Boat insurance is a type of vehicle insurance that is similar to other types, however, it has a larger number of factors to take into consideration when selecting a policy. For instance, providers look at the age, condition, type, and class of the boat; sizes vary greatly and can range from older personal watercraft to brand new yachts. Other factors include usage and location. For example, the insurance company will determine whether the boat can be used as a permanent residence, travel into international waters, or stored at a residence or marina for up to six months or a year. Similar to car insurance, however, boat insurance can provide liability, comprehensive, and collision protection in the event of an accident or theft, and can cover the damages caused to other parties and subsequent medical costs if the insured is at fault in an accident. Expected annual premiums are between $300 and $500, although premiums are dependent upon the coverages and benefits selected.

The two primary types of boat insurance policies, based on the value of the vessel, are actual cash value and agreed value. An actual cash value policy will be less expensive but will cover less in the event of total loss, meaning only the current value of the boat less any depreciation is covered. This policy is suited for individuals who own older boats, whereas an agreed value policy is appropriate for a boat owner with a newer or more expensive vessel or yacht because it covers the value listed on the policy. Keep in mind that most homeowner policies do not provide coverage on watercraft or only provide minimal coverage for a certain size boat or motor. Most states do not require boat insurance, however, marinas that lease boat slips or docking services do require, at a minimum, liability and uninsured/underinsured boater coverage. In this case, it is recommended to have $500,000 to $1 million in liability and $10,000 in uninsured/underinsured boater coverage. Additionally, if there will be a bank loan on the watercraft, the lender will require proof of insurance prior to the approval of the loan.

When shopping for a boat insurance carrier, keep in mind that policy coverage and benefits vary greatly among providers; therefore, obtaining detailed quotes from at least three companies is suggested. Some benefits or add-on coverages may be particularly critical in some cases, such as on-water towing, fuel spill clean-up, salvage assistance, or wreckage removal. There are discounts available to lower premiums including multi-policy discount, good driving record discount, and discounts awarded for passing a boat safety course. Customer support is also key with boat insurance, especially having representatives available 24/7 who can respond to urgent claims and mobile apps through which boat owners who are overseas can receive assistance.

 

The financial investment in the protection of a watercraft is significant; therefore, understanding the financial strength and reputation of a provider is important. Credit rating agencies, such as A.M. Best, Moody's, and Standard & Poor's report on a company's creditworthiness and ability to pay claims. The Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot.com, a customer review site, are excellent resources to research a company’s reputation among its customers. Additionally, individuals can also reference the National Association of Insurance Commissioner's (NAIC) complaint reports.


Top 10 Companies

#1
9.3 / 10
  • Affordable insurance coverages for recreational boaters
  • Agreed value, actual cash value, liability-only, and anglers-only policies
  • Unlimited towing with BoatUS membership
  • Mechanical breakdown endorsement available
  • 25% diminishing deductible on all base policies
  • 24/7 dispatching and claims reporting
#2
8.7 / 10
  • For United States Power Squadrons (USPS) members only
  • Exceptional coverage and discounts for all types of watercraft
  • $845k automatic fuel spill coverage 
  • Automatic coverage for water skiing
  • 24/7 claims processing
  • Expert and knowledgeable marine insurance professionals
#3
8.7 / 10
  • Rated AA (very strong) by Standard & Poor's
  • Insures boats of up to $350,000 and personal watercraft of up to $27,000
  • Receive premium discounts for taking a boat safety course
  • Accident forgiveness benefit included
  • Customize your coverages with the simple quote tool
#4
8.7 / 10
  • World's premier yacht insurance provider
  • 100 years experience in marine and boat insurance  
  • Three agreed value policies dependent on the type of vessel
  • Customizable policies with a variety of unique coverages and benefits
  • Up to 120% replacement cost coverage in the event of a total loss

 

#5
8.6 / 10
  • Get a free personalized boat insurance quote online
  • Watercraft insurance from industry-leading underwriters
  • 24/7 dispatchers available for boat emergencies
  • Liability coverage from $300,000 to over $1 million
  • NBOA membership includes boat towing and roadside assistance
#6
8.5 / 10
  • Customized boat and yacht insurance policies
  • Backed by vast industry experience and strong financial ratings
  • Offers liability umbrella policies from $1 to $10 million 
  • Discounts for safety features and up to a 13% for multiple policies
  • 24/7 claims processing service

 

 

