Know what boat insurance covers, what it doesn’t and what you need to watch out for   

When it comes to steering your boat clear of risk, there could be rough waters ahead. Especially without the right coverage.

As a recreational boat owner, the last thing you want to do is get caught in a legal battle due to injury or physical damage resulting from your craft. Boat insurance can protect all motorized watercraft, from jet skis to yachts, in the case of side-swiping a dock or most importantly, should your passengers or anyone else be injured due to negligence.

Prior to your boat insurance purchase or renewal, it’s important to ask yourself the question “what does boat insurance cover?”. This guide will help you understand what boat insurance covers, what it doesn’t and how to make sure it backs you when you need it most.

First, know what’s NOT covered.

Coverage exclusions based on waters traveled and type of craft, etc., can come as a surprise to boat owners, so investigate potential policy exclusions before you set sail for the season. Here are a few common exclusions:

  • The U.S. coastlines include multiple, navigational territories for yachts. When you exceed your pre-selected territories and there is a loss, it won’t be covered, make sure to review the navigational territories allowed in your policy.
  • Some carriers don’t cover damage resulting from vermin, i.e. raccoon, squirrel damage. This is especially an issue for boats in lay up for an extended period of time.
  • Not all carriers cover issues arising from ice and freezing. When they do, they require the boat to have been winterized in accordance with proper manufacturer instructions and/or by an authorized marine service center.
  • When collecting on a claim of theft, carriers will want to see visible signs of forced entry. Most issues of boat theft can be avoided all together by simply locking up valuables when not on board.
  • While coverage doesn’t stop when you put your vessel into layup, if you have a layup warranty, you can’t operate your vessel during that time and coverage could be denied if you have a loss.
Then, know what IS covered.

All standard, domestic boat policies are annual, not seasonal and are considered “all risk” policies, so that if the cause of loss is not specifically excluded from your policy, it’s automatically considered a covered loss. Consult your policy on the following items to determine coverage and claim limits: 

  • Should you and your boat be the cause of an accident or injury to a person or property, i.e. a boat, pier, buoy or dock, or should your boat catch fire or be the victim of theft of vandalism, boat insurance will help cover the loss.
  • Uninsured Watercraft Coverage will pay for injuries to you, your family or anyone on your boat when the accident was at the hand of an uninsured boater.
  • Watercraft Medical Coverage will pay for medical services including hospital bills, surgeries, X-rays, dental care and more due to a boating injury.
  • The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 made responsible parties liable for oil removal costs and damages for spills they caused, up to certain statutory limits. Boat policies will often cover you for this amount and will automatically increase coverage if a new statutory limit is set.

Don’t navigate the waters it alone.

Thousands of recreational boating accidents occur annually. Before you take your boat out this season, make sure you’re properly covered for your risk. Should you be the cause or the victim of an accident, you wouldn’t want to be left without a safety net. Contact your HUB Personal Lines broker to enlist the right coverage for you and your craft