What to Look For When Buying a Boat


Whether you want a commercial fishing vessel or a tubing towboat for weekends with the family, here are five things to consider before you purchase a boat.

Many folks dream of owning a boat, enjoying days spent relaxing on the water, fishing with friends, or taking the kids out to the lake. And who wouldn’t? If you’re ready to turn the dream into reality, you’ll need to pick the right boat for your budget, as it’s a large financial investment. Not only that, but boats require regular upkeep, maintenance, and time commitment. It’s important to be sure the boat you purchase is the right one for your finances and your long-term goals before diving in.

With the help of Travelers Insurance, here are a few questions to consider before moving forward with your boat purchase.  

How (and How Often) Would You Use the Boat?

You first want to consider how you’d use the boat. Would it be for tubing, water skiing, or wakeboarding? Would it simply be for a little R&R? There are many ways you can use a boat, and your intended use will determine exactly what type of boat you’ll need as well as how often you can use it.

You might want a boat for:

  • Fishing
  • Entertaining
  • Sailing
  • Water sports and swimming
  • Weekend trips and adventures

Once you know how you’ll use the boat, that should determine when you can use it, too. If you’re planning to use it for fishing, consider how long the fishing season lasts in your area. When is the weather nice enough for swimming and water sports? You should also think about your personal and household schedules. When would work and school allow for boating activities? How often could you potentially get away for a trip to the local waterway?

You want to maximize your boat’s use to make the most of your investment.

Is the Boat You Want Right for Your Location?

You’ll also want to consider your accessibility to bodies of water. Are you near a lake or ocean you could use for boating? Are those waterways appropriate for how you intend to use the boat? For example, is the lake safe for swimming? Is fishing allowed? Ideally, you want at least one or two solid bodies of water you can easily access to make the most of your purchase. You should also think about your location in terms of docking, marina, and slip options. 

What Type of Boat Would You Need?

You’ll next want to consider what type of boat would best serve your needs. There are dozens of boating options you can choose from, including sailboats, motorboats, pontoons, fishing boats, ski boats, cabin cruisers, and even larger yachts.

You’ll want to consider these factors when determining the type of boat you’ll buy:

  • Use: Different boats serve different purposes. Just like you wouldn’t choose a sports car for drives through rugged terrain, you wouldn’t pick a bass boat for skiing or wakeboarding. The type of boat you choose should be uniquely suited to how you intend to use it.
  • Size: How many people will be on the boat at once? Will you need room for fishing gear, bait, and fish you might catch? Will you be sleeping on board? These will all influence the size and scope of your vessel.
  • Age and Condition: Both new and used boats are viable options. Which one falls into your price range? Which meets your needs and your long-term goals? Be sure to factor in price, maintenance, and upkeep here (older boats will likely need more repairs than newer ones).

Finally, storage should play a role as well. Does the boat need to fit on a trailer or within a specific storage unit area? Will you be hitching it to the back of your truck or SUV? Can you store it in your yard or driveway? These are all things that can influence the type and size of boat you should purchase.

What’s the Cost to Own a Boat?

Of course, you’ll want to consider the price of the boat, as well as your overall boat-buying budget. But there’s more than just the sticker price to think about.

In addition to the up-front cost of your boat, there are other expenses you’ll need to cover along the way. These include things like:

  • Maintenance
  • Docking, slip, and marina fees
  • Storage units
  • Trailers and hitches
  • Gear
  • Accessories
  • Fuel

You’ll also need to allow room in your budget for boat insurance (more on this below). Boat insurance can protect not only your financial investment in the boat but also the people with whom you’ll enjoy your boating adventures.

What Insurance Would You Need?

As with any serious investment of your hard-earned money, it’s important to fully insure your boat against potential damage and other claims. Boat insurance costs vary depending on the type and size of your boat, as well as its use, the amount of liability coverage you choose, and other factors. You also might want to consider insuring any major accessories for your boat, like trailers, water skis, fishing equipment, and other onboard items.

Boat insurance can be used to cover:

  • Physical damage to your vessel
  • Injuries occurring on your boat or as the result of a boating collision
  • Loss or damage to personal property on board the boat
  • Damage to other vessels
  • Reimbursement for towing and other forms of emergency assistance

Before purchasing a boat, it’s important to get a quote for what your potential boat insurance costs will be. This will help you best estimate the total expenses of boat ownership moving forward.

Protect Your Investment

Now that you know what to look for when buying a boat, be sure to protect it. Boat insurance is a smart move; not only can it help protect your boat against damage, but it can also help protect you from liability for onboard injuries and other losses incurred on your boat. Many marinas and boat finance companies may require insurance on your boat to ensure there’s coverage if a mishap occurs.

To get more information on what boat insurance covers or what insurance costs you can expect as a boat owner, reach out to the Feltner Group for an estimate. As independent brokers, we work for you, not the insurance companies, and are dedicated to helping you get the best possible coverage at a great price.