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*Average rates are from Progressive, based on 2020 and 2021 boat insurance data.
Factors Influencing Cost
Besides the insurance company you work with, there are a few other key factors that impact how much your boat insurance is per year. Knowing these can help you predict your boat insurance cost and identify discount opportunities.
- Location: Where you live and keep your boat is one of the top factors influencing costs. Some states like Alabama, New York, and Florida, are considerably more expensive than inland states like Arkansas and Wisconsin.
- Type of watercraft: Insurers have different rates for different types of watercraft like fishing boats, motorboats, pontoon boats, and sailboats. In general, the more expensive the watercraft, the more expensive the boat insurance. Jet skis are a separate category, too.
- Your boat’s age: New boats are more valuable than older boats. As a result, they cost more to insure because the damage would be more expensive to repair or the boat more expensive to replace.
- Your boat’s horsepower: High-horsepower boats tend to have higher premiums than boats with less horsepower.
- Your boating history: Insurers will consider how long you’ve been boating. The more experience you have, the lower your rates. They also consider whether you’ve had any past boating accidents. Those would increase your premium.
- Your driving record: Insurers may also look at your car driving record while calculating your policy premium. People who are safe drivers tend to be safe boaters, so they pay less.
- Whether you’ve taken safety measures: Insurers give discounts if you take safety measures for your boat, like installing an automatic fire suppression system or Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). You could also qualify for a discount for passing an approved boat safety course recognized by the Coast Guard.
Top Five Boat Insurance Companies
Best for Fishermen: Markel
Whether you fish commercially, in tournaments, or just for fun, Markel provides policies tailored to your needs. It provides extra coverage for fishing equipment and professional angler liability on top of its coverage for standard boat insurance.
Best Value: Allstate
Allstate does an excellent job offering quality boat insurance that is also competitively priced. Its plans include comprehensive coverage amounts for property damage, medical injuries while boating, and liability. Its plans start at $25 per month and offer numerous ways to get discounts. If you need help planning your insurance, Allstate offers a large library of online materials and support from local agents.
Best for Cheap Boat Insurance: Progressive
If you’re trying to get the lowest price on your boat insurance, Progressive may be a good choice. It advertises rates as low as $100 per year ($8.33 per month) and offers multiple discounts. A downside is that Progressive only covers boats up to 35 feet in hurricane areas.
Best for Policy Bundling: Nationwide
Insurance companies tend to give you a discount if you buy multiple types of insurance from one insurer. Nationwide offers bundle discounts if you combine your boat insurance with Nationwide home, auto, or life insurance policies. Nationwide also offers other discounts to help you save money, such as covering multiple boats at once and taking a boating safety course.
Most Customizable Coverage: Foremost
If you have a unique watercraft or special needs for your insurance, Foremost offers the most customizable coverage. It offers Saver, Plus, and Elite Packages, each with increasing levels of coverage. It also offers coverage for specific watercraft such as fishing boats, performance boats, cruisers, and pontoons.
How To Save Money on Boat Insurance
- Only get the coverage you need: Consider how you use your boat, and make sure the insurance policy isn’t offering coverage you don’t need. For example, if you store your boat in the winter, you may not need insurance during those months. If you only use your boat in lakes and streams, see whether you could get a reduced rate based on your limited use.
- Bundle insurance policies: Insurers offer discounts if you buy multiple lines of insurance from them. If you buy your boat insurance from the same company that you have car, home, and/or life insurance with, you could potentially save on all of them.
- Shop around: Before buying a boat insurance policy, collect quotes from a few different companies. You might find that one insurer offers a better deal than others.
- Ask about discounts: Insurers offer different discounts. For example, discounts may be given for enrolling in automatic payments, covering multiple boats at once, storing your boat during the winter, and going a certain number of years without an accident or watercraft violation.
- Invest in safety: Insurance companies offer discounts if you show you’ve got the right safety equipment on your boat like life jackets, life rafts, fire extinguishers, EPIRBs, and visual and sound signaling devices. They may also give you a discount if you take a boat safety course.
