The fact that boating is fun means people can often forget the dangers, but just like you remember safety on the water, you also need to remember the financial consequences of an accident. If someone gets hurt or a boat is damaged, boat insurance can cover the costs.
Does Your Other Insurance Cover Boating?
If you have homeowner’s, auto, or health insurance, you might expect to already be covered. You may have some protection, but it probably won’t be enough.
- Homeowner’s Insurance: Homeowner’s insurance might provide protection to a boat that’s damaged while sitting in your garage or on your driveway. However, there will usually be limits on the value or type of vehicle that may mean you only have partial coverage if you have any coverage. Similarly, the liability portion of your policy might apply to something like a kayak you launch from your back dock but not a motorboat you launch from a boat ramp.
- Auto Insurance: Your auto insurance policy generally won’t extend to watercraft, even if it covers cars you rent or borrow. It may or may not cover your boat while you’re towing it depending on the options and limits you selected.
- Health Insurance: If you’re hurt in an accident, your health insurance covers medical costs as usual. However, you may still have to pay a deductible, and there may be limits on emergency transportation that leave you with a hefty bill if you need to be rescued on the water.
Always carefully review your specific insurance policy to see what coverage you may have.
What Does Boat Insurance Cover?
A boat insurance policy works similarly to an auto insurance policy. There are various coverages that you want to consider.
- Damage to your boat from an accident, while transporting it, and in storage.
- Damage to another boat if you cause an accident.
- Liability to other boaters, swimmers, or others if you cause an accident.
- Towing assistance if your boat is disabled on the water.
- Medical payments to supplement your health insurance.
Depending on the insurance company, you may be able to get these coverages as a standard bundle or by selecting each coverage separately.
How Much Will Your Damage Coverage Pay You?
There are several options when you purchase damage coverage. They include the current cash value of your boat, a predetermined fixed amount, and current replacement cost. Options that mean the insurance company would pay less are typically cheaper, but you’d need to consider if you’d want to pay cash or take out a loan to buy a new boat if something happens to your current boat.
Does Wisconsin Require Boat Insurance?
Wisconsin doesn’t have a law requiring boat insurance for most personal vessels. However, not carrying insurance means you would be personally responsible for any costs from an accident, damage, or theft. If you injure someone and they sue you, you could lose other assets, possibly including your home, to pay the judgment.
If you plan to travel outside of Wisconsin, remember that local laws will apply, so check before you go.
Does Your Type of Boat Matter?
The type of boat you have influences your insurance rates and may impact your decision on which coverages you need. Kayaks are inexpensive and have a low risk of causing harm to others, so you may need minimal coverage or decide not to carry it. A personal watercraft or high-speed powerboat has more risk of being in an accident than a slow pontoon boat, so the faster boats will cost more to insure. The value of your boat also impacts your insurance rates when you’re insuring your boat.
Do You Need to Take a Boating Safety Class?
Wisconsin generally only requires a boating safety class for younger operators, but it’s a good idea for everyone so you can learn the “rules of the road” and be able to interact with other boaters safely. For example, if two boats are on a path to intercept each other, what should each boat do? Most boat insurance companies offer a discount if you take a boating safety class even when it wasn’t required by law.
Where Can You Take Your Boat?
Boat insurance usually follows you wherever you are since you can only go so far from home. However, boat insurance policies for larger boats designed for long-distance travel may have limits based on your distance from home, specific areas where you can and can’t go, or the type of water you’re in.
What if You Don’t Use Your Boat All Year?
You may be able to save on boat insurance by choosing a policy that allows you to designate a layup period. When you leave your boat in storage for a season, you only need coverage for damage or theft in storage, not incidents on the water. Selecting the layup period allows you to only pay for that coverage. You aren’t covered if you take your boat out during the layup period unless you call to change your policy.
Who Does Boat Insurance Cover?
Your boat insurance generally covers any legal operator of your boat. You may not be covered if something happens while you allow someone who is underage, intoxicated, or didn’t complete a required safety course to operate your boat.
Do You Need to Have an Inspection to Buy Boat Insurance?
You typically don’t need an inspection for the most common types of personal boats. However, insurance companies may require an inspection for older or larger boats.
If you’re buying used, an inspection is good for your own safety as damage from a previous accident could compromise your safety. That’s why many insurance companies offer a single-owner discount.
How Much Does Boat Insurance Cost?
Boat insurance costs vary widely based on where you are, where you store your boat and the type of boat you have. Your insurance agent can give you a customized quote. Contact Feldbruegge Insurance to get a customized quote or to learn more about boat insurance.