What is Boat Insurance?
Taking a boat out on the water is fun but comes with inherent risks. Thousands of boating accidents happen every year, and a number of them involve substantial property damage, severe injuries and/or deaths. Boat insurance isn’t a replacement for necessary safety equipment and smart captaining, but it can help boat owners in Massachusetts financially recover if something happens while they’re on the water.
Boat insurance policies are specialized personal policies that have been specifically designed to mitigate risks that are inherent with boating. Most policies are similar to auto insurance policies in some areas, but there are also significant differences between the two types of policies.
Who in Massachusetts Should Have Watercraft Insurance?
Most boat owners in Massachusetts should strongly consider purchasing watercraft coverage.
For boat owners who have large or expensive boats, getting coverage is frequently an obvious decision. Replacing an expensive boat would be a costly proposition, and insurance generally helps make sure boat owners don’t have to pay the full cost if their vessel is destroyed in a covered incident. Additionally, boat owners who have loans on their vessel are frequently required by their loan’s terms to carry coverage.
For boat owners who have small and inexpensive boats, such as one-person sailboats and old outboards, watercraft insurance may be a less obvious choice. In these situations, coverage for the boat itself may not be necessary if the boat is cheap enough to replace without making a substantial financial outlay.
Even when using these types of vessels, however, there’s still risk of an on-water accident that results in major injury or death. This generally creates a liability risk for the boat owner, and an insurance policy might help reduce any potential liability.
What Coverages Are Included in Watercraft Insurance Policies?
As mentioned, watercraft insurance policies are similar to and diverge from auto insurance policies at points. The commonalities and differences are evident in watercraft policies’ coverages.
Some of the coverages that auto insurance policies usually offer and watercraft policies may also make available include:
Medical Payments Coverage, which often covers injuries to passengers
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage, which often covers injuries to people outside a boat
Comprehensive and Collision Coverage, which often covers damage to a boat
Property Damage Liability Coverage, which often covers damage to others’ property
Some coverages that are specific to watercraft policies include:
Coverage for on-boat tackle and gear
Coverage for on-boat safety equipment
Coverage for on-water towing
Coverage for recovering a sunken boat
(As is true with auto insurance policies, the exact coverages make available by watercraft policies can vary.)
Can Boat Owners Drop Coverage During the Winter Months?
Dropping watercraft coverage altogether during the winter months isn’t necessarily wise, for it creates at least two potential risks.
First, dropping coverage often leaves boat owners without protection if their boat is damaged or destroyed while it’s in storage. If a tree falls on the boat or something else happens, the repair or replacement costs likely have to be made out of pocket.
Second, dropping coverage may create a coverage gap that could increase future watercraft insurance rates. Insurers sometimes look at coverage history when setting policies’ premiums, and having a gap in coverage might result in higher premiums.
Boat owners who would like to lower their watercraft policy premiums during winter should speak with an insurance agent who specializes in this type of insurance. An informed agent will know how to adjust coverages so that premiums are lowered but all necessary protections are kept in place.