We all love a day at the lake — the warm sun on your face, the sound of water against your boat, and the cool water spray as you careen across the lake looking for the perfect fishing spot or place to drop your skis. With all the fun of boating comes risk. In 2017, there were 4,291 recreational boating accidents that involved 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries, and approximately $46 million dollars of damage to property. The causes of watercraft accidents can be attributed to several factors, most of which are preventable, including:
- Traveling too fast for the conditions.
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Operator inexperience.
You can protect your passengers and your boat with safe boating practices. In addition, it is important to make sure you have the right insurance coverage in place before you take your boat or personal watercraft out on the water. Here are some things you should know about boat insurance.
Is there coverage on my homeowners policy?
Some homeowners policies offer coverage for physical damage to boats. This coverage is subject to the policy deductible and is often very limited. Liability coverage may be provided by the homeowners policy, but only for smaller vessels with horsepower below the company's limits, such as canoes, small sailboats, or small powerboats. Sometimes an endorsement can be added to the homeowners policy for coverage to watercraft that is otherwise excluded.
What about my auto policy?
The standard auto policy covers the boat trailer for liability with the option to add coverage for physical damage. The boat itself, however, is not covered for liability or damage.
Do I need a separate boat insurance policy?
You will need a separate boat owners policy if you own personal watercraft, such as jet skis, or a faster, larger boat, such as a runabout, cruiser, or yacht. This type of policy offers coverage for physical damage to the boat, property damage, theft, and medical payments. Additional coverage may be available for the boat trailer and accessories. The liability coverage under a boat policy is usually broader than the liability coverage available under a homeowners policy. Some common coverages on a boat owners policy are listed below. Some of these coverages are standard and others are optional, so it is a good idea to talk with your insurance agent to make sure your policy includes coverage that meets your specific needs.
- Physical loss or damage to the boat.
- Damage caused to someone else's property.
- Theft of the boat.
- Loss or theft of belongings.
- Trailer or boat accessories.
- Medical payments for injuries to the passengers and boat owner.
- Bodily injury to persons other than the boat owner or his/her family.
- Towing in the event of an accident.
What type of claims may be covered by a boat owners policy?
Here are a few examples of claims that may be covered by a boat owners policy. Make sure you understand your own policy and know what limits are in place.
- Your cruiser collides with a speedboat whose operator fails to yield the right of way, causing extensive damage to your boat. The owner of the speedboat does not have any insurance coverage.
- An expensive bass boat you just purchased is stolen from your home.
- Your 27-foot-long sailboat is damaged by a major hailstorm while docked at the marina.
- Your sport fishing boat is struck by lightning, incapacitating its electrical system.
- Your son's friend is injured while water skiing behind your boat.
- You negligently cause another boat to overturn to avoid a collision.
If you own or are considering purchasing a boat or personal watercraft, contact your Griffin Owens insurance advisor to ensure you have the right coverage.