As the summer continues to heat up beaches from coast to coast, nearly 17 million boat owners and 1.6 million personal watercraft owners are having fun on the water. Unfortunately, many don’t have the right insurance in place and risk running into rough waters.
Watercraft owners also need to consider coverage for their boats and trailers while parked at home. An existing homeowner’s policy may provide a measure of coverage, but it’s likely to be limited and may not apply at all for damages while stored at your home. Other risks such as theft and vandalism also need to be considered.
State insurance requirements for boats and personal watercraft vary, so it’s important to understand local requirements. In some places boat insurance may not be mandatory, so coverage for losses caused by uninsured boaters may be wise.
As with a home inventory, boat owners may be well served by documenting the vessel. For example, it is a good idea to take pictures and or video of the boat and to store these items in a place other than your home. A written description can further document the boat, supplemented by model and serial numbers of key mechanical and electronic items.
“Whether you own a powerboat, sailboat, personal watercraft or canoe, it’s smart to review your insurance coverage with a trusted independent agent to determine if you need additional coverage,” says Mark Desrochers, president of personal lines at The Hanover Insurance Group. “Taking the time to talk with an independent agent also will offer peace of mind that the right protection is in place if something goes wrong.” Do you have coverage when your vessel is off-the-water? Are you in compliance with what your state requires? Have you taken inventory?
Another policy consideration is whether the boat is covered at an “agreed value” or “market value” in the event of a total loss. Agreed value is more commonly applied to newer boats, while market value is generally the basis for settling the loss of older vessels. So, if you had agreed value when your boat was new, but you have had it on the water for several years, you may be over-paying.