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Coverage for Boats

Learn more about boat insurance policies, available coverages, and how you can best protect yourself and your investment.

Boat Insurance

What is Boat Insurance?

Boat Insurance policies are designed to cover smaller vessels - usually 26 ft. or less - and may include speed boats, recreational fishing boats, and classic or antique boats.

Most standard boat insurance policies include coverage for physical damage, liability, medical payments, personal property, and towing and assistance. Extended coverages such as pollution, wreck removal, and uninsured boaters are usually available to add on for an additional premium. More on these additional coverages can be found here.

What Factors Influence Your Policy?

Insurance providers take a number of factors into consideration when determining whether or not to offer a policy. In doing so, they evaluate the risks associated with a vessel and the conditions that would be attached to a policy, if issued.

Factors an insurer may consider when making a decision include: Age of Vessel; Type of Vessel; Length; Value; Speed/Power; Condition; Location of Use; Home Port; and Ownership. Premiums can be reduced through several methods, such as decreasing policy limits or enrolling in a boater's safety course.

Loss Settlement

Boat insurance policies are most commonly issued on an Agreed Value basis, meaning the value of the insured vessel is determined between yourself and your insurer when the policy is drafted. Total losses are usually settled in-full up to this Agreed Value, while partial losses are typically settled on an Actual Cash Value (ACV) basis. Actual Cash Value may be calculated by subtracting the cost of depreciation from the original replacement cost of the vessel, and usually includes a deductible.

Physical Damage

Coverage for Physical Damage is designed to protect insureds from the financial impact of a direct loss to their vessel.

"Physical Damage" in a boat insurance policy pertains to damages caused by direct causes of loss, which may include collision, sinking or capsizing, weather, theft, vandalism, or piracy. While coverage varies by insurer, most policies will cover physical damage to the vessel's hull, motors, anchors, and any onboard safety equipment, such as flotation devices or fire extinguishers.


This coverage is only intended to indemnify - or compensate - the policyholder for damages sustained to their own vessel. Coverage for physical damage to the property of others is included in the Liability section of a boat insurance policy.


Liability Coverage is designed to compensate third-parties for any losses or injuries they may have sustained in an accident where an insured was at fault.

Liability coverage is not intended to compensate an insured for their own losses or injuries. Instead, it's provided to offset the costs of any property damage or bodily injuries sustained by a third party that the insured may be found liable for. Paying for the medical expenses or property damage of a third party out-of-pocket could have a devastating financial impact on an individual without Liability coverage, which is why carrying adequate insurance is absolutely essential for boaters.

Medical Payments

Coverage for Medical Payments is designed to pay for the costs of first aid, ambulance, hospital bills, or other costs that may be incurred as a result on an injury onboard a vessel.

Medical Payments coverage applies regardless of whether an insured is legally liable for the injuries sustained and does not require legal action to be taken against the insured. Contingent upon the terms of your insurer, coverage may provided on a "per person" basis or on a "per accident" basis.

Personal Property

Boat insurance policies often include standard coverage for personal property onboard an insured vessel.

"Personal property" in the context of a boat insurance policy may include (but is not limited to) clothing, personal effects, or any fishing, navigational, or safety equipment used to operate the vessel. Depending upon the terms of your insurer, this coverage may be applied to personal property that is onboard, being loaded onto or off of, or within a defined distance of an insured vessel.

Towing & Assistance

Coverage for Towing & Assistance is designed to reimburse an insured for the costs they may incur by receiving emergency assistance.

Examples of emergency assistance services that are eligible for this coverage may include (but are not limited to): Towing a vessel to a repair facility; Delivery of fuel, oil, or parts; or At-sea labor. This coverage is only intended for situations where an insured and/or their vessel are not in immediate danger.

Boat owners can alternatively obtain Towing & Assistance coverage by subscribing to an on-water assistance organization such as SeaTow or TowBoatU.S. Additional information on these organizations may be found here.

Additional Coverage Options

Additional coverages are typically offered as add-ons to a boat insurance policy in exchange for an additional premium.

Most insurers provide boat owners an opportunity to personalize their coverage by adding on extended coverages when their policy is drafted. Some additional coverages that may be found useful include:

Increased Navigational Limits: Extends the geographical area under which a policy's coverage applies.

Uninsured/Underinsured Boaters: Provides coverage for insureds who are involved in an accident with an at-fault third party who either does not carry adequate insurance or cannot be identified.

Pollution: Provides coverage for the costs of clean-up or containment in situations where an insured is held liable.

More on these additional coverage options can be found here.


While exclusions vary from insurer to insurer, some common exclusions include:

  • Wear and tear, gradual deterioration, or weathering;

  • Damages or losses due to negligence or misconduct of the insured;

  • Damages or losses caused by insects, animals, or mold;

  • Damages or losses caused by marine life;

  • Faulty, defective, or improperly maintained machinery or parts;

  • Equipment or accessories not installed by the manufacturer during the original sale;

  • Improper storage or transportation;

  • Damages or losses caused by an uninsured operator;

  • Damages or losses that occur outside the policy's navigational limits;

  • Damages or losses that result out of a special event or competition.

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