Do You Need Insurance For Your Boat?

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There’s little confusion among drivers about the need for auto insurance: it’s a requirement in order to license a car. Boat-owners can similarly buy boat or PWC (personal watercraft) insurance, covering both the craft and any damage is causes. However, if the boater also owns a home (or has renters’ insurance), such a separate insurance policy may or may not be required, depending mostly on the size and type of the craft.

Here’s what likely is and isn’t covered by your homeowners insurance, including some rather curious omissions, along with some tips on buying a boat policy.

What Your Home Insurance Should Cover

Home or renters’ insurance policy provides limited coverage, but it may suffice for a smaller boat, especially if you’re willing to live higher risk. Here’s what you can expect to be covered.

Theft, vandalism, and more, to a limit.  If your boat’s moored or stored, your home policy offers some coverage should it be stolen, vandalized, or damaged by fire, explosion or falling objects. However, most policies will reimburse only up to $1,000, after you’ve paid the deductible on the policy.

If you have items on your boat that are stolen or destroyed, you can likely use your homeowners insurance to file a claim and recoup those losses, too–again within the $1,000 limit. For example, if you bought an expensive portable speaker for an outing, and it is stolen, your home insurance policy would cover that. However, coverage would not extend to specialized boating gear, say fishing radar, and any built-in equipment, such as a sound system.

Some “acts of god.”  Your home insurance protects you against certain “acts of god,” which mostly involves weather damage, but coverage varies by the type of weather and where the damage occurs. Hail damage is covered, for example, but only if the boat was in an enclosed building–and, say, hail broke a window and then hurtled down onto the boat. Damage from wind and rain, on the other hand, isn’t covered, unless that enclosed building is ripped away and the boat is then exposed to the elements. And for this coverage, too, that $1,000 limit is likely to apply.

Liability from use of certain boats. If you injure someone or damage property with your watercraft, the liability portion of your home insurance policy can help cover any associated claim against you. Homeowners insurance policies come with at least $100,000 in liability coverage you can use for legal expenses or restitutions if you need to pay the affected party.

However, only certain boats are so covered. They include craft with inboard engines of up to 50 HP, outboard motors of only up to 25 HP–a modest level, and sailboats that are up to 26 feet long. And your policy won’t cover liability claims against jet skis, those speedy motorcycles-of-the-water, or airboats, those flat-bottomed boats that ply the Florida Everglades and other swampy territory.

Buying Boat Insurance
Given the many conditions, limitations and caveats of home insurance, most boaters with a serious vessel will need to take out a boat or personal watercraft (PWC) insurance policy.

Boat insurance, as well as PWC insurance, provide more thorough coverage for your boat or PWC. Boat and PWC insurance policies breakdown similarly to auto insurance policies in that you get coverage for the craft itself, liability coverage, and even coverage against uninsured boaters too. With these types of policies if your boat is damaged by any of the disasters we list up top, you would be insured for the value of your boat, rather than only to that $1,000 limit. If you injure someone with your craft, or destroy property, the liability portion of the policy will step in to protect you no matter the size of the boat–though larger boats will likely cost more to insure.

You can also add to your boat insurance policy specialty coverages for any special equipment or accessories you have on the boat. This can come in handy if you tend to fish often, and have expensive fishing equipment. Trailers and anchors may also be insured under your policy.

This content originally appeared on ValuePenguin.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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