After purchasing a boat, the most crucial step to take is finding boat insurance. This may seem unnecessary, but in the event of fire, high water, hurricanes or tornadoes, boaters must be prepared. Applying for mariner’s insurance can be a simple process with the proper knowledge. One way to compare types and costs of insurance is to call each insurer. Another way is to consult with an independent agent. In either case, working with a marine insurance specialist is of the utmost importance as a boat owner considers the various options available. This article aims to give you a head start on the facts you’ll need to select the right boat insurance for your needs.
Insurance application questions are generally straightforward, and concern the size, type, make and model of the vessel. Insurers often ask owners whether they will use the boat privately or commercially, and whether they will use it inland, on the coasts or in the Great Lakes. Insurance companies will also ask for information on the applicants themselves, including their addresses, boating and driving histories, whether or not they are employed, and, for expensive boats, their sources of financing, such as loans.
The most important decision in buying boat insurance is whether to purchase specialized insurance or to cover the boat with another type of policy, such as homeowner’s coverage. Several carriers offer specialized insurance, including Foremost Insurance, ACE Recreational Marine Insurance, Progressive Insurance, Allstate Insurance and BoatU.S.
When boat owners do not have coverage designed for their specific vessel type and usage, they may not have the protection they need and may be paying a higher price than necessary, says Damon Hostetter, senior vice president of ACE Recreational Marine Insurance. ACE specializes in insurance protection for vessels as small as personal watercraft and runabouts, to larger cruisers and luxury mega-yachts.
A major reason that boaters should search out specialized insurance is that many policies for homeowners neglect to cover certain aspects of boating, including personal effects replacement, liability, water sports liability, medical coverage, pollution or fuel liability coverage, or wreck removal. Personal effects coverage includes items that are not technically boating equipment, but are likely to be found on your boat, such as fishing gear. Medical coverage helps to cover any payments for medical expenses from injuries caused by actions related to boating, including water skiing. Watercraft liability can cover damage to a dock or to another vessel, or injury to an individual, such as a swimmer or a water skier. “If you have a boat worth more than $5,000, you probably want a standalone policy, rather than a homeowner’s,” says Dan Gordon, Foremost Insurance senior product manager and head of the Marine Product subdivision of the Product Management section.
The possibilities of experiencing fuel spills or needing wreck removal may be two important reasons to purchase specialized coverage, rather than to simply add boat coverage onto a homeowner’s policy. Pollution liability coverage would pay for cleaning up contaminants that may accidentally spill into the water from a collision or a leaky fuel tank. Wreck removal pays to recover and dispose of a boat, if it sinks and needs to be removed from the water. If a boat encounters a large collision or leak, it may pose an issue that the EPA would be concerned with, notes Rick Stern, boat product manager for Progressive Insurance. He adds, “Most specialized coverages will cover this.”
Another advantage of purchasing specialized coverage is that boat insurers are likely to have employees that are particularly knowledgeable about boats. In complicated situations, you would benefit from working with individuals with expertise.
Getting the most for your money is important. But boaters should be careful about purchasing low-cost policies to save money upfront. If they experience boating problems and have disreputable carriers, they could easily lose the opportunity to boat during the rest of the season after an accident. To purchase the best insurance for the lowest price, it is helpful to understand the different coverage options and variables. Options include buying coverage for towing with available limits.