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Your boat is one of your most valuable assets, but can be one of the most vulnerable and can be involved in catastrophic accidents. This guide is intended to describe insurance for boats for private pleasure use and not used for commercial purposes. If you are interested in insurance for commercial operation of boats, contact your insurance producer to discuss other insurance, including marine insurance.
Your style of life may center on your boat and if lost due to fire, windstorm or lawsuit, you want to have the appropriate coverage to replace or repair the boat to use again. Although your homeowners policy may provide some coverage for small boats, it is usually very limited with coverage as low as $1,000 to pay for physical damage to a boat, outboard motor, trailer and accessories. In addition, if you are in an accident with damage to any other property or if any one is hurt, you are liable for the costs of all damages.
As you consider any insurance, you should be aware that an insurance policy is a legal contract describing the promise an insurance company gives you in return for your payment of regular premiums. Insurance is not a bank account in which your premiums are stored; it is a legal promise that an insurance company will pay for the costs of certain identified losses that may occur during the policy period. The insurance you buy will cover your boat for a specific period of time, usually for a year or for a boating season.
To truly understand a particular type of coverage, you should take the time to learn what is and what is not covered. The insurance company offering the coverage or its producer should be able to help you with an analysis of the appropriate coverage for your situation, but it is up to you to choose the right policy to protect your own assets. It is important that you read your coverage carefully to determine your exact coverage, as well as your rights and responsibilities under the coverage.
There are appendices associated with this guide, including a glossary of commonly used terms such as those that appear in bold throughout the guide (Appendix A) and a record of any boat insurance policy that you may purchase (Appendix B).