6 things to consider when buying boat insurance

Father and son on speedboat

A boat is an important investment at the cottage—if you’ve got a cottage on a body of water, chances are you spend a lot of time in the boat, from early morning trawls through the shallows to sunset runs around the lake.

So it makes sense to make sure that investment is protected. All boaters have—or have heard—stories of hitting the “rock that came out of nowhere,” or the water skier who tangled with the boat and lost. To make the best choice for your budget and your boat, take these questions into consideration when you’re choosing a policy.

1. How do you use your boat?

Will you be pulling water skiers or tubers? Do you regularly tow your boat long distances? Will your boat be travelling at high speeds, or will you have passengers regularly? All these circumstances will affect what you’re going to need covered. For instance, if you take passengers or roar around the lake with water skiers, make sure your policy has adequate liability coverage in case of injury. If you’re going to be towing your boat to the cottage, your policy should cover damage to the boat and trailer in the event of an accident on the road.

2. Separate policy or under your home insurance?

Don’t rely on your homeowner’s insurance to cover your boat—limitations on most home policies make coverage in the case of damage or personal injury negligible. Plus, if you moor your boat at a marina over the winter, you’ll likely be required to show proof of separate insurance.  

3. Will you need emergency towing?

Do you boat on large lakes, or will you regularly be making long trips? A breakdown on the water can be dangerous, and calling an emergency towing service can very quickly become an expensive proposition. Aside from carrying an extra fuel can for trips longer than a “three hour cruise,” an insurance policy that covers emergency towing will help keep your mind at ease.

4. Agreed value or actual cash value?

The difference between agreed value and actual cash value becomes most apparent when you file a claim for a loss. If your boat is insured for its agreed value, you are paid the amount on your plan, without depreciation. If it’s insured for its cash value, you are paid the “blue book” value of the boat and any damaged parts at the time of the loss. Agreed-value policies may cost a little more in terms of premiums, but you’re likely to be better compensated after a loss if your boat is older or has many accessories.  

5. Is your boat susceptible to vermin damage?

Although people might consider saving money by cancelling their boat insurance over the winter, this can be a bad idea. Raccoons and other pesky rodents love to spend winter in warm, sheltered boats, and they can wreak havoc on your upholstery and rigging while they’re there. Cockroaches and weevils also enjoy a cozy nest on a boat, and can be almost impossible to get rid of once they’re established. A comprehensive policy will help. This one from BOATsmart! Assure will cover your boat in the event of an infestation.

6. What special equipment do you carry on board?

Do you have downriggers, or electronic equipment on your boat? Your insurance policy should cover the cost of replacing not just the boat, but any accessories as well.

Your time at the cottage—and on your boat—is short and precious. Don’t waste a minute worrying about whether you’ll be able to absorb the cost of unexpected damage to your boat—let your insurance company worry about that so you can get back on the water.

BOATsmart! Assure is an insurance program for recreational boaters. Get a quote at boatsmartassure.com or through the BOATsmart! Connect App.