Getting out on the water should be carefree, but owning and running a boat brings several financial risks. Watercraft insurance means you can stop worrying about those risks and get back to relaxing on your boat.
Boat insurance (or watercraft insurance) policies usually have two standard elements, with two optional extras that are worth considering. One standard feature is insurance coverage for physical damage to the boat, whether that be from a collision, fire, severe weather, theft or vandalism. The other standard feature in a boat insurance policy is liability, meaning you’re covered for damage you cause to other boats or people, along with the associated legal costs. Look for insurance policies that cover the costs of cleaning up any oil spillages if your boat is severely damaged, as well.
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What happens when someone operating their personal watercraft hits you and doesn’t have enough liability insurance to cover the damage or cost of injuries? If the other party cannot pay, you could be left incurring out of pocket expenses.
Uninsured/underinsured boater insurance coverage may pay for damage if you are in a boating accident with another boater who has no insurance or does not have adequate insurance. This coverage can pay for physical or bodily injury damages.
If your boat breaks down or runs out of fuel while you’re out on the water, you may need to have it towed or to have fuel brought to you.
Towing and assistance coverage can help cover expenses associated with assistance in the event your boat breaks down, needs to be towed, or needs to be refueled.
Your boat or watercraft likely holds personal items and various types of equipment including fishing gear, safety equipment, water skis, deck chairs, and other items. If such items are stolen from your boat, they can be quite costly to replace.
Personal property and unattached equipment insurance can pay for personal property that you leave in your boat in the event it is stolen.
In the event of a collision or salvage operation, it’s possible that your boat or watercraft could leak or spill fuel into the water. You can be held liable for the damage you cause or are responsible for in such situations.
Pollution and fuel spill liability coverage provides protection if you are held responsible for a fuel leak or spill. This policy can pay for costs associated with cleanup and restoration.
Some collisions and accidents are so severe, your vessel may need to be recovered from the water. In other cases, it’s possible a vessel could sink.
Recovery and salvage insurance provides funds to help recover your watercraft in the event of a collision or if your vessel were to sink.
If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, you may opt to haul your boat out of the water or have it moved if a named storm is headed your way.
In the event you decide to haul your boat out during a hurricane, this coverage will pay for the cost of the emergency haul out. It can also cover costs associated with moving the boat to a safer harbor. Coverage generally includes fees for marina professionals and their services, captains, and dock masters.
You invite guests on to your boat and someone falls off, becoming permanently injured. They hire a lawyer and after a long legal battle, you and your family are left financially responsible for their injuries. Do you have enough money in savings to cover your legal responsibilities as well as the legal defense costs?
An umbrella or excess liability policy increases your personal liability limits by adding protection over and above your current boat policy and providing real financial value as well as peace of mind. Excess liability insurance is available either by an endorsement to your homeowners policy or available as a separate coverage.
Regardless of whether your watercraft is operated on a lake, river, bay, or ocean, there is always the risk of causing damage to someone else’s property. For example, you could be trying to dock your boat on a windy day when you hit against another boat or the dock and cause damage.
Property damage liability coverage protects you if your watercraft damages someone else’s property such as a boat or watercraft, a dock, or pilings. Damage could easily reach in the tens of thousands, and without the proper level of insurance, you can be left financially ruined if found at fault.
If your watercraft is damaged in an accident with another vessel or a collision with a dock, rock, or submerged object, the expenses associated with repair or replacement could be substantial. Your boat could also be damaged due to vandalism, explosions or fire, weather-related causes, or falling objects.
Physical damage coverage has two parts: collision (when your vessel collides with another vessel or object) and comprehensive (when your vessel is damaged due to vandalism and weather or is stolen). This coverage usually carries a deductible that you are responsible to pay before the policy begins to pay.
Boats and watercraft can vary widely in price and value. If a loss occurs, the type of insurance policy you have can make a great deal of difference when it comes to the amount the insurance company will pay.
Because boats depreciate in value over time, the amount they are worth can be quite different than the amount it would cost to replace it. Agreed value refers to an amount agreed upon between the policyholder and the insurance company. In the case of a loss, the policy will pay the agreed value of the vessel, even if it has depreciated in value since the policy was written. Actual value refers to the value of the vessel at the time of the loss, which could leave the boat owner to pay the difference between what the insurance company will pay and the cost of a new boat.
One optional element of watercraft insurance is coverage for theft of or damage to your personal possessions kept or used on your boat. This is well worth considering when you think about the costs of sports or fishing equipment and expensive gadgets. You can also get optional boat towing and assistance coverage that protects you against the costs that come up if your boat breaks down while out on the water.
Spending time on the water is fun. Talk with us about getting the proper boat insurance coverage in place today.
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