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Boat or Marine Insurance

You finally saved up enough to buy the boat you’ve been eyeing for years, and can’t wait to take her out for the first time. Or maybe you own a cargo ship that transports goods regularly. In either case, the last thing you want is for something to happen to your boat, passengers, or property. For this reason, many boaters purchase boat or marine insurance to help cover the costs of such unfortunate events. The article below discusses different types of boat insurance, what’s covered, and important things to consider when selecting insurance.

What Is Boat or Marine Insurance?

Boat and marine insurance are similar, but marine insurance deals with commercial vessels while regular boat insurance is for recreational boaters. Boat insurance helps you cover your losses if there’s an accident and property is damaged or people are injured, depending on the type of policy you buy. While your homeowner’s insurance policy might cover a small boat under certain circumstances, other types of boats require actual boat insurance in order to be covered. Like other kinds of insurance, you have options regarding the amounts of your deductible and the liability limits.

What Does Boat Insurance Cover?

Boat insurance is similar to both home and automobile insurance. You have options regarding how much coverage you buy, but some of the most common types of coverage include the following:

  • Liability Insurance: Like homeowner’s insurance, boat insurance can cover your liability when someone is injured while on your boat (like a slip and fall).
  • Bodily Injury: This covers injuries you cause to others while using your boat (including medical bills and legal expenses).
  • Property Damage: This covers damage you cause to someone else’s property, such as a boat or dock.
  • Collision Damage: This is similar to property damage, but covers the repair or replacement of your own boat if it gets damaged.
  • Comprehensive: This covers your boat if it’s vandalized, stolen, or damaged in some way other than in a collision.
  • Personal Property: You can add on coverage for personal property on board, like fishing gear.
  • Uninsured Boater: Like uninsured motorist coverage, this covers damages and injuries caused by uninsured or underinsured boaters.
  • Towing and Assistance: Also known as “roadside assistance,” this covers you if you need assistance with your boat, or a tow back to the docks.

Limits of a Boat Insurance Policy

It’s also important to note a few things that typically aren’t covered by boat insurance. For example, your boat insurance won’t cover damage that occurs while towing your boat to and from the water. This is usually covered by your car insurance, subject to that policy’s limits.

Additionally, you can’t expect to be covered anywhere you choose to boat. Your policy should provide details regarding the geographical limits of your coverage, although it may be possible to buy coverage for a one-time trip outside of those areas. You should also check with your insurance agent to see whether or not your policy covers things like hurricanes and other storm damage.

Types of Boat Insurance Policies

Your boat insurance coverage will also depend on the type of policy you choose. Insurance companies offer different policies based on the type of vessel you’re insuring. For example, a yacht or sailboat is going to need a different level of coverage than a houseboat or a powerboat.

You can also select whether you want to insure your boat for its market value or an “agreed value.” An agreed value policy covers the boat based on the dollar amount you and your insurance agent agree to up front. Therefore, you’re covered even though the boat’s actual value decreases due to depreciation. Market value takes depreciation into account and covers the cost to replace the boat at its current market value.

Additionally, unlike many other types of insurance, some boat insurance policies give you the option to suspend or “lay-up” your insurance coverage for the periods of time you won’t be using your boat, like those cold winter months.

Obligations of the Insurance Company

The policy you sign serves as a contract between you and your insurance company. Therefore, you both have certain rights and responsibilities according to the terms of that contract. If you pay your premiums and abide by the other terms in the contract, the insurance company agrees to pay for losses covered by your policy.

Insurance companies also have to abide by state insurance laws and act in good faith. If your insurance company fails to pay a legitimate claim, refuses to defend you against someone else’s claim, or is otherwise acting unfairly, you may be able to file a bad faith lawsuit against them, or appeal to your state’s insurance commissioner.

Get Help Navigating Your Boat Insurance Issues

While spending the day out on the water can be the perfect way to relax and enjoy the great outdoors, there’s also plenty that can go wrong – from hidden sand bars to reckless boaters. If you’re having difficulty proving your claim, dealing with an insurance company who’s not living up to their obligations, or having other boat insurance issues, contact a local insurance attorney who has experience dealing with these types of concerns.

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