Just like you protect your car with auto insurance, you need to protect your boat with boat insurance. In addition to protecting your boat itself, boat insurance can also help you avoid having to pay for other people’s damages if you cause an accident as well as other expenses you face after a boating mishap.
Do You Have to Have Boat Insurance?
Wisconsin doesn’t require boat insurance by law unless you’re engaged in commercial fishing. Private marinas, boat ramps, or docks may impose their own insurance requirements. Also, if you take your boat outside of Wisconsin, you may need insurance to comply with local laws.
Why is Boat Insurance a Good Idea?
Even if you have no requirement to carry boat insurance, it’s still a good idea. First, think about how much you spent on buying your boat, and fit it with equipment. Would you want that much money to literally sink to the bottom of a lake or river? Second, injuries from a boat accident can be just as serious or even worse than injuries from a car accident. You wouldn’t want to pay those medical bills out of pocket even if you could afford to.
Does Your Home Insurance Cover Your Boat?
Home insurance may protect boats in limited circumstances. This would most likely apply to a kayak or a Jon boat with a small engine. Your home insurance may have restrictions on the value of the boat, the size of the boat, and the horsepower of the engine. It may also depend on whether you launch the boat from your own waterfront property or drive it somewhere else. Even if there is some coverage for your boat, it may not be up to the full limits of your home insurance policy. Check your specific policy or ask your insurance agent for details.
What Does Boat Insurance Cover?
Each boat insurance policy is customized to your needs. You can choose from the following common coverages.
Liability protection covers you for injuries you cause to other people or damage you cause to boats or other property if you’re at fault for an accident while boating. Liability protection is especially important when you have a high-speed boat with a greater risk of being in a serious accident.
Damage to Your Boat
You can also buy protection for your boat, similar to collision and comprehensive on your car. If you run into something, get swamped and sink, have your boat damaged in towing or storage or have your boat stolen, your boat insurance will protect you. See your specific policy for details.
When you add damage protection, you may have the option for full replacement cost. Full replacement cost allows you to go out and buy a new boat of the same type that you lost. If you don’t select this option, you may only receive the depreciated value of your boat, and this may not be enough to buy a replacement boat if you weren’t already saving for a new boat.
Having your boat break down or run out of gas in the water can leave you even more stranded than if the same thing happened in your car. On the water towing and other assistance is also typically much more expensive. Adding towing assistance to your boat insurance policy gets you the help you need when you need it and, in most cases, at no additional charge.
Wreckage and Spill Removal
If you lose your boat to an accident, you can’t just abandon it in the water. Laws designed to avoid navigational and environmental hazards require you to remove it at your expense, or you may face hefty fines on top of the removal costs. With this option, your boat insurance will take care of any mandatory salvage operations.
Are There Different Kinds of Boat Insurance Policies?
In addition to the coverage options above, some insurance companies may have different types of policies for different types of boats. This is mainly to match your needs to your boat, and they all work similarly. You may see different types of policies for boats, jet boats, personal watercraft, yachts, sailboats, pontoon boats, fishing boats, and more. If you prefer to rent a boat or are a member of a boat club, you can also get a policy that covers your liability as well as any responsibility you have for the boat.
Some activities, such as fishing tournaments for prizes, commercial fishing, or other business activities may require a specialized policy.
How Much Does Boat Insurance Cost?
Boat insurance costs vary based on several factors. These include your location, the type of boat you have, the age of your boat, your claims history, and your boating history. Where you plan to use your boat, such as local waters versus international travel, can also affect your rates. Some insurance companies may offer discounts if you bundle with your car insurance or other products. If you have a larger or more valuable boat, the insurance company may require an appraisal or inspection before writing your policy.
Get Boat Insurance
Because boat insurance has so many options and depends on what kind of boat you have, you may want to get help from an independent insurance agent. An independent insurance agent works for you, not the insurance company, and only has your interests in mind. Adam Johnston Insurance serves the Janesville, WI, area. Contact us now to request a quote or for more information.