insurance

6 things to know about boat insurance

Is my boat covered when it's out of the water?

Strangely enough, yes -- but not by your boat policy.

"When the boat is attached to your car or truck, you are covered by your auto policy should you back into somebody," says Jawitz. "Anytime you're trailering something, the car policy overrides."

The bad news is it's covered solely by your auto policy, and only to the limits contained therein.

"A yacht policy will not pay for loss of life, bodily injury or property damage that occurs when the insured property is being transported on land," says McChristian.

Your homeowners insurance may provide limited coverage if the boat is damaged while parked on your property, but it may not stretch to cover stolen contents or vandalism.

To protect your boat (and your assets) from terrestrial liability, Jawitz recommends an umbrella policy.

"If someone gets injured, the umbrella policy would come on top of your auto and homeowners and cover you to the additional limits. If you have a boat, it's not only one more asset but it's another opportunity for risk. You want to make sure you're covered," he says.

Is my boat covered everywhere?

Novice boaters may be unaware of the navigational limits on their boat insurance policy.

"Most policies contain a navigational warranty," says Cyr. "It's usually the inland waters of the U.S. and Canada or the coastal waters of the U.S. and Canada for smaller boats up to 26 feet. For larger craft, we have 22 territories that are defined by geographical points. For instance, one of them goes from Eastport, Maine, to Cape Hatteras, N.C.; another goes from Eastport, Maine, all the way around Florida to the panhandle."

Be sure your policy provides coverage where you want to roam. It may exclude certain areas for political or security reasons (think Somali pirates).

"If you want to do a one-time trip, we provide the ability for the one-time trip, but you need to check in with your agent to make sure you have the coverage provided," Cyr says.

Some policies offer an optional endorsement that helps pay to move your boat out of harm's way when a named storm approaches. Travelers pays 50 percent of the cost to move or haul your boat up to $1,000 per occurrence and $2,000 per policy term.

How can I save money on boat insurance?

Now that you know the basics of boat insurance, let's dig for some savings.

  • Get specific. Don't buy a yacht policy if you own a dinghy. BoatInsurance.org lists 15 varieties of boat insurance, including powerboat, sailboat, houseboat, bass boat, wooden boat, fishing boat, pontoon boat, personal watercraft and so on, each with its own price structure and set of features. Shop around.
  • Go all-in on safety features. According to Cyr, many boat insurance underwriters offer policy discounts for gadgets that protect their investment, such as wireless auto tethers that act as an engine kill switch should the skipper or any of the passengers fall overboard.
  • Take a boating class. A trained boater is a safer boater. Contact your agent for discount-qualifying classes in your area. One class can save you 5 percent or more on your policy, year after boating year, Cyr says.
  • Extend your lay-up period. Insurers are willing to cut your premium during those days or months when you're not using your boat. "There is a premium discount of 4 percent per month off the hull portion of your total premium at Travelers," Cyr says.

 

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