Did you know that boat insurance policies have been sold since the 17th century?
And did you know that although Washington State is home to many sailors, boaters and fishermen, insurance for boats is not required by law?
That means that none of the boats and watercraft out on Washington’s waters is required to have insurance – and indeed, only a small percentage of boat owners actually buy boat insurance.
Some boat owners may assume that their boat is covered under their homeowner’s insurance policy. But the fact is that there is, depending on the contract, only very limited coverage for a boat on a homeowner’s policy, and only a very limited number of boats would qualify for this coverage (boats no longer than 14 ft, with motors no stronger than 25 horsepower).
The insurance industry differentiates between 3 types of boats:
- Anything less than 16 feet long is usually called “personal watercraft” by insurers. This includes Jet Skis, Waverunners, Tigersharks, Wet Bikes and Sea Dog models, as well as Jazz and Rage “mini boats”
- "Boats” are 16 to 25 feet 11 inches.
- Anything at least 26 feet long is classified as a “yacht.” Considering that a boat is an expensive asset, that the boating industry is growing, and that a mandatory boat safety education only just started to come in effect in Washington State - buying insurance to protect your boat is not so far-fetched.
Overall, auto insurance and boat insurance are very similar. Like with your auto insurance, you want your boat insurance to protect you against:
- Damage to your boat and/or marine equipment
- Damage and pollution in case your boat sinks
- Damage and liability caused by your boat hitting another
- Medical expenses as a result of a boating accident
- Damage and injury done by a negligent uninsured boater
Auto and boat insurance are also very similar in terms of risk assessment: Age and type of the boat, driving record of the operators, the value of the boat and the location where the boat will be stored are all factors that determine the risk – and the cost of your policy.
There are ways to lower your boat insurance rates:
- Make a good choice on the type of boat that you are going to buy: Choosing safety over a sporty type will keep your rates lower.
- Also, the value of the boat will make a difference. The higher the boat’s value, the higher the premium.
- Many companies will offer a discount if you take and complete a boating safety course. This will help you make the right call in a critical situation.
- Also, touch base with the insurance company that handles your auto and home policies. Many insurers offer significant discounts if you have several policies through them.