- Increase your deductible: The deductible is what you pay out-of-pocket before your boat insurance covers damages. By increasing the deductible, you lower the premium. Just make sure you have enough savings to cover the deductible should you need to pay it.
- Don’t file claims for minor damage: If you have a minor accident, consider paying for damages out-of-pocket instead of using your insurance. Long-term, you could come out since your insurer may raise your premium once you’ve filed a claim.
How to Choose the Best Boat Insurance
Consider Your Boating Needs
The right boat insurance company depends on how you use your boat. What kind of boat do you have? Do you go out on the ocean or on inland lakes? Do you fish and have fishing equipment? Do you live on the boat? If you meet with an insurance agent in person or call the insurer, be sure to provide all the relevant information so you can get the best boat insurance for your needs.
Understand Different Boat Insurance Types
There are different types of boat insurance coverage, just like there are different types of auto insurance coverage. Here are a few you’ll likely encounter as you look for a boat insurance policy:
- Property insurance: Covers damage and repairs to your own boat after an accident. It also covers theft. Additionally, property coverage typically protects your boat when it’s on land, too.
- Liability insurance: Covers damage you cause to others from an accident that was your fault.
- Medical payments insurance: Can help pay for medical bills If you or your passengers are injured in a boat accident.
- Uninsured watercraft coverage: Can help pay for repairs if another boater damages your watercraft and doesn’t have insurance.
You could save money by forgoing some of this protection, provided you are comfortable covering the cost of damage yourself. For example, if your boat is less expensive, you may only take out liability to cover damage to others and take on the risk of paying out-of-pocket to repair your boat after an accident.
Compare Multiple Quotes
Each boat insurance company has pros and cons. Collecting quotes can help you measure what value you’re getting from each insurer. You may find that one insurer offers a much lower cost for boat insurance than others while providing a similar level of coverage. Some companies also offer an online boat insurance cost calculator to give you a rough estimate of what their policies cost.
Read Through the Policy’s Fine Print
Each boat insurance policy has specific rules and restrictions. Make sure you understand how the policy will pay to repair damages to your boat. For example, an actual cash value (ACV) policy pays based on what your boat is worth on the date of an accident. An agreed-value policy pays a set amount you and the insurer agree on—the amount is the same even if your boat has fallen in value by the time of the accident.
You should also see what kind of restrictions are in your policy. For example, are you prohibited from heading outside certain geographic boundaries or using your boat in a competition?
Speak With an Insurance Expert
For more help navigating boat insurance policies, meet with an insurance agent. Another option is to contact an insurance broker. A broker sells policies from multiple insurers, and can help you compare how much boat insurance is at different companies.
What Does Boat Insurance Cover?
Liability boat insurance covers damage to your own watercraft as well as theft. If you cause an accident, it could also cover the damage caused to the other person. What a boat insurance policy covers specifically depends on the contract terms.
Do I Need Boat Insurance?
Yes, you probably need boat insurance if you own a boat. While your homeowners insurance policy may offer some coverage for boat damage and theft, the typical coverage maxes out at $1,500, and the policy won’t cover accidents on the water. You may need extra boat insurance if don’t want to pay out-of-pocket for repairs. At the very least, consider a liability policy to cover damage you may cause to others during an accident.
Is Boat Insurance Required?
Most states do not require boat insurance. However, if you keep your boat at a marina, the marina may require it. If you took out a loan to buy your boat, the lender likely will ask you to buy insurance.
What Does Boat Insurance Not Cover?
Boat insurance generally does not cover maintenance or damage from normal wear and tear. Boat insurance also usually does not cover damage from insects, mold, or animals. Your boat insurance policy should specifically say what it does not cover.
Does Boat Insurance Cover Hurricane Damage?
A typical policy would cover damage to your boat from the wind and hail from a hurricane. If your boat ends up damaging someone else’s property because of the storm, boat insurance liability protection would cover that, too. Be sure to check your policy specifics, though, to make sure it covers hurricane damage.
Clinton Mora is a reporter for Trending Insurance News. He has previously worked for the Forbes. As a contributor to Trending Insurance News, Clinton covers emerging a wide range of property and casualty insurance related stories.