Unlike car insurance, the state of California doesn’t require you to get boat insurance. But just because it isn’t mandatory doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get it!
Of course, like with any other insurance policy, it’s important to shop wisely. Here are 5 things to remember so that you can get the perfect policy:
1. It’s not only for your boat
These insurance policies will cover “regular” boats like sailboats and powerboats, but you can also get coverage for your boat’s trailer or your personal watercraft (like your jet ski, for example). Just remember, these separate items may need their own separate insurance policy. Don’t assume that your boat insurance policy will automatically cover the trailer it sits on, too. It might, but you could wind up with a very expensive surprise if it doesn’t!
2. It covers a wide variety of things
The typical boat insurance policy covers damage from a collision, fire, lightning, theft, and vandalism, whether your boat is out cruising the open waters or stored on dry land. It will also cover certain items on the boat that are damaged — like the outboard motor and the permanently-attached anchor. It will also cover your personal property that happens to be onboard.
A standard boat insurance policy will also come with liability coverage so that you don’t have to foot all the bills if you crash your boat into something or if someone gets injured while riding on your boat. Just like the liability coverage that you have on your auto insurance policy, your coverage will kick in if someone is injured or if there is property damage. And, just like the liability coverage on your auto policy, you’ll have certain limits of coverage, so choose wisely!
3. There will be exclusions
Every insurance policy on the planet comes with a list of exclusions — or, specific things/situations that aren’t covered — and your boat policy will be no different. You’ll need to read the fine print on your specific policy to see what’s excluded, but you’ll likely see that your insurance company has excluded things like damage that’s caused by normal wear and tear, coverage for vessels that have been modified to affect their speed and performance, and using the boat for commercial purposes.
4. You can bundle it
Virtually all insurance companies will give you a discount if you get more than one policy from them — something that’s called “bundling” in the insurance world. But instead of just bundling your homeowners’ and auto insurance together, you can also add your boat insurance into the mix. That way, you’ll get the coverage you need and the savings you want!
5. There are plenty of other opportunities for discounts
Different companies offer different discounts, but there are some discounts that virtually every insurance company offers. One is completing a boating safety course and presenting your certificate to the insurance company.
Another big discount comes in the form of paying lower premiums during the times that your boat is “laid up”, meaning that it has been winterized and isn’t available for immediate use. Since you’re not using your boat, you’ll get to pay less each month on premiums during this “laid up” period. (And, yes, your insurance company will list specific “laid up” start and end dates in your policy!)
Another common discount applies to boats that are powered by diesel fuel, instead of regular unleaded. You can also save money by having a ship-to-shore radio and fire extinguishers that are approved by the Coast Guard.
Some insurance companies even have pre-packaged plans that can save you money, depending on how you plan to use your boat. For example, you might get a package that’s geared towards people who head out into deep waters on a regular basis. Or, you might get a package that’s specifically for people who like to take overnight boating trips. Simply tell your agent about your boating habits, and he can find discounts that apply to your specific situation.
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