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Before You Float Your Boat, Make Sure It's Properly Insured

As the weather gets warmer, it's only natural that people are spending more time at the beach or lake. Besides the fun of getting outside and enjoying the sun, summer is the perfect time for boat owners to enjoy their watercrafts.

The latest data from the U.S. Coast Guard shows that there were 4,588 boating accidents during 2011 resulting in 758 deaths and 3,081 injuries. These accidents caused an estimated $52 million in property damage. These statistics make it clear that boat insurance should be a priority for all boat owners.

What is boat insurance?

Boat insurance provides coverage for boat owners in the event of a loss. This coverage is extended to all motorized water vehicles, including fishing boats, pontoon boats, yachts and jet skis. Boat insurance does not encompass watercraft such as canoes, kayaks and paddle boats.

What does boat insurance cover?  

Boat insurance covers physical damage to repair or replace your boat if it is accidentally damaged or destroyed. Boat insurance can also includes liability coverage if you are legally responsible for damages to property or injury to someone other than yourself or a family member. Medical payments can also be included for medical costs should someone be injured boarding your boat.

As with most insurance policies, special coverage can be added to a policy. These provisions may include total loss replacement, emergency towing, uninsured boater protection, personal effects coverage and coverage for fishing equipment.  

Things to keep in mind     

Boat owners should make sure they fully understand how they will be compensated in the event of making a claim. For instance, actual cash value policies will pay the insured the depreciated value of their boat in the event of a loss. An agreed amount policy will pay up to an agreed amount listed in the policy.

Make sure you know and understand your deductible(s). A deductible applies to physical damage to your boat when it is damaged or stolen. Different deductibles may apply to your hull, to special coverages and to named storms.  

Another issue for boat owners to take into account is the navigational limitations imposed by a policy. Some insurance policies may only provide coverage in inland waterways, while another may only offer coverage in coastal waters. These limitations can also affect how far offshore a boat may travel and still be protected, or what time of year it is allowed in certain waters. Understanding these limitations is essential for boat owners looking to protect themselves and their investment. If you use your boat beyond the policy's navigational limits a claim may be denied.

Ways to avoid boating accidents

The best way to keep a boat and those riding on it protected is to avoid accidents altogether. While it may be impossible to stop certain occurrences, there are plenty of strategies that can be employed to increase boating safety.


The first step for any boat owner should be to learn about their watercraft and make sure they're handling it properly. Courses are available for boaters of all skill levels to become familiar with safety regulations, state requirements and general information to make boating safer and more enjoyable.


Boat owners should make sure they and their passengers are prepared before heading out on a journey. This means ensuring a boat has enough fuel, is in good working condition and safety equipment is in working order. Always have a backup captain or someone who can operate your boat in the event you are not able to.


Weather conditions can have a huge impact on the safety of a boating trip. Owners should avoid boating in volatile weather, which can include conditions like rough or changing winds, storms or sudden drops in temperature.


Alcohol consumption greatly increases a boater's chances of getting into an accident. The most recent data from the U.S. Coast Guard shows that alcohol is the leading contributing factor to fatal boating accidents. Additionally, the effects of being on the water, such as sun exposure and high winds, can exacerbate the effects of alcohol.


Above all, using sound judgment is the best way to avoid accidents. This means traveling at a safe speed, being extra cautious in crowded areas and generally taking the safety of all individuals into account.

Before heading out on the water, boat owners should contact a HUB International broker to explore their insurance options and to design a policy for their specific needs. HUB specializes in boat insurance including coverage for small dinghies, large yachts, charter boats, racing sailboats and everything in between.