#7
8.4 / 10
  • Comprehensive "all-risk" coverages for single vessels and fleets
  • Specialty services for yacht, boat, and pleasure craft owners
  • Custom policies cover everything from minor impacts to major losses
  • Enhanced machinery breakdown and coverage for tenders and sport toys
  • Superior claims and risk consulting services from a worldwide network of experts
  • Backed by the company's outstanding financial strength and reputation
#8
8.2 / 10
  • Exclusively offers boat insurance policies 
  • Specialized coverages for larger yachts and charter boats
  • Agreed value or actual cash value policies for all types of boats
  • Easy to compare boat and yacht insurance policies online
  • Additional boat-related resources including articles and blog
  • Free, instant quotes and live chat
#9
8.2 / 10
  • Protect your boat for as little as $20 a month
  • Up to 20% discount with multiple policies
  • Up to 10% discount with full premium payment
  • Get tips on boat safety and maintenance
  • Agreed value policy option available
  • Boat equipment and boat trailer coverage
  • Valuable tools and resources for boaters
#10
8.2 / 10
  • Watercraft-only insurance policies
  • A client base of over 300,000 U.S. boat owners
  • Customizable coverages based on watercraft specifications 
  • Expert and knowledgeable agents
  • Quick claims processing and free online quotes
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How We Compare Boat Insurance

Coverage & Benefits

40%

Only three states—Arkansas, Hawaii, and Utah—place some kind of insurance requirement on boaters. Therefore, most boat owners are not required to purchase boat insurance of any kind, though most marinas do require liability insurance. However, like all insurance types, having insurance and not needing it is better than needing a policy and not having one.

When shopping for a boat insurance policy, you must first decide if you want an actual cash value or an agreed value policy. This will determine the amount of money you will be paid if you suffer a covered loss.

Another factor you will consider is the specific coverages that will be included in your policy. Boat insurance policies may include liability coverage, which will pay out to third-parties in case they are hurt in a boat-related accident where you are at fault, property damage, collision coverage, and additional boat equipment coverage, among others. Some policies will cover personal watercraft (PWC) and boat trailers used to transport the vessel, but others will not.

Compare several insurance companies to see if they offer what you consider valuable. One thing to look at are the additional benefits the company offers, like wreckage removal and salvage assistance. Since boat insurance policies can be pricey when ensuring a large, expensive boat, consider also the discounts offered by the insurance company, such as discounts for taking a boat education course or a discount for bundling multiple policies with the same company.

Finally, keep in mind that insurance companies typically place restrictions on the type, size, and value of the boat they are willing to ensure. Make sure your boat type falls into the covered categories and that the length and value of the boat do not exceed the company’s maximum limits.

Policy Type

Actual cash value: An actual cash value (ACV) policy, also called a market value policy, pays out up to the actual market value of the insured vessel, minus depreciation. This type of policy is less expensive, but also generally costs more out of pocket, since many of the costs associated with a partial or total loss will have to be borne by the boat owner.

Agreed value: An agreed value policy pays out up to an amount that is agreed upon between the insurance company and the insured. This type of policy is more expensive, because the company may end up paying more than the boat is worth, but is the most beneficial type of policy, for example, when dealing with a total loss. The depreciation of the watercraft is not taken into account with this type of policy.

Coverages

Comprehensive: Covers damages to your boat caused by events that are not related to a collision, such as theft and vandalism. A deductible applies. It is often bundled with collision coverage.

Collision: Covers damages to your boat caused by a collision. It may include the costs of repairing or replacing your boat. A deductible applies. Collision coverage can be bundled with comprehensive coverage or offered alone.

Bodily Injury Liability: Covers bodily injuries caused by you to third parties, including other boaters and your passengers. This coverage includes the cost of any legal expenses.

Property Damage Liability: Covers property damages caused by you to third parties. The damaged property does not have to be another boat or watercraft. This coverage includes the cost of any legal expenses.

Reasonable Repairs: Covers repairs that may be needed to protect the boat from suffering a future loss.

Medical Payments: Covers the costs of medical treatment incurred by you or other people when involved in an accident on your boat.

Uninsured/Underinsured Boater: Covers the damages caused to you by another boater who does not have insurance or does not have sufficient insurance.

Personal Effects: Covers your personal property, such as fishing equipment. Items that are particularly expensive may require a rider to increase the coverage limit.

Motor: Covers damages suffered by the engine of your boat.

Additional Boat Equipment: Covers removable accessories used on your boat, such as navigation gear, life vests, and anchors.

