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Do You Need Boat Insurance in Winter?

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 | October 22, 2020

“Do I really need boat insurance in winter? Isn’t it pointless?” Just because you’re not using your boat in the winter months doesn’t mean you and your boat are “safe” from incidents, liability, and expenses. We know you might be tempted to cancel your boat insurance policy to save money for the season, but doing so can put your boat, your finances, and your future ability to get insurance at risk.

Even if your boat isn’t moving, you’re at risk of theft, vandalism, fire, “acts of God,” winter storm damage, and other potential incidents. If you don’t keep your boat insurance for the winter, you won’t have that protection against any possible incidents, and you would be responsible to pay for all of the incurred damages out of pocket. If your boat were stolen or totaled in a fire, you would essentially be “out” the cost of your entire boat.

In this article, we’ll go through the reasons you should keep your boat insurance in winter as well as some tips and tricks to reduce your boat insurance costs while maintaining comprehensive protection.

Why do you need boat insurance in winter?

  1. Your boat is vulnerable to theft.
  2. Your boat is vulnerable to damage.
  3. You could still be liable.
  4. Lapses in coverage can make future coverage more expensive.
  5. Your homeowners insurance probably won’t cover everything.
  6. Lenders often require year-round boat insurance.

Note: We don’t recommend “pausing” your insurance either, because that is essentially canceling it for the season. Although it may not cause a lapse in coverage, you would still be responsible for any damages that occur during the winter season.

Your boat is vulnerable to theft.

Theft and vandalism are the biggest concerns when your boat is in storage, especially if you store your boat on your property. Thieves can be smart and people often don’t check in on their boat frequently during the winter, so your boat could go missing and you might not realize until it’s too late. No matter where you live, the risk of theft or vandalism is there.

If you don’t have boat insurance during the winter and your boat is stolen, you won’t get paid a dime to replace that boat. If you’re like most people and you saved up to buy the boat of your dreams, this can be absolutely detrimental—both physically and emotionally.

Check out some interesting facts about boat thefts by Boat U.S.

Your boat is vulnerable to damage.

People wrongly assume that if you’re not using your boat, it can’t get damaged. But that’s not the case. You may not have any liability or risk of collision out on the water, but there are still a lot of incidents that can cause damage to your boat. In the winter months, aside from theft/vandalism, the majority of claims are due to fire and flooding. There’s never an “off season” for natural disasters, so you want to make sure your boat still has extensive comprehensive coverage. If there’s a fire on your property, a tree falls on your shed, or your boat storage facility gets destroyed in a hurricane, you need boat insurance to help reimburse your costs.

Double check that your boat insurance covers flooding as well. Flooding—often due to melting snow or broken water pipes—is one of the biggest claims we see for boating insurance in winter. If your boat insurance doesn’t include flooding, work with your flood insurance agent to get your boat and other assets covered under your flood insurance policy.

What else does your boat insurance not include? Check out these common boat insurance exclusions.

You could still be liable.

Sure, you’re not out on the water, so your boating liability seems nonexistent. But what if some neighborhood kids decide to throw a secret party on your boat (without your knowledge) and one of them falls and breaks an ankle?  You could be liable for their injuries, even if they were there illegally and without your knowledge. Or what if flooding causes your boat to float away and then your boat crashes into someone’s house? You could be found liable for those damages. That’s why we don’t recommend cancelling or removing your liability insurance for the winter.  

Lapses in coverage can make future coverage more expensive.

If you cancel your coverage, your insurance company will evaluate that lapse as a “higher risk” moving forward. You may not be able to purchase a policy from the same insurance carrier for a period of time, so you may be stuck without your policy for summertime too. Additionally, some companies require you to have been previously insured (often for at least six months) before they’ll even consider writing a policy, unless it’s a new boat. Furthermore, when you go to purchase boat insurance again, these carriers will likely raise your premiums to reflect this lapse. You want to avoid lapses in coverage that can spike your insurance costs.

Plus, a lot of insurance providers will reward policyholders for loyalty and a history of no or few claims. If you cancel your insurance every winter, you’ll never rack up the loyalty discounts that can contribute to long-term savings.

If you cancel boat insurance in winter, may end up paying more in the long-term than if you’d just kept the policy in effect.

Your homeowners insurance probably won’t cover everything.

Homeowners insurance can sort of covers boats, so a lot of people think their homeowners’ policy will be enough to cover their boat during the winter months. In most cases, home insurance covers minimal limits, if anything. Most homeowners insurance will not cover a pleasure boat, power boats, large sailboats, and yachts. They typically only cover small boats and low-powered vessels like kayaks, canoes, and small sailboats, and they usually don’t have limits higher than $1,000. So it doesn’t really cover boats, unless it’s a small recreational craft.

Boat insurance, on the other hand, includes liability (bodily injury and property damage), collision, comprehensive, and more. You will almost never get this level of coverage through your homeowners’ insurance.

Do you have enough boat insurance?

Lenders often require year-round boat insurance.

If you are financing your boat, your lender will usually require you to have an active insurance policy year-round, including in the winter months. This is how the lender protects their investment.  Along with lenders, if you keep your boat in a storage unit or at a marina, these facilities may also require boat insurance.

How to reduce boat insurance costs

You don’t want to cancel your boat coverage for the season, but there are still ways to save on your annual costs.

  • Find a safe, secure storage locker for your boat. If you show your insurer that you have a safe place for your boat for the winter, you may be able to get a safety discount. We recommend a boat storage facility because they usually have measures in place to prevent theft and damages as best as possible. If you don’t have access to a boat storage facility, purchase a portable shelter for your lawn or driveway so you can hide your boat away from the elements and prying eyes.
  • Ask your insurer if they offer seasonal policies (“layup” policies) for boat insurance in winter. Some insurance carriers have reduced coverage options and costs for the winter. However, make sure you’re still getting adequate coverage to protect your boat, family, and assets.
  • Take a boating safety course. You may be able to get a discount on your insurance by proving you’re a safe and experienced boater.
  • Take your boat out of the water for the winter. Leaving it in the water can lead to serious damages that your insurance company won’t pay for.
  • Learn how to safely store your boat for the winter here.
  • Know the ins and outs of boat insurance. Knowledge is power.
  • Bundle your boat with other insurance policies, like home and auto. Bundling is one of the best ways to save on your insurance costs.

The best way to lower your costs for boat insurance in winter is to shop around. By comparing insurance quotes, you can make sure you’re getting the best possible coverage at the lowest price.

Chat with an InsuraMatch agent at (844) 300-3294 to start comparing quotes. We’ll make sure you’re covered with boat insurance in winter and summer, so you can always have peace of mind. Let us help you find the perfect policy—at the right price—so you can rest easing knowing you have protection for your boat, family, and assets. We’re excited to hear from you!


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