When looking at boat insurance cost it's easy to overlook some important information, especially for new boat owners.
Firstly, do you need insurance? According to the US Coast Guard, there were 4463 reported recreational boating accidents in 2016.
Although that number is not high compared to the total number of boats, the consequences are sometimes tragic: 701 people lost their lives and $49 million worth of damage occurred.
So - if you need cover - how do you choose the right insurance policy?
Paying less is usually an attractive option - unless you are worse off in the future. As you will see below, there are some important questions which should be asked before deciding on insurance for your boat. There are also several things you can do to make your boat safer for you and your family and which will help lower your premium.
Insurance is important - so how do you choose a good policy?
We asked some experienced boat owners - including professional skippers with many years of boat ownership about insurance. What advice would they give to those looking at boat insurance cost?
We also asked some specialist marine insurance agencies for their advice about choosing the right policy.
This post is based on what we learned.
Although it applies more to yachts and cruisers than trailer boats, the message is to check the details of your cover.
Here's some important things to be aware of when arranging Boat Insurance.
You may be able to reduce your boat insurance cost if you:
- Have your boat inspected by a professional marine surveyor - such as a member of the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors
- Upgrade your boating skills by taking a relevant course such as offered by BoatUS
- Ensure that your boat has appropriate safety gear including fire extinguishers and life saving equipment.
Our respondents also raised the following important points:
- Hurricane haul out - some insurers may require you to haul your boat in the event of a 'named' serious weather event
- Geographical coverage - check that your next cruise is covered before you leave
- Consequential damage or loss.
More on these below.
When considering boat insurance cost, a 'cheaper' policy may become costly you when you make a claim.
Hurricane haul out
Some 63,000 recreational boats were damaged by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The estimated cost of boat only damage of these two events was over $655 million.
Consequently, in the event of a hurricane, the insurance industry wants to manage their exposure to this risk.
Some insurance companies require you to haul your boat out in the event of a 'Named' hurricane or major weather event.
Some will share cost of haul out. This makes sense as it's much less expensive to haul a boat out for a few days than to repair a smashed one.
Consider this: Are you in a Hurricane zone? How far do you live from your marina?
Does your marina (or the one you will use) have a Hurricane Plan? What is it?
In the event of a Named Hurricane or major storm event, what will they do to help protect your boat?
Look for insurance policies which covers the cost of a haul out for a named Hurricane or similar weather event.
Many of us have a plan to retire and sail away for a while.
The thought of cruising down to Mexico, across to the Caribbean or up to Canada and Alaska is very tempting.
For Europeans, the Mediterranean with all its attractions is very compelling.
Sensible boatowners would have a checklist of safety gear and provisions before setting of on a cruise - even a short one.
Insurance policies usually have a limit to the area of operation of a vessel. This will be clearly described in the policy document.
So, if you are planning a cruise away from your home port, check that you are covered.
Boat Insurance Cost: Consequential loss
Our survey asked the question 'What advice about insurance do you have for new boat owners ?' Experienced boat owners replied that 'Consequential loss or damage' was an important aspect to know about and get right.
Lots of things can go wrong with a boat.
For example, water hoses or fittings can become worn or brittle and fail. That is usually not covered by insurance.
Depending on where they are on your boat, the failure could allow water in and cause serious damage to your boat. It could sink, and suffer major damage, as a consequence of the initial mechanical failure.
Depending on your insurance policy, this may be covered.
If not, then you are facing a big repair bill.
Many policies won't pay for mechanical failure (such as the hoses or fittings above) and you would be responsible for the damaged caused by water entering your boat.
If your insurance covers consequential loss, then the loss or damage as a result of the mechanical failure is covered.
Another example is when a mooring fails (usually in a storm) and the vessel becomes loose. It usually hits another boat, or runs aground. Either way there will be a repair bill. The cost of repairing damage to other boats, plus recovering and repairing the vessel can add up quickly.
So check that your policy covers 'Consequential loss'.
Insurance company direct or Specialist Agency
There are many insurance companies which offer marine or boating cover. Some offer lower priced online policies which seem to be attractive.
After all, you're applying online and you don't even need to visit their office, right?
The trouble with some policies with lower premiums, you have less chance of a payout. This means that its still profitable business for the insurance companies.
A specialist marine insurance agency usually has access to a range of companies and may be able to offer a better policy than those available online.
They can help you buy a better policy, and they'll help you with any claims.
Using a specialist marine insurance agency makes good sense. They often have access to better deals and they will help you with claims.
Boat Insurance Cost - Summary
Your insurance is there to protect you when things go wrong.
A little time talking to a specialist marine insurance agency can help you arranged the right cover.
Upgrade your skills and your boat's safety gear and you may save with lower premiums. Be aware of what is covered and any action required by you.
Good coverage will provide peace of mind so you can enjoy your boating.
The links above are for USA boat owners. Happy to add others if you wish.
Let us know your experience - leave a comment below.