Boat Trailer: Covers the trailer you use to transport your boat on land.

Personal Watercraft: Covers personal watercraft (PWC) such as kayaks and water scooters, sometimes known by brand names like Jet Ski, WaveRunner, and Sea-Doo.

Salvage Assistance: Covers the costs of retrieving your boat from the water if it is in danger. It may also cover the necessary repairs to make it seaworthy again. Some policies include this as a built-in benefit.

Benefits

Wreckage Removal: If your boat sinks and removing it is required by law, the insurance company will remove it from the water. Some companies include this benefit in every boat insurance policy; others offer it as an additional coverage that is purchased separately. It may also be called Salvage Assistance.

Roadside Assistance: If your boat trailer or tow vehicle breaks down on the road, the insurance company will help you get to a repair shop.

Fuel Spill Clean-up: If a covered incident causes your boat's fuel tank to spill, the insurance company will arrange for the clean-up of the spill. Some companies will even perform this service if the insured boat sinks.

Boat Towing: If your boat becomes disabled in the water, the insurance company will send a tow boat to bring it back to shore. If the boat is in peril, then salvage assistance is activated, which is a separate coverage.

Accident Forgiveness: Some insurance companies will waive their right to increase your premiums after you are involved in an accident if it is the first time you file a claim or if the amount of the claim falls under a certain dollar amount.

24/7 Dispatch: The insurance company has dispatchers available around the clock to assist you if you have an urgent claim to file or if you need one of the included services, like boat towing or roadside assistance, after regular business hours.

Add-On Coverages

Total Loss Replacement: With this rider, if your boat is totaled, the insurance company will replace it with a new one or pay you the original purchase price of your boat.

Soft Ungrounding: With this rider, if your boat is a ground (on a sandbank, for example), is not in peril, and can be ungrounded in a short amount of time with a small amount of effort, the insurance company will tow you back into the water. If the boat is in peril of sinking, then salvage assistance is activated, which is a separate coverage.

Diminishing Deductible: With this rider, your deductible (the amount of money you have to pay out-of-pocket before the insurance policy pays out) goes down on a periodic basis as long as you do not file any claims.

Discounts

Multi-Policy: Receive a discount on your premium when you bundle multiple policies (boat insurance, auto insurance, homeowners insurance, renters insurance, etc.) with the same insurance company.

Full-Pay: Receive a discount on your premium when you pay your insurance premiums with a single payment instead of in installments.

Homeowners Insurance: Receive a discount on your premium when you purchase homeowners insurance with the same insurance company.

Boat Education Course: Receive a discount on your premium when you pass a boat safety education course.

Automatic Payments: Receive a discount on your premium when you set up automatic electronic payments from your bank account.

Good Boating: Receive a discount on your premium if you have no accidents on record after a certain number of years.

Diesel Craft: Receive a discount on your premium if your boat uses diesel fuel (diesel engines are at a lower risk of explosion than gasoline engines).

Coast Guard-Approved Fire Extinguisher: Receive a discount on your premium if you carry a Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher on board.

Ship-to-Shore Radio: Receive a discount on your premium if your boat features a functioning ship-to-shore radio

Layup (Storage): Receive a discount on your premium if you layup or store your boat for part of the year.

Type of Boat

Insurance companies may place limits on the type of boats that are covered by the policy. In this vertical, we have tried to ascertain the types of boats that each insurance company covers. Some types we have identified are speedboats, bass boats, pontoons, personal watercraft (PWC), sailboats, antique boats, and cargo ships.


Customer Experience

30%

Another factor consumers should consider when comparing boat insurance providers is the customer service standards of the insurer or marketplace. The very nature of boat insurance means your insurance company should have a team of qualified experts available to respond to any situations that may arise, from an engine malfunction in the middle of the ocean to a Category 5 hurricane. Companies that offer 24/7 assistance online or over the phone, 'round-the-clock claims filing, online accounts, free no-obligation quotes, or useful resources for current or prospective policyholders demonstrate a greater degree of commitment to their client base and make it easier for policyholders to receive the assistance they require when they require it. 

Online Quotes

Most insurance companies require that you call an agent to receive a quote, however, some do allow you to answer a few questions and get a price range for what your premium might be, which is useful if you want to compare policies quickly.

24/7 Claims

This is arguably the most important function of customer service for boat insurance. If you have a boating accident in the middle of the night or need roadside assistance for your trailer on a Sunday, dispatchers that are available around the clock will be able to assist you.

Additional Resources

Most insurance companies will have additional resources available on their website. These can include frequently asked questions (FAQs) and blog articles that cover popular boating topics.


Financial Strength & Reputation

30%

When you purchase an insurance policy, be it for a boat, a car, or a house, you want to make sure the insurance company will be able to pay out any claims in the future. One way to ensure this is to look at the company's financial strength, as evidenced by the ratings it receives from credit rating agencies. We've taken a look at the long-term ratings each company has received from three top credit rating agencies: A. M. Best, Standard & Poor's, and Moody's. Click on each company to view the meaning of their rating system. We also looked at each company's share of the insurance market according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and the total amount of premiums it sells every year. NAIC figures for boat insurance reflect the numbers for homeowners insurance, under which category the NAIC classifies boat insurance.

Another important factor when evaluating insurance companies is its reputation among its customers. As it's often said, "past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior". Knowing how efficiently a company handles claims, for example, should help you decide whether or not to purchase a policy with them. To evaluate this, we've looked at the ratings given by the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot.com, as well as the complaints recorded by the NAIC.

Company Type

We classify boat insurance providers into two categories. Underwriters are insurance companies that underwrite their own policies. Subsidiaries, or partners, are companies either owned by an underwriter, or who have partnered with a single underwriter for all of their policies.

NAIC Marketshare (2017)

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) looks at each company's share of the insurance market by dividing the number of total premiums sold by them by the total premiums sold by all companies in the market. The figures reflect the 2017 report.

NAIC Direct Premiums Earned (2017)

The NAIC prepares a Financial Report for the fiscal year. The amount of direct premiums written is a way to know how much money the insurance company makes from insurance policies in a year.

BBB Rating

The Better Business Bureau is a non-profit organization that evaluates companies' performance based on how well they respond to customer complaints, any government regulatory actions taken against them, and the company's advertising practices, among other factors. Companies are rated on a school-style scale, from A+ to F.

Trust Pilot Rating

Trustpilot.com is an online review company that lets customers rate and review companies on a scale of 1 to 10. Companies are searched by their web addresses.

NAIC Complaint Ratio (2017)

The NAIC reports on the ratio of complaints filed against the insurance company that resulted in a judgment in the customer's favor. This ratio is calculated by dividing the number of complaints filed against the company by the total number of complaints filed against all insurance companies. A complaint ratio under 1.00 is below average, while a complaint ratio over 1.00 is above average.

NAIC Total Complaints (2017)

The NAIC also reports on the total number of complaints filed against the insurance company that resulted in a judgment in the customer's favor. A large company with a large number of complaints is not necessarily worrisome, but it can give potential customers an idea of how satisfied its customers are on average.


What's important to know about Boat Insurance?


What is the difference between "agreed value" and "actual cash value"?

Whether you're purchasing insurance for your car or your boat, choosing between an agreed value policy and an actual cash value policy will be a major decision. An actual cash value policy, also known as a market value policy, insures your vehicle or watercraft for its current market value, minus depreciation, meaning the worth of your property will depend on the average value for that car or boat according to the current market. For example, if the current market value of your ten-year-old sailboat is $30,000 and you purchase an actual cash value policy, your boat will be insured for that amount. In the event your boat is totaled, you may be eligible to receive compensation of up to the amount your boat is valued at in the current market. An agreed value policy, on the other hand, will insure your car or boat for a value agreed upon between you and the insurer at the time you purchased the policy. In this case, if the sailboat was worth $90,000 ten years ago when you purchased an agreed value policy and you purchased coverage up to that amount,, the insurance company will pay out up $900,000, even if the boat is only currently worth $30,000. Agreed value policies are generally more expensive than actual cash value policies, since they tend to pay out larger amounts.

Is my boat covered when it's out of the water?

The answer to this question will depend on your boat, auto, or home insurance policies. If you have an accident while hauling your boat, any physical damage to the watercraft will be covered by the boat insurance policy, up to the limits of your coverage. However, boat insurance typically won't cover damages to another person or vehicle while the watercraft is being towed. If your towing vehicle is duly insured, any damages to it or another vehicle or passenger should be covered under your auto insurance policy. If anyone is injured while riding in your vehicle, any medical expenses that stem from the accident should be covered by the car insurance policy's medical payments coverage. Your boat, on the other hand, would have to be listed on your auto policy for it to be protected against damages caused by a collision. Similarly, a hauling or towing vehicle could be covered under some boat insurance policies, depending on the selected coverage.

