Most homeowners’ coverage won’t cover your boat while in the water, especially larger and more expensive boats. If you want to protect your boat and your wallet this summer, you need additional boat insurance.

But boat insurance is optional and flexible. You can opt into different types of coverage depending on what you think you need in order to be fully protected.

What are the types of boat coverage to consider, and how do you know which is best for you?

Liability insurance

Watercraft liability insurance protects you in the case that you are found at-fault for an accident. If you are responsible for a boating incident, you could be held responsible for the other party’s associated expenses for injury or damage.

Bodily injury liability will pay for the other party’s expenses if they are injured. This can include medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of income, and pain and suffering. Without insurance, you’re responsible for these exorbitant costs, which could end up cutting into your own personal assets. 

Property damage liability pays for damage to another person’s vehicle or property if you cause an accident. This could pay for the repair or replacement of their boat or another object that was damaged, like their dock or pier. This may also include pollution liability coverage or wreckage removal if their boat sinks or causes damage to the body of water.

Watercraft liability coverage will usually include both bodily injury and property damage.

Medical payments coverage

Medical payments will help pay for your own medical costs or related expenses if you or anyone on your boat is injured in an accident. This will cover your expenses regardless of who is found at fault.

Medical payments insurance covers any of your personal expenses that come from the injury due to the boating accident. This can include hospital bills, surgeries, X-rays, dental, pharmaceuticals, and nursing services.

Property damage coverage

This coverage can help pay for any damage to your own boat, regardless of who is at fault.

Collision coverage pays for damage that’s caused due to a collision with another boat or object (regardless of fault). Comprehensive coverage pays for damage from losses other than collision like fire, natural disasters, storms, theft, vandalism, and animals.

While you typically have to opt in to both collision and comprehensive with auto insurance, watercraft property damage coverage will usually include both forms.

Uninsured/underinsured coverage

This coverage will help pay for your own costs—medical and property—if you are in an accident with an uninsured boater. A number of boat owners unwisely don’t have boat insurance, so you could be on the hook for your own costs if you get into an accident with someone who is uninsured.

For example, another person rams into your boat with their boat. They are uninsured. If they don’t have insurance, you’ll have to go after them personally (as opposed to contacting their insurance company). You could sue them for damages, but going to trial could be a lengthy and expensive process. Your uninsured/underinsured coverage would help pay for your medical expenses or property repairs while waiting for a trial decision.

This coverage usually works in conjunction with medical payments coverage and collision property damage. If you have high limits in those other policies, you may not need an additional uninsured policy.

Emergency services coverage

Emergency services will pay for reasonable cost of towing, mechanical labor, and medical services if your boat breaks down in the water. This is like “roadside assistance coverage” for your boat.

We recommend that all boat owners have emergency services coverage. Carry emergency contacts on your boat with you at all time so you can quickly access help if need be.

Boat equipment coverage

This policy covers those items that are boat-specific but not part of the boat itself. These are often accessories or additional equipment like anchors, life jackets, and navigation gear. This is an especially important optional coverage if you have expensive navigation GPS systems or boat modifications.

Personal effects coverage

Personal effects insurance covers any personal belongings on your boat that is not specifically boat equipment. This includes fishing equipment, which can often be considered its own policy as “fishing equipment coverage.”

Repair cost endorsement coverage

A repair cost endorsement provides additional limits for your boat, motor, or equipment. If your policies have low limits, this separate endorsement will help cover more of your costs for your own property damage.

Do I need boating coverage?

We often get asked if boating policies are necessary, especially if your boat is not that expensive. All of the above coverage policies are optional, but they’re highly recommended.

We always suggest boat insurance for anyone who owns or rents a boat. The greatest cost may not be the boat itself but of the liability associated with operating it.

You may not need coverage if you have small or inexpensive boats like canoes or engineless crafts. For all other boats, you want to at least consider liability to protect yourself from major costs while out on the water.

The most common are watercraft liability, property damage, and medical payments, because these protect you in the case of serious incidents. It’s also important that you’re covered in case of an emergency with emergency services coverage.

If you’re concerned about the cost of boat insurance, consider looking into  boating discounts. Some insurance companies will offer discounts for the following reasons:

  • Bundling policies
  • Passing certified boating safety courses
  • Two years without boating claims
  • Coast Guard approved fire extinguishers
  • Diesel-powered boats

Not sure which boat insurance coverage you need?

Work with an InsuraMatch agent to find your perfect boating insurance match today! We look forward to protecting you and your boat for all your summer fun!