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Boat and Watercraft Insurance

Today we will be discussing North Carolina boat insurance. This is the time of year when the weather starts warming up and everyone starts spending more time outside. Those with boats are excited to get their boat from wherever it is being winterized and drop it back in the water or gas it up to be ready to go out when the weather allows. As a fellow boat owner, I can attest for that feeling of a bear coming out of his cave from a long winter of hibernating and ready to enjoy mother nature. This bear, however, likes to cruise on the water at 50 MPH.

Whether you are new to boating or you have been doing it since you were a kid, there are some watercraft insurance items that you should familiarize yourself with.

In NC, small boats with very low horsepower may be covered under your home insurance. Think small bass boats, row boats, and kayaks. You will want to check with your insurance agent to find out if your boat can be added to your home policy first. Typically anything with any considerable amount of speed and/or length will need a separate policy though.

Waverunners and jet skis normally will have a separate policy that would be separate from your home insurance policy. These types of personal watercraft are typically inexpensive and can cover you for liability, comprehensive, and collision losses. Most companies allow multiple personal watercrafts on the same policy too which makes paying them easier to stay on top of.

Boats, like vehicles, are rated based on the value, speed, and location of the boat. In addition, items like driver record, prior boat insurance, boating experience, credit, and multiple policies with the same company will also play a role in your overall rate.

When calling for a boat insurance quote you should have the same info that you would need to have when requesting an auto insurance quote such as address, serial number, and driver info.

You will also need to know the horsepower of the boat as this will make a difference in your rate. If you own a trailer be sure to have this info available as well.

 

We will discuss the following types of coverage that you can choose on your boat insurance policy:

 

  • Liability
  • Uninsured boater coverage
  • Physical damage (comprehensive and collision)
  • Emergency watercraft towing
  • Personal effects

 

Liability Insurance

Probably the most important kind of insurance for boats would be liability insurance. Imagine running your boat into a dock full of sunbathers or another boat full of people. The bodily injury from such a loss could be substantial. That is why you should consider having higher limits on your boat. Aside from the risk of being sued, you may find that choosing higher limits may not increase your premium at all or if it does the rate increase could be very minimal. Certain boat insurance providers have certain minimum premiums that must be met and increasing your limits will carry the same premium as the lower limits of liability. I suggest asking your agent to provide you with premium differences for choosing higher limits. My current limits of liability on my boat are at $250,000 bodily injury for each person, $500,000 bodily injury for each accident, and $100,000 property damage.

 

Uninsured Boater Coverage

This is very similar to uninsured motorist coverage on your auto policy. Put simply, this covers you for bodily injury to you and your passengers and property damage to your boat if you are hit by an uninsured boater.

You would be surprised at how many people with boats are not insured. It is this reason why we don’t personally sell boat insurance without this coverage. Typically whatever your limits of insurance you have chosen for your liability part of your boat policy will match the uninsured boater coverage.

Also if the person that hit you only carries the minimum limits of insurance and you carry higher limits, you will be covered up to your higher limits where their limits leave off. This is commonly referred to under-insured boater coverage and is only available if you choose higher limits of liability. The cost of this type of insurance is extremely inexpensive and therefore highly suggested that it is added to your policy.

 

Physical Damage

Physical damage covers the comprehensive and collision losses on your boat. This is just like your auto policy. Theft, vandalism, and weather related losses are the most common types of claims that will be filed under comprehensive coverage. Your boat colliding with a dock, rock, boat, land, or pretty much anything else will be filed under your collision coverage.

You will be paid the value of your boat which can be determined by a valuation similar to Kelly Blue Book or an agreed value based on your estimate of what your boat is worth minus whatever deductible amount you choose. The higher the deductible you choose, the lower the insurance premium.

Trailers can be covered under your boat insurance as well so if you have one you should report that to your agent so they can account for that being covered as well. A lower deductible can sometimes be chosen for your trailer.

 

Emergency Watercraft Towing

On-water towing is much more expensive than having your auto towed. The overall rate will depend on how far your boat must be towed and what lake or ocean you are on. I would recommend having coverage for at least $300 per incident.

There are programs out there similar to AAA Motor Club on an auto policy that will provide you unlimited towing on the water if you pay for a predetermined premium up front but typically having it added to your boat insurance policy is less expensive and works nearly as well.

 

Personal Effects

Certain companies will provide coverage for personal items like skiing or fishing equipment if they are stolen or various other losses occur. You will need to check with your agent to see what types of coverage you can choose and what these premiums would be to see if this coverage is right for you.

Please contact us at 704-494-9495 if you have any questions regarding boat and watercraft insurance or if you would like us to quote our various companies for your best possible rate.