September is here, which means summer is quickly coming to a close. You can get a few more boat rides in, but it’s about that time to start packing up your spring and summer toys for the season.
What changes about your boat insurance in the off-season when the boat is not in use? And how can you protect and store your boat away from the winter mayhem?
Winter boat insurance
Do you need boat insurance in the winter?
Although it’s optional, year-round boat insurance is highly recommended. It’s tempting to want to cancel your boat insurance when you’re not using your boat. But a lot can go wrong, even if you’re not out on the water. Fire, vandalism, theft, and winter storms can all create serious damage and financial strain. If you don’t have insurance in the winter, you won’t be covered for any winter-time calamity that hits your boat during the off-season. You’ll be on the hook for potentially exorbitant costs.
In some cases, you’re required to have winter coverage. For example, if you’re financing your boat or have a lease on your boat, your lender may require you hold year-round coverage.
Remember that your boat is a major investment, just like a house or car. You want to help protect your assets no matter whether they’re in use or not.
Does home insurance cover boats?
If your boat is on your property, your home insurance might cover it. However, some home insurers will only cover small boats, like a canoe or small sailboat. If you have a larger vessel, your home insurance might not offer enough coverage, even if you’re storing your boat on your home’s property.
Boat insurance usually covers collision, property damage, bodily injury, and comprehensive in the on- and off-season. You want to keep these in case something happens withy our boat. For example, a tree might fall on your boat during a winter storm, so boat collision insurance would step in. Your child’s friend could be playing on the boat and break their wrist, so bodily injury liability could help cover their hospital visit.
Even if your home insurance covers your boat in the off-season, it’s usually not enough to protect against more serious costs and accidents.
Can I lower my boat insurance costs?
Although it’s recommended to keep your boat insurance for the winter, it might make sense for you to drop some parts of your coverage or raise deductibles to save money for the time being. However, make sure you’re ready to revert to your original policy in the spring so you aren’t left lacking in coverage.
Keep in mind that some insurance companies reward you if you don’t cancel your insurance policy. That means holding year-round insurance could actually be less expensive than seasonal insurance.
The best way to minimize your boat insurance premiums is by taking care of your boat. Proving proper storage and safety measures can encourage your insurance agent to lower your boat insurance premiums for the offseason. Below are some tips that can help protect your boat—and your wallet—this winter.
Boat storage tips
1. Take it out of the water.
Even if you live somewhere where the water won’t freeze, you shouldn’t store your boat in the water during the off-season. The constant cold water against your boat can cause it to rust, wear down, and discolor. You’re also subjecting it to more elements, which can lead to holes, floods, animals, and other damage.
2. Find storage space.
If you have a large enough property, you might choose to keep your boat at home with you during the off-season. This could be in a garage or shed, or you can even purchase a portable shelter for your lawn or driveway. If you’re keeping your boat on your property, make sure you cover it with a weatherproof tarp to fight off the elements.
If you don’t have room on your property for your boat, you’re going to want to purchase a boat-specific storage space. We often recommend boat storage facilities anyway, because they have more advanced security measures to protect your boat from vandalism or theft. They also offer climate control, so your boat won’t freeze or crack with temperature changes.
3. Take note of the basics.
- Drain all of the old fuel. Stale or clogged fuel can damage the engine. Make sure there’s no water in the gas tank.
- Refill with new fuel or leave an empty gas tank.
- Invest in a trickle charger to make sure your battery stays “active” without being on.
- Take note of all safety equipment including lifejackets, flares, fire extinguishers, EPIRBs, GPS, and radios. Keep in mind that some equipment, like flares and fire extinguishers, have an expiration date.
- Look for damage and cracks along the boat, especially the hull.
4. Clean your boat.
Cleaning your boat before storage can help make sure that it doesn’t rust, corrode, or attract mold. Clean your boat as you usually would, and empty out any food, perishables, clothing, and removable equipment. Make sure you also clean the underside of the boat, which usually doesn’t see a lot of love during the summer months. Usually, a soft-bristle brush and marine soap will do the trick.
5. Rust proof.
After cleaning, make sure you cover with a well-fitted, weatherproof cover. This helps prevent from rust, which is common when saltwater on the boat means cold, wet conditions in the winter.
You can also weatherproof with rust solution, especially on exposed metal parts. This can help keep your boat fresh and new, so it’s ready when the spring season rolls around.
Some boat owners shrink wrap their boats. This basically puts a thin layer of waterproof film onto the boat’s surface, which helps protect against the elements.
6. Visit her monthly.
You want to pay your boat a visit once a month if possible. This can help you catch any potential problems early, before they become hazardous to your boat. Keep an eye out for rust or corrosion, mold, animals and nests, cracks, holes, water pooling, or other damage.
If you notice that something’s off, call an expert right away. The sooner you catch something, the less damage it will do—and the less it will cost you in repairs.
As long as you own a boat, you want to own boat insurance too. This helps protect your investment both on and off the water from unexpected mishaps. As the chill of winter gets ready to wreak havoc, it’s time to clean and store your boat in preparation for the season.
Don’t have adequate boat insurance? Not sure if your insurance covers the off-season? Looking for a better quote on your boat insurance?