When it comes to boat insurance in Virginia, it would be very difficult to find two policies exactly alike. Boat insurance policies can range from very good to very lousy as far as coverage is concerned. Without knowing what to look for, it’s nearly impossible to distinguish between a good boat insurance policy and a bad one.
This article will offer you 10 key points on what to look for on a boat insurance policy. Not all 10 key points will apply to everyone. But this will give you a good understanding of knowing how to tell how well your current boat insurance policy stacks up against other boat insurance policies.
One recurring thing you will notice deals with how you have your boat insurance policy set up. Generally speaking, an exclusive standalone boat insurance policy usually offers much better coverage than a boat insurance policy that’s attached onto a homeowners insurance policy. So if you have your boat insured under your homeowners policy, you’ll want to take a close look it at this. Chances are that you could be getting much better coverage for about the same price.
So here are 10 key points that will help you distinguish between a good boat insurance policy and a bad one:
1. Agreed value coverage vs. actual cash value coverage.
A good boat insurance policy will insure your boat on an agreed value coverage basis. This coverage is far better than having your boat insured on actual cash value basis, which factors in depreciation and market value. There is a huge difference between what the two will pay out in the event of a total loss to your boat. So make sure your boat is insured on an agreed value basis.
2. Gap coverage or total loss coverage.
This only applies if you have a brand-new boat or a boat that’s almost brand new. Some boat insurance companies will offer gap coverage, some will offer total loss coverage. But if you have a new or newer boat, it is very wise to select whichever of the two coverages are offered. Gap coverage and total loss coverage are almost the same thing. Both of them help protect you from becoming upside down on a loan in the event of a total loss. So if you’re financing your boat, it is very important to select either gap or total loss coverage, whichever the company offers.
3. Beware of unreasonable restrictions.
If you read the fine print of your boat insurance policy, be sure to look for coverage exclusions that are unreasonable. Here are just a couple examples:
4. Accessory coverage.
Just about every boat has some type of accessory equipment attached to it. This includes things such as navigation equipment, lighting, stereo equipment etc. Much of this equipment is very expensive, but can be insured for a very low price. A lousy boat insurance policy will not offer coverage on accessories. However, a good boat insurance policy will not only offer accessory coverage but in many cases, will also offer coverage for free up to a certain amount (as long as you are carrying comprehensive and collision coverage). You can also purchase higher amounts of coverage if you want with most companies as well.
5. Personal Property coverage.
Equipment that is not attached to your boat can be just as expensive, but yet very inexpensive to insure…. This includes things like safety equipment, ski’s, tubes, fishing equipment etc. A good boat insurance policy will offer personal property coverage. And the coverage vs. the cost is very well worth it.
6. Trailer coverage.
Almost all boats require a trailer to transport it. Again, this coverage is very well worth looking into. Trailers aren’t cheap either. But trailers are like accessories and personal property, in that the amount of premium to insure them is very low.
7. Liability coverage for fuel spillage and debris removal.
All boat insurance policies include liability coverage. But most policies will only pay out for injuries and property damage as far as liability coverage is concerned. But many areas will hold you responsible for the cost of fuel spillage and debris removal if you’re to cause an accident. Only a good boat insurance policy will include fuel spillage and debris removal as part of their liability coverage.
8.Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage and medical payments coverage.
While these are both primary coverages on an auto insurance policy, a lousy boat insurance policy will not offer either of these coverages. Medical payments coverage will cover injuries for you and your passengers in a boating accident regardless of who was at fault. Uninsured motorist coverage will kick in if another boater causes an accident with you and they don’t have liability boat coverage like they should be carrying.
9. Pay attention to your mileage limits.
A good boat insurance policy is usually pretty lenient regarding how far you can take your boat and still be covered. However, there are some bad boat insurance policies out there that have unreasonable mileage restrictions. So make sure you review that on your boat insurance policy, and that you’re covered as far as you want to take your boat.
10. Roadside assistance coverage.
Boats break down more often than automobiles do. Thus it’s a really good idea to carry roadside assistance coverage for your boat. Look closely at what is covered and look at the cost of coverage. More often than not, it is very well worth it to have roadside assistance coverage.
Bonus Tip: Safety course discount.
I usually do not recommend taking a safety course for the sole reason of getting a discount on insurance because the cost of the course is usually higher than the amount of money you will save. But in Virginia, boaters are required by law to take a safety course. So therefore you might as well take advantage of it if your boat insurance company offers such a discount.
This is not an all-inclusive list. But it will give you a good idea of knowing what to look for and what to avoid regarding a boat insurance policy… If you find that your boat insurance policy isn’t all that good as you thought it was, it may be time to shop around for other boat insurance. Chances are that you can get much better coverage for the same, or about the same price.
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Dan Lyles is an Independent Insurance Agent serving Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia..