Boat and Watercraft Insurance Guide: the Reasons to Have the Right Policy

boat and watercraft insurance

Summer is coming. 

Feeling the sun on your face, and on your shoulders more and more each day is a gentle reminder of the fun that arrives with the heat. Its almost a warm little tap on the shoulder to ask, are you ready for when it’s time to get out and get playing?

Running around to get everything together you need for a stress-free, fun day out and about will begin. You’ve done this before, though, and you know having everything ready and set aside makes it that much easier to grab and go when the time is right.

You have a list to make sure you never forget anything because when you finally get out to the beach, to the lake, or to any of those sandy places to take a dip and cool off, you don’t want to reach for one of the necessities to find it missing. 

There are always the basics on the list- sunscreen and sunglasses, cooler and ice with lots of water and gatorades, a few towels and a good book. 

But do you have all the coverage that would help protect you out on the water too? (And we’re not asking about a big, stylishly floppy sunhat…)

With nearly 25.4 million recreational boats owned in 2018 alone, there are enough American households that own boats (about 12% of all households actually) for us to ask directly– do you have boat and watercraft insurance and the added protection it affords you?

You could be the owner of one (or more) of the millions of recreational boats out on water. You might just be one 5.42 million individuals that ride jet skis, but you could even be one of the owners of the 1 million jet skis out on water. Regardless of our guessing, by the numbers alone, it’s most likely beneficial to know about what needs to be covered by a boat and watercraft insurance policy, and what actually is/can be covered by a boat and watercraft insurance policy.

 Do I Need Boat and Watercraft Insurance?

The question everyone asks themselves (and Google quite a bit).

There is the short answer- yes. Very much yes. More protection and coverage is always the preferred choice, above all else. 

Then there is the long answer- there’s the what, the why, the how, and the from where that you will continue to uncover here. 

What Defines “Watercraft” in Boat and Watercraft Insurance? 

Personal watercrafts are commonly described in the insurance context as smaller, recreational vehicles often designed as surface skimming crafts, similar to jet skis, wave runners, and ski doos

“Watercraft” as a general term covers aquatic vehicles that can be powered by engines, yes, but also sails, oars, and paddles. Though these vessels are impactful to quality of life and lifestyle, they are often covered in homeowner’s insurance policies under the identity of personal property found within a home as its listed contents.

When speaking in terms of boat and watercraft insurance, the vessels covered include motorized boats, sailboats, and personal watercrafts such as the jet skis mentioned above. 

The Limited Reach of Homeowners Insurance to act as Boat and Watercraft Insurance

Some homeowner’s insurance policies can cover your boat and watercraft– but only to a very limited extent. Ashland Insurance’s homeowners insurance policies do not, though the Watercraft Insurance policies cover everything you would think a homeowner’s policies might, plus so much more. 

The reach of coverage is commonly disordered and the reality of protection is often learned at the wrong time. 

Homeowner’s insurance policies can cover boats but to a very, very limited extent. The restrictions are seen in the damage coverage/reimbursements to the craft itself as well as the trailer and furnishings. Another defining limitation is found in the location of where the damaging event occurred. Most policies can apply the homeowners insurance extension if the event occurs at the policy-covered homesite.

Most accidents happen away from the home, though, often in transit or on the water. Its clear why having a boat and watercraft insurance policy specific to the investments of fun, enjoyment, and time spent out on the water. 

boat and watercraft insurance

What are the Most Common Causes of Boat and Watercraft Insurance Claims?

Another way of asking- what are my risks, and what needs to be covered?

The most common causes of filing boat and watercraft insurance claims come from a mix of variables. 

  1. Theft of boat 
  2. Theft of equipment
  3. Collision with underwater object
  4. Collision with another vessel
  5. Sinking
  6. Weather– high winds, rain, hail, lightning, etc
  7. Malicious, intentional damage inflicted by another individual
  8. Grounding into the seabed or waterway side
  9. Fire and explosions 
  10. Injury while boarding/disembarking vessel

It is not uncommon for one or more of these incidents to compound and lead into another. 

Collision with another vessel can lead to fire, and sinking. 

Malicious, intentional damage can be coupled with the theft of equipment and, again, sinking. 

Heinous weather can instigate a rushed disembarking, leading to injury. While the boat is left to withstand the weather, there is physical damage, and the risk of fire in the event of lightning. 

So…What Does Boat and Watercraft Insurance Cover?

Just as with many insurance policy offerings and firms, there are variables that affect different elements of protection and coverage from different firms. There are still some ideal basics found in the common policy structure

Property Damage Coverage protects most all of the common causes for boat and watercraft insurance claims. This includes theft, and physical damage. Its advised to seek out a policy that covers these beyond just the hull and the machinery itself but also trailers, permanently installed equipment, and personal property required for boat’s operation- GPS, tools, etc.

Liability Coverage is the part of the policy that protects you in the case of damage outside of yourself. Just as we elaborated on in our last blog post, Motorcycle Insurance Policy for Riders on the Road, this is the protection that kicks in if your boat damages another individual’s property– boat included – or causes injury

The limits of coverage can span from $100,000 to $1 million. Considering the often extent of bodily or physical damage reaching beyond what can be imagined, or even average from encounter to encounter, the annual cost of $500 for the $1 million extension is simply just worth the investment. This is true even more so when housed under an umbrella policy that then widens your liability coverage to home and auto insurance policies as well. 

What Else Can Boat and Watercraft Insurance Cover?

As with many insurance policies, boat and watercraft insurance has optional add-ons that might fit your watercraft usage. 

Some optional add-ons to your boat and watercraft insurance policy to consider– 

  1. Towing and Assistance in moving your craft from the dock to home, or repair facility. 
  2. Uninsured Boaters Coverage that provides you what your Liability Coverage would afford them in the event they have the same to aid damages inflicted on you and your property. (Since boat and watercraft insurance is not required by law, this is a good add on to consider.)
  3. Medical Payment Coverage
  4. Fishing Tackle Coverage focuses protection on fishing equipment 
  5. Reasonable Repairs made to deter future damages
  6. Emergency Service 
  7. Wreck Removal 

Just like any vehicle or vessel you may load your friends, family, and quality-of-life into, its worth finding the coverage that provides the needed protection.

With so many options and add-ons, there is a policy that fits you and your boat

Visit our Watercraft Insurance page to learn more

Request a quote online 

or give us a call to gain more clarity and explore potential discounts

541.482.0831 Ashland

541.857.0679 Medford