Not all boat insurance policies are alike. There are good boat insurance policies and there are bad ones. However, most people don’t know the difference between the two. This simple 10 point checklist will help you determine if your boat insurance policy is adequate, or if you need to do some shopping around for better coverage.
Boat insurance policies are set up in one of two ways: one way is setting it up by itself as a stand-alone exclusive boat insurance policy. The other way is to add it as an attachment to your homeowner’s insurance policy. You’ll see me refer to this throughout this article… 9 times out of 10, a stand-alone boat insurance policy is better than a boat insurance policy attached to homeowners insurance. Boat insurance policies are similar to snowflakes, in that no two boat insurance policies are alike. This checklist will help you know what to look for been finding the best boat insurance coverage.
1. No crazy restrictions about where it is moored or how it is used. Examples of this include:
2. Coverage for personal property. This includes items such as life vests, flotation devices, skis and your personal property that you bring on the boat with you. As you already know, the costs of these items can get really pricey. But many boat insurance companies do not offer coverage on personal property. However, a good boat insurance policy will offer coverage for personal property.
3. Agreed value coverage vs. Actual cash value coverage. There is often a big difference between these two as far as how your boat is valued. Agreed value coverage is far better to have than actual cash value coverage. But not all boat insurance policies offer agreed value coverage.
4. Liability coverage for fuel spillage and debris removal. Many boat insurance policies will only cover you for liability if you cause bodily injury or property damage. Only a good boat insurance policy will cover you if you are responsible for fuel spillage and/or debris removal as the result of an accident.
5. Uninsured motorists and medical payments coverage. While both of these are usually covered on any type of vehicle insurance policy, some boat insurance companies do not include them. Both are very important coverages to have if you were to be injured in a boating accident. Any good boat insurance company and will offer both of these coverages.
6. No crazy mileage restrictions. Many boat insurance companies only cover you a short distance radius from where your boat is garaged or moored. Be careful of this! A good boat insurance policy will cover you at least 75 miles away, with the option to increase that if you need to go farther.
7. Trailer coverage. Almost anyone who owns a boat also owns a trailer to go with it. Trailers are not cheap to replace but they are cheap to insure. It’s always a good idea to have coverage on your trailer, and a good boat insurance policy will include the option for you to add trailer coverage.
8. Coverage on accessory equipment. This includes things such as stereo systems, depth or navigation equipment, lighting etc. A good boat insurance policy will include free accessory coverage up to a certain amount (usually 2000 to 3000 dollars), with the option to purchase more coverage if you need it.
9. GAP or total loss coverage. This only applies to new boats and boats that are nearly new. But for new boats this coverage is a must-have! Some companies are offered GAP coverage, others offer Total Loss coverage. They are nearly the same thing and both are offered as a way to protect you from your boat’s depreciation. For those of you who have your boat financed, it’s a great way to defend against being upside down on a loan in the event of a total loss.
10. Roadside assistance coverage. You never know when your boat might break down and you will need some help. Roadside assistance coverage is usually great for this with the better boat insurance companies. You’ll need to take a close look at your policy because roadside assistance coverage can be very different from one policy to the next. But with most boat insurance policies, this coverage is pretty cheap and worth having.
Summary: There are good boat insurance policies out there, and there are some bad ones too. But it’s hard to tell a good policy from a bad one without knowing what to look for. This 10 point checklist should go a long way in helping you know what to look for. It might take a little digging and reading what’s exactly on your boat insurance policy. But waiting for a claim to happen is a terrible time to find out that you’ve had lousy coverage all along.
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Dan Lyles is an Independent Insurance Agent serving Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia..