps to properly maintain your boat during the winter season, your insurer may find grounds to deny any claims resulting from damage due to negligence.
Boats that are out of the water (especially those on trailers) are easy targets for theft. According to Allstate, in 2015 there were more than 2,700 watercraft thefts in the off-season, between the months of January and April and September and December.
Securing your boat while it’s out of the water can help prevent boat thefts. If you don’t keep your boat in a locked storage facility, either at the marina or in your garage, there are steps you can take to better secure your boat during winter. If your boat is in your yard, keep it out of sight from the street. If you have your boat on a trailer, remove one wheel and park it facing in, not out. You can find more tips from Markel Insurance here.
Because you’re not using your boat in the wintertime, you may think you don’t need insurance coverage. As we reviewed above, wintertime isn’t risk-free and you could benefit from carrying boat insurance even when your boat is out of the water. According to Auto Insurance Express, 20% of all boat claims are filed during the period from Labor Day to Memorial Day. There’s a fairly high chance you could want coverage this winter.
Using your boat less may mean you can save on your insurance during the winter months. Ask your insurance agent about a lay-up policy for your boat. Similar to a lay-up policy for your motorcycle, this policy reduces your coverage often to just liability and comprehensive coverage. Adjusting your coverage and deductible levels can be a great way to save when you’re not getting use out of your boat. Your insurance agent will be able to speak to your options in greater detail, and can help advise if you’re going too far with cuts.
Just because your boat is out of the water doesn’t mean there are risks that could damage your boat. While you lament the off-season, don’t give yourself reason to lament repair bills or the need to replace your boat. Talk with your insurance agent about your options to save in the off-season and make sure your boat is secure.