Do You Need Boat Insurance To…?


Here are a few questions to review when getting ready for a summer of fun on the water.

The National Safe Boating Council’s National Safe Boating Week (May 22-28) is quickly approaching and it’s a great time to brush up on steps you can take to stay safe out on the water. But, there’s lots you can do to prepare for a safe summer season on the water even before then! Not only should you look into life jackets and flotation devices, but you should also be sure to look into your boat insurance.

Boating Safety & Statistics

According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2019 Recreational Boating Statistics, there were over 4,150 boating accidents reported and approximately 55 million dollars in damage to property. Of those accidents, 613 ended in a fatality and over 2,550 resulted in injuries. 

Now we know what you’re thinking, “But that won’t happen to me, I’m a safe boater.” We’re sure this is true – however, 70% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had no boating safety instruction. While you may be prepared for the hazards of the open water, unfortunately, lots of other folks are not. 

Because of this, we recommend you look into state-approved boater safety instruction and DEFINITELY take the time to look into your boat insurance coverage. Here are a few questions that may be one your mind as you get ready to hit the water.

Do You Need Boat Insurance to Use Your Boat?

Much like auto insurance helps pay to repair your car if you’re in an accident—or fix someone else’s car if you’re at fault for damaging their vehicle—the same can be said for boat insurance. While boat insurance is not a “need” to have, it’s highly recommended given the wide blanket of protection it offers. 

Most boat policies are “all risk” policies, meaning the policy likely covers a broad spectrum of possible losses such as fire, theft, sinking, and even vandalism. And, as is the case with other forms of personal insurance, boat insurance is there to transfer your risk to the insurance company, allowing you to protect yourself and your passengers. 

Boat insurance helps by providing financial protection against loss in the event of damage/destruction of your boat or other boaters’ watercraft as well as liability protection for you, your passengers, or captains/passengers in other watercraft in the event of a personal injury in an accident. 

What happens if you’re involved in an accident with a boater who does not have insurance?

This is the scenario where your boaters insurance actually helps the most – you’ll be covered even if the other party is uninsured. Your insurance coverage can help pay for medical treatments and/or any other damages you would have received from the other involved party’s insurance company had they had that insurance themselves. When the other individual is at fault for the accident and doesn’t have coverage, you can file a claim under your Personal Boaters Policy for damages the “at fault” boater is liable to pay. 

Do You Need Boat Insurance to Register Your Boat?

In almost every state you will be allowed to register your boat with the DMV without having an active insurance policy on the vessel.

Are there any states that require boat insurance?

Yes, there are certain states that specify what requirements necessitate boat insurance. The only states with specific insurance laws are Arkansas, Hawaii, and Utah; for any other state, boat insurance is just strongly recommended. 

Do You Need Boat Insurance for Your Jet Ski?

Often times, you won’t need a separate policy to insure a jet ski. Not only will your boat insurance cover the boat itself, but you can often choose to protect a wide variety of other water-related extras. For example:

  • Video & audio equipment
  • Water skis, kneeboards, & tubes
  • Flotation devices
  • Anchors & paddles
  • Depth-finding devices

and much more can be included as part of your policy. This helps keep your equipment protected as well as protects against injuries that may result from partaking in these activities on the water. 

What about my boat trailer, is that covered in my boat insurance?

You should definitely look into both your automobile and boat insurance to make sure your trailer is covered. Typically boat insurance would cover physical damage to the boat trailer, but it wouldn’t offer liability protection. That means if you were to accidentally cause damage to another’s vehicle or property with your boat trailer, the liability would be tied to your auto insurance instead of your boat insurance. You can often also consider getting a specialized vehicle insurance policy to cover just the trailer if you’d like.

No matter how prepared you are for boating this summer, you’re never fully ready to go without reviewing your insurance options. If you have any doubts, feel free to contact us. As independent brokers, we work for our clients, not the insurance companies, which means we’re dedicated to helping you get the coverage you need at the best rates possible.