A homeowners policy may also help protect your watercraft against named perils like theft, yet the boat and trailer would have to be explicitly listed under the policy schedule to be covered. If the watercraft collides with another vehicle, homeowners insurance will not cover the damages. Those wanting an additional level of security for their property may opt for a personal umbrella policy, which provides personal liability protection against major lawsuits and claims. This type of coverage can offer more than the standard limits of protection typically tendered by auto, home, and boat insurance policies, providing additional peace of mind to the policyholder.

How can I save money on boat insurance?

There are several ways to save money on boat insurance. The first one will entail knowing the exact kind of coverages your watercraft will require. Some boaters opt for liability-only coverage after paying off their watercraft in full, doing away with additional protections to keep only the standard property damage, bodily injury, and pollution liability coverages as well as wreckage removal. However, liability-only coverage will only secure your property up to a certain limit and will not protect it from a catastrophic accident. Another way to save is to shop around for quotes from several different insurance carriers, comparing both costs and benefits to select precisely what you need at the right price. Insurers also extend discounts to policyholders willing to take boating courses, who have safety equipment in place, pay their premiums in full, are claim-free during the previous term, insure multiple boats or boats and vehicles with the same company, or have diesel-powered watercraft. If you are only planning to use your watercraft for certain months out of the year, putting the boat in storage or "lay-up" could substantially reduce insurance costs. While the boat is in storage, port-risk coverage should be sufficient.

What is PWC Insurance?

PWCs are personal watercraft, a term that generally refers to a recreational vessel, also known as a water scooter or by the brand name Jet Ski, with an inboard motor that powers a jet pump for propulsion. The personal watercraft can be ridden like a motorcycle and the rider can operate the vessel either sitting or standing, depending on the model. The most popular type of PWC is the multi-passenger unit, which can seat up to three or four people. Single passenger units typically feature a stand-up style better suited for racing and competitions.

Personal watercraft insurance protects both the policyholder, as well as anyone who uses the vessel, against common liability losses and situations like damage to another watercraft, bodily injury to another person, the death of another person due to the negligence of the rider, physical damage to the vessel's hull or machinery, and towing assistance, among others. PWC policies will not cover certain situations, such as accidents that stem from operating the vessel at night or riding a watercraft without a license.

Are my passengers covered by my boat insurance?

Boat insurance policies typically cover damages caused by collisions, including boat repair or replacement and often wreckage removal. They also cover damages caused to another person's boat or property--called property damage liability--or physical injury caused to another boater or passenger riding in the insured's vessel--called bodily injury liability. Comprehensive coverages provide compensation in the event your boat is stolen, vandalized, or damaged in a collision. Additional policies include those for medical payments, equipment, oil spills, and damages caused by uninsured or underinsured boaters. Boat insurance policies and coverages vary from one lender to another, meaning some insurers may be offering additional coverages, benefits, and discounts beyond the ones traditionally marketed.

How much does boat insurance cost?

In general, boat insurance can cost as little as $100 per year. However, the actual cost of a policy will vary depending on a number of factors, including the type, size, age, and value of the vessel, its speed, where it will be used (open seas or other bodies of water), the state in which the policyholder resides, and whether any additional coverages have been added to the policy. Other factors that could influence the cost of a boat insurance policy is the boating and driving history of the insured and whether or not they have completed any boating training courses. Owners of large boats can expect to pay several hundred more.

Does my home insurance policy cover my boat?

Most homeowners insurance policies only cover damages to the haul or equipment of your vessel while being stored on your property. Whether the watercraft is being stored in an enclosed space may also affect coverage, as some policies will not cover boats or other vessels that have been left out in the open, as they are prone to physical damages, theft, or vandalism. Coverage amounts and details will also vary depending on your insurer and state of residence.

Am I required to buy boat insurance?

Most marinas require boaters to have insurance on their vessels. If you purchased your watercraft with a loan, the bank or financial institution will also require you to insure your boat for its full market value. In the state of Arkansas, boaters are required to have at least $50,000 worth of liability coverage on all vessels that exceed 50 horsepower. Similarly, the state of Utah requires all watercraft powered by a motor or sail (excluding sailboards and inflatable vessels without motors) to be registered, but are only titled if they are from 1985 or newer. All watercraft operators in that state must pay an initial registration fee as well as an annual fee with the exception of non-residents and those whose watercraft have engines with less than 25 horsepower.