Boat Insurance: Boat Owner Basics

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When first looking to purchase boat insurance most people don’t know where to begin. For example most people don’t realize that a standard policy may not necessarily give them the coverage they think it would. Here are a few basic insurance tips when it comes to purchasing boat insurance.

Standard Marine Coverage

Each individual boat will require a different amount of insurance. The amount of insurance you purchase should be based on the purchase price of the boat or its surveyed value. Once a value is determined, you then choose your deductible. Often the deductible can vary from 1% to 5% of the boats value, but can also be set to a specific dollar amount. Often a standard policy will offer liability coverage that provides protection if you are responsible for causing bodily injury or property damage.

Optional Coverage / Endorsements

Optional coverage is often referred to as an endorsement. The Endorsement includes this that you have an option to cover such as: trailers, tenders, rods & reels, & electronics. Make sure to talk to your insurance agent/broker about your policies navigation area and lay-up period. A lay-up period is a discount on a the insurance cost for the amount of time the boat is not in use. 


All insurance policies include exclusions. Exclusions usually refer to naturally-occurring wear and tear on the boat, wear caused naturally, or even hull blisters. You may be able to purchase additional coverage, which will limit your exclusions.

Marine Surveys

Most of the time new boats don’t need a survey if there were build by a well known boat manufacturer. However, if your boat is more than 10 years old or was homemade, you may be required to obtain a survey. A boat survey could be required up to every 3 years. A professional boat survey should be conducted by an accredited SAMS or NAMS surveyor. We would also suggest obtaining a survey on every used boat before purchasing it. Having a survey conducted before purchase may help you avoid any insureability headaches down the road. Finally, a surveyor should alert you to any problems before the purchase so that you don’t buy a boat that’s not seaworthy.

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