What is Boat Insurance?
Operating watercraft of any sort comes with certain risks, for there are thousands of boating accidents each year. Boat insurance won’t do anything to stop an accident, but it can provide California boaters with important financial protection if something does happen on the water.
Boat insurance is somewhat similar to car insurance, but there are also notable differences between the two policy types. Boat policies are adapted for boating and on-water risks.
Who in California should carry Watercraft Insurance?
Most California residents who own a boat or personal watercraft probably should have watercraft insurance. Boaters can be dangerously exposed to risk if they have no insurance, and it’s even required in some cases. Loans commonly require insurance against damage, and many marinas require at least some liability insurance before a slip can be rented.
Moreover, boaters generally should consider purchasing insurance regardless of the size, power or value of their vessel. A major accident can occur in a canoe or a yacht, and any accident involving serious injury or drowning can create substantial liability risk. Insurance may help protect against such risk.
What coverages are available through Watercraft Insurance Policies?
The similarities and differences between watercraft insurance and car insurance are most evident in the coverages offered.
Some of the coverages that watercraft policies and auto policies frequently both offer are:
- Medical Payments Coverage: May cover injuries to persons on the insured watercraft
- Bodily Injury Liability Coverage: May cover injuries to persons not on the watercraft
- Collision and Comprehensive Coverage: May cover damage to the watercraft
- Property Damage Liability Coverage: May cover damage to other vessels or property
Some of the more boating-specific coverages that watercraft policies might offer are:
- Coverage for safety gear stored on the watercraft
- Coverage for sports gear and fishing tackle stored on the watercraft
- Coverage for on-water towing to a marina/launch
- Coverage for recovery if the watercraft sinks
An insurance broker who specializes in watercraft policies can explain what protections each of these coverages usually provides in more detail. They also can provide examples where different coverages might apply.
Are boats covered by Homeowners Insurance?
Some homeowners insurance policies offer coverage for boats, but coverage isn’t always provided and can be quite limited even when included in a policy’s protections. In many cases where coverage is provided, it’s limited to small boats with low-powered or no engines (e.g. canoes, kayaks, dinghies, single-person sailboats).
Additionally, homeowners policies sometimes have reduced limits for boating-related claims. This can apply to even small boats, and it’s a major reason why most boaters should consider additional insurance. At least, they generally should check their homeowners policy’s protections with an experienced broker.
Is Watercraft Insurance needed when renting a Boat?
Boat rentals create complex insurance situations. Insurance usually ought to be procured but might be purchased via several different options. It could be available through an existing boat policy, a standard policy included with the rental, an optional policy purchased through the rental, or a new boat policy purchased through a broker. Some coverage may even occasionally be provided by a homeowners policy or credit card.
An insurance broker who knows watercraft policies well can help renters determine their current coverage and decide how to purchase any additional protection that’s needed for the duration of a rental.
How can California boaters get Boat Insurance?
For help insuring a boat in California, contact the independent insurance brokers at Heffernan Walton Insurance. Our brokers will help you find the boat insurance that you need, and we can recommend the best available policy regardless of what company offers it.