small boats lined up in the water at a marina off the highway

Top 6 Tips for Finding the Best Marine Insurance

You made a significant investment to buy your boat, and now you want to be sure to protect it. Have you started looking for marine insurance yet?

Most states don’t require marine insurance. However, boat insurance is one of the best ways to avoid significant financial loss if your boat is damaged or someone aboard gets injured.

Use these tips to find the best marine insurance policy. Your boating experience will be even better knowing you’re protected.

1. Types of Watercraft That Marine Insurance Covers

Marine insurance will cover a wide variety of vessels. You may be surprised to find that your particular situation has a dedicated type of insurance. Types of policies include:

  • Boat
  • Jet ski and other personal watercraft (PWC)
  • Yacht
  • Sailboat
  • Dinghy
  • Boat and PWC rental
  • Boat clubs
  • Professional

Each type of policy has features specific to the needs of different watercraft.

2. Choosing Your Basic Marine Insurance Policy

You have three basic types of marine insurance coverage to choose from. Which type you choose will determine how much you’ll pay for the coverage and how much coverage you have.

Agreed Hull Value

Agreed hull value policies are the most common. You and your insurer agree on what the insurer will pay for your boat in the event of a total loss.

You’ll pay more in premiums, but an agreed hull value policy will pay out more too. For example, a total loss on a $50,000 boat will pay you $50,000.

In addition, if you have a partial loss, an agreed hull value policy will replace most damaged boating equipment on a “new for old” basis.

If someone steals five-year-old electronics from your boat, you’ll get new, comparable electronics as a replacement. Exceptions to the new for old rule include paint, canvas, and machinery.

Actual Cash Value

Actual cash value policies pay the market value of the boat in the event of a total loss. They factor in depreciation.

These types of policies cost less, so they appeal to cost-conscious boaters and boaters willing to pay more if there is a loss. You’ll get less money from your insurance in the event of a total or partial loss.

Liability Only

A liability policy pays for damage you cause to others. It covers bodily injury and damage to property. It doesn’t cover your boat.

However, if you don’t need hull coverage, liability only might be a good option. Most marinas require at least liability insurance if you want a slip or mooring for your boat.

3. Consider an All-Risk Policy

All-risk policies with consequential damage coverage are some of the broadest recreational marine insurance policies available. All-risk policies cover a wide range of losses from accidental causes like fire, grounding, sinking, theft, or vandalism.

With consequential damage coverage, your policy will cover some losses that result from a failed part even if the cause of the part’s failure isn’t covered.

Despite their name, these policies don’t cover every type of damage. Typical exclusions include animal damage, ice, and freezing.

4. Additional Coverage Is Often Worth the Cost

Given the exclusions in marine insurance policies, you may need additional coverage depending on how you use your boat. Many waivers and riders are available. Here are some of the options.

Total Salvage

In the event that you need to salvage your boat, you want to be sure that your policy will cover salvage costs up to the full insured value of the boat.

Look for salvage coverage limits that are separate from your hull coverage but equal the same amount. Otherwise, you may end up having to pay some of the salvage costs yourself.

Fuel Spill

Under federal law, you’re responsible for your fuel that spills for any reason. Fines, environmental damage assessments, and the cost of cleanup can be very expensive.

You should consider fuel spill coverage if your vessel has a fuel tank. It can be especially valuable if you boat near sensitive areas like coral reefs or wetlands.

Uninsured Boater

Like your auto insurance, uninsured boater coverage protects you financially if you suffer damage from a hit-and-run or uninsured boater.

You get additional coverage for bodily injuries to you and anyone else in your boat. This type of additional coverage is a good idea because many boaters are uninsured. Most states don’t require insurance.

Boat Trailer

If you are involved in an accident while towing your boat on a trailer, any damage you cause with the trailer falls under your auto insurance.

Your boat insurance may not cover any necessary repairs to the trailer after an accident either. Boat trailer coverage gives you protection in these situations.

5. Ways to Save Money on Marine Insurance

Most insurers give you a better rate if you meet certain conditions. You’ll benefit if you have a good driving record, both in your boat and in your vehicle.

Taking a boat safety course will often get you a discount. In New Jersey, anyone operating a powered vessel has to have a boating safety certificate.

If you only use your boat seasonally, you can often get a deduction. Boating in fresh water and not saltwater usually results in a lower insurance rate.

Finally, bundling your boat insurance with your home and/or car insurance can also help you save money.

6. Think Twice About Adding Marine Insurance to Your Homeowner’s Policy

You can add boat insurance to your homeowner’s policy, but this usually isn’t your best option. It’s convenient, but homeowner’s policies usually don’t provide enough marine coverage.

They often limit or don’t cover risks like salvage work, wreck removal, or environmental damage. In addition, coverage usually only applies if you’re boating in an inland waterway like a lake or river.

Benefits of a Marine Insurance Expert

Buying your marine insurance from a company that specializes in boat coverage will help ensure you get the right coverage at the right price. John B. Wright Insurance is an independent insurance agency with decades of experience in marine insurance.

We’ll get to know you and your insurance needs. Then we’ll shop the major carriers on your behalf so we can offer you the best mix of companies, coverage, and rates.

You’ll especially appreciate our expertise in boat insurance if you need to file a claim. We understand your situation and will work with you throughout the claims process.

Contact us today to request a quote. Start enjoying the peace of mind that a good marine insurance policy will give you.