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Whether you are on the road or on the water, accidents can happen. Similar to insuring your auto, purchasing a watercraft insurance policy is essential for protecting your family and your investment.

Many new boat owners mistakenly believe their homeowner’s policy covers their boating activities. However, your homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover your car or RV, so why would it cover your boat? If you were to cause an accident while on the water this summer, your homeowner’s liability coverage will not help.

Understanding Watercraft Insurance Coverage

Watercraft Insurance is important because it covers your investment in the event of an accident. More importantly, it protects you, your passengers, and others who are out on the water against costs associated with injuries.

The major elements of watercraft insurance are very similar to auto insurance:

  • Personal Liability Coverage– Similar to auto insurance, personal liability coverage provides protection for damages incurred by other boaters if you cause an accident on the water, including their property damage, medical care, lost wages, and other damages.
  • Medical Payments– This coverage provides assistance with medical bills if you or your passengers are injured during a boating accident, regardless of who is at-fault.  Talk with your insurance professional to understand whether this covers your water skiers or tubers.
  • Physical Damage Coverage– While liability coverage covers any damage to others’ property, physical damage coverage provides assistance with the cost to repair or replace your watercraft, its motor, any permanently attached equipment, and your trailer, if it is stolen or damaged.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Watercraft Bodily Injury– Not all boaters have insurance. Similar to the clause in your auto policy, uninsured/underinsured coverage pays for your medical bills, lost wages, and other costs if you or your passengers are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured watercraft.
  • Emergency Assistance– Even when you are on the water, things can happen to disable your vehicle. Whether your boat experiences a mechanical failure, an accident, or simply runs out of gas, it is important to know there is someone to help with service or a tow.

In addition to the traditional types of coverage we hear about with auto insurance policies, there are important types of coverage that are watercraft-specific. Don’t forget to take these into account when developing your well-rounded watercraft policy.

  • Navigational Area– Not all policies will cover you in international waters. If you use your boat to go long distances in the ocean, it is important to understand where your coverage ends. For instance, most policies will only cover you up to 75 miles from the U.S. coastline, and policies will vary on whether they cover you in Mexican or Canadian waters. It is almost always possible to expand your coverage area if you are planning a long-distance fishing trip.
  • Agreed Value Coverage– Similar to policies for your classic cars, developing a policy with an agreed value, as opposed to a stated value or actual cash value, provides you with a guaranteed amount of money for your boat (less your deductible) in the event of a total loss.
  • Fuel Spill Liability and Wreckage Removal– Did you know that you are responsible for any oil or fuel leaks from your damaged boat? Cleaning up these types of chemical leaks can be expensive and time consuming. It is important to make sure your watercraft insurance policy covers the clean up of a chemical spill and the cost of having a sunken boat raised and removed.
  • Personal Effects– It is important to understand which personal effects are covered under your policy and which items require additional coverage. For instance, you may need additional coverage for your expensive fishing gear or scuba equipment.
  • Unattached Equipment Coverage– It’s common to think about the cost of damage to your boat if you were to get in an accident, but it is also costly to replace equipment that is primarily used on your boat, but isn’t attached. This could include lifesaving equipment, water skis, anchors, and oars.

Before you venture out on the water this spring and summer, it is important to make sure you and your passengers are protected.

Finding the Right Coverage For You

Insurance can be complicated. At BenefitSource, we specialize in evaluating your needs and working within your budget to get you the coverage that is best for you. Even more importantly, we make sure you understand your policy. Call us directly at (877) 215-5431 or email us to set up an appointment to discuss the best type of coverage for your watercraft.

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