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Navigating Boat Insurance - Safety Tips to Help You Enjoy Boat Season

Disclaimer: Informational statements regarding insurance coverage are for general description purposes only. These statements do not amend, modify or supplement any insurance policy. This website does not make any representations that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss, or type of claim or loss, under any policy. Whether coverage exists or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any policy depends on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss and all applicable policy wording.

family boating on Lake George in Northern NY
Northern Insuring's Patrick Kowalczyk and his family enjoy a boat ride on beautiful Lake George.

Ahoy there! Ready to make a splash this summer on your boat?

Look, we get it. There's nothing quite like floating on the water with the sun on your face and a cool breeze in your hair.

But here's the thing: even seasoned sailors need to think about safety and insurance coverage. Don't let unexpected costs sink you like a stone.

Hop aboard and let's explore some tips to stay afloat (and we promise - that's the last pun).

Basic Boat Safety Tips

Boating season is here, and you can already feel the sun rays kissing your skin as you imagine yourself spending a tranquil day on a peaceful lake with your loved ones.

A day on the water promises lots of adventure and excitement, but it also requires some basic safety measures.

Start with the basics: life jackets, throwable floatation devices, fire extinguishers, and proper boat lighting.

Inspect your boat's bilge pump, engine, and electrical systems. Make sure you have a first aid kit, charts, and navigation tools. And remember - alcohol and boating don't mix.

Everybody on board should know some basic safety procedures, like what to do in case of capsizing or man overboard. Take a boating safety course if you haven't already. All of these precautions will not only keep you and your passengers safer but also make potential insurers more confident.

Now that you're confident in your safety prep, it's time to choose insurance coverage. You have options, which we'll explore in more detail below.

Types of Boat Insurance

In case something happens to your boat, you want to be sure you’re covered. There are two general types of policies - agreed value and actual cash value.

Agreed Value Policy - An Agreed Value Policy, also known as a “Stated Value” policy, is a type of boat insurance in which the insurer and the owner agree on a fixed amount of money that will be paid out to the owner in case the vessel is lost, stolen, or destroyed.

The agreed amount is based on the boat's current market value, and it remains the same throughout the policy term, even if the boat's value depreciates. This type of policy is perfect for people who have high-valued boats or boats that are difficult to replace, such as family heirlooms.

Actual Cash Value Policy - An Actual Cash Value Policy is a type of boat insurance in which the insurer pays out the current market value of the boat at the time of the loss. The current market value is usually calculated by considering the age, condition, and depreciation of the boat.

While this policy may seem less attractive than an agreed-value policy, it can be a more affordable option for those who don't have high-end vessels.

What Kinds of Boats Are Covered by Boat Insurance?

Boat insurance can cover more than just your typical motorboats. It can also cover sailboats, yachts, and even personal watercraft like jet skis.

If it floats and has a motor, chances are you can get coverage for it. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to ensure your particular vessel is covered.

What Kinds of Boats Are Covered by Boat Insurance?

Before we take a deep dive - okay, really, that's the last pun! - into what's covered under boat insurance, we'll lead with this caveat - it always depends. Like any other insurance policy, no two boat insurance policies are exactly the same.

That's why it's so important to have an in-depth conversation with your insurance agent about what you need, want, and don't want as part of your plan. In general, however, there are a few common features you might see as part of your coverage plan.

Physical Damage

Your boat is susceptible to damage due to accidents, theft, or vandalism. Physical damage coverage is added to ensure your boat repairs are taken care of, depending on the type of policy you have. This coverage has different categories, depending on your boat's type and age.

For instance, the policy can cover damages to your boat's hull, machinery, equipment, and any damage caused by a collision.

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage is an essential part of boat insurance, ensuring you are protected against lawsuits arising from accidents caused by you or your boat. It can cover property damage or injury caused by your boat, including damages in water-skiing accidents and collisions with other boats, people, or even docks.

Medical Payments Coverage

This coverage can handle all expenses incurred while treating injuries resulting from an accident. Medical reimbursements can help pay for the medical bills of you or your passengers.


Salvage coverage is all about retrieving your damaged boat in case of a covered accident. It caters for financial costs incurred in salvaging or removing your boat after an accident or a mishap like hitting a reef.

Uninsured Watercraft Coverage

This coverage ensures you are protected in case you are hit by an uninsured boat. Your policy can cover damages caused by an uninsured boat and can help you cover medical bills, property damage bills, and any other damages you incur.

Coverage for Other Components

Beyond the protection of your boat, you may want to have your trailer, accessories, equipment, towing, and any other items covered under your insurance. Again, this isn't standard, but can often be added.

What Does Boat Insurance Not Cover?

While every policy is different, many boat insurance policies don't cover damage caused by normal wear and tear (though it is certainly possible to find this as an add-on - it's just not a standard feature of most policies).

This means if your boat is damaged due to everyday use, such as corrosion or cracking due to age, your insurance won't cover it. However, if your boat is damaged due to sudden and unexpected situations, like hitting a submerged object or getting in a collision, you're likely covered.

Boat insurance also typically doesn't cover any personal belongings on board your boat. That means if you have expensive fishing gear or electronics, those items won't be covered under your standard boat insurance policy. You may want to consider adding extra coverage specifically for these items.

Another thing to keep in mind is that boat insurance doesn't usually cover mechanical failures or breakdowns. If your engine fails, that's not something that would typically be covered by your insurance policy. However, if your engine fails and causes damage to your boat, that damage may be covered.

Finally, it's important to note that boat insurance doesn't necessarily cover damage or injuries that happen when using your boat for business purposes. So if you're using your boat to make money, such as taking people out on fishing charters or giving boat tours, you'll need a separate insurance policy for that - typically one meant for commercial purposes.

Is My Boat Covered Under My Homeowners' or Renters' Policy?

Most homeowners' or renters' policies do offer some limited coverage for boats.

For example, if your boat is stolen from your property, it may be covered under your homeowners' or renters' policy. If your boat is damaged while parked on your property, it may also be covered.

However, these policies usually have low limits, which may not be enough to cover all of your boating-related expenses. In some cases, they only cover smaller, non-motorized watercraft like kayaks and canoes.

What Are the Boat Insurance Requirements by State?

Boaters in New York are not required to have liability insurance like drivers are. However, that's not to say you don't need it. A common misconception is that driving a boat isn't as dangerous as driving a passenger vehicle.

The reality is this - watercraft accidents are far more common than vehicular ones.

The American Boating Association reports there were more than 5,000 watercraft accidents in 2020 alone, resulting in nearly 3200 injuries. Take the time to protect yourself with the right policy!

Final Thoughts

As you continue to enjoy your boating adventures, remember to keep your insurance policy up-to-date. Review it annually, especially if you've made significant changes to your boat or navigational habits.

Don't let surprise bills or accidents catch you off guard. With a little preparation, you can enjoy the open water with confidence. Get in touch with Northern Insuring Agency today. We can help you figure out which boat coverages you need to enjoy your time on the water this summer.

Need help? Contact the team at Northern Insuring Agency. Our professionals can help you figure out which home based business coverage will be the best option to help you grow your business - without having to worry about red tape or restrictions.

Get in touch today for a quote! Northern Insuring will simplify the complicated...for insurance.



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