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If you’re a new boat owner, you’re in good company. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, demand for boats is booming. The COVID-19 pandemic propelled unprecedented demand, causing new-boat sales to reach a 12-year high in 2020.
The average retail price of a new aluminum boat package — including the trailer, engine and accessories — was $35,200 in 2021, but some boats can cost multiples of that figure. You need boat insurance to protect your investment and to ensure you have coverage if someone is injured on your boat.
To help you find the right policy, we researched leading insurers and identified the seven best boat insurance companies of 2022.
Our Top Picks for Boat Insurance
Why we chose it: Progressive is our choice as the best boat insurance company overall because of its standard comprehensive, collision and liability coverages, robust discounts and range of optional add-ons.
- Multiple discounts available
- Several optional riders available
- Coverage starts at just $100 per year
- Does not offer coverage for high-value yachts
- Restrictions on boat age and uses apply
- No commercial coverage
With Progressive’s standard boat insurance policies, you can get comprehensive and collision coverage, bodily injury and property liability insurance, fuel spill protection and even roadside assistance all on one policy. Progressive will even pay up to $1,000 for veterinary bills or death benefits if your pet is injured in a covered boating accident under the standard boat policy.
Progressive has a lengthy list of discounts that can make your premiums more affordable, including multi-policy, multi-boat and safety course completion discounts.
You can customize your policy with optional insurance riders to get additional protection. Optional coverages include protection for fishing equipment and carry-on items, mechanical breakdowns and total loss replacement.
Not everyone will be eligible for a policy from Progressive, though. To qualify, your boat must be under 50 feet in length and be valued under $500,000. In certain states that are prone to hurricanes, the restrictions are even tighter; in some places, the maximum length is 35 feet and the maximum value is $175,000.
Progressive’s policies are geared to boat owners who use their watercraft for personal use rather than to commercial operators. It also doesn’t offer protection or reimbursement for fishing tournament fees or cancellations.
Why we chose it: While most boat insurance companies have size and value restrictions on vessels, AIG doesn’t have those limits. It insures boats of all sizes, including million dollar super yachts over 600 feet – though you can get boat insurance from AIG only if you have a high net worth and insure other possessions through the company.
- Covers all boats, including super yachts
- Policies include coverage for crew
- Insures vessels to worldwide navigational limits
- Newly acquired vessels are automatically covered for up to 30 days
- Standalone coverage isn’t available
- Caters only to high net-worth individuals
With some insurers, the maximum size for a boat is as low as 35 feet, and the maximum value cannot exceed $175,000. But with AIG, you can get coverage for yachts of any size or value.
Yacht coverage is available through AIG’s Private Client Group. Its plans include property damage and loss coverage, collision damage protection, and personal liability for bodily injuries. Its yacht insurance also covers you against environmental fines that may occur after accidental fuel spills.
Many companies have cruising area limits, but AIG can insure your boat to worldwide navigational limits, based on your specific cruising plans. Since large yachts usually need full crews to function, AIG’s policies also provide coverage for your crew, including protection and indemnity insurance for crew claims.
AIG’s yacht insurance isn’t available as a standalone option; the only way to get coverage is if you qualify for AIG’s Private Client Group, a segment of its business focused on high net-worth individuals. Its clients include nearly 40% of Forbes 400 Richest Americans, and the average policyholder has 3.5 policies with AIG and pays $18,000 in annual premiums.
Why we chose it: Most boat insurance companies cover recreational vessels for personal use, and not commercial boats. But with Markel, you can get coverage even if you offer charters, act as a guide or take paying sport fishing customers.
- Coverage available for personal boats and commercial vessels
- Wide range of optional protections
- Writes policies for high-performance boats
- Must work with an agent to get a quote
- Limited agent availability
- Cannot be bundled with other insurance products
Markel offers insurance products for boats used for recreational use and commercial use. If you are a paid guide or offer charters, Markel’s policies can provide you with essential liability protection.
The company also offers insurance for high-performance boats and valuable yachts, and has optional protections like wreck removal, fishing equipment coverage, professional angler liability and tournament fee reimbursement coverage.
You must work with an agent to get a quote or detailed information about available policies, coverage limits and riders. However, agents aren’t available everywhere; you can work with an out-of-state agent to purchase coverage, but you won’t be able to meet with an agent in-person.
Why we chose it: Allstate offers extensive boat coverage, but it stands out from other companies because of the multiple discounts it offers. Taking advantage of those price breaks could allow you to get coverage for as little as $25 per month.
- Multiple discount programs
- Lengthy list of optional coverages
- Limited information about boat eligibility and restrictions
- Limited information about coverage limits and deductibles
- Higher number of complaints than is typical
Allstate boasts that its boat insurance policies start at $25 per month, yet it still offers multiple discounts, including:
- Boat education discount for taking an approved boater safety source
- Easy Pay Plan discount for enrolling in automatic payments
- FullPay discount for paying your entire premium upfront
- Homeownership discount for individuals that own their homes
- Multi-policy discounts for combining boat insurance with Allstate auto or property insurance
Allstate also has optional additional coverages so you can customize your boat insurance to meet your needs. Available riders include emergency services coverage, personal effects coverage and boat trailer coverage.
Keep in mind that Allstate received more complaints from customers than is typical for a company of its size. And it has limited information about its policies, coverage limits and exclusions online; you have to work with an agent to get details about available policies.
Why we chose it: If you’re a competitive fisherman who participates in tournaments, State Farm’s policies can ensure your competition plans don’t go awry. It has riders that allow you to rent a boat because your own is being repaired. It will even reimburse you for fishing tournament entry fees if you’re unable to participate due to a covered loss.
- Fishing tournament fee reimbursement
- Boat rental reimbursement and liability coverage available
- Emergency service and wreckage removal coverage is included
- Must contact an agent for a quote
- Limited information about policies online
- No information about discounts online
If you regularly compete in freshwater or saltwater fishing tournaments, you know how costly they can be. Fees can range from $25 for smaller competitions to thousands of dollars for well-known tournaments. If your boat is damaged ahead of a tournament, you could miss out — and lose the entry fee.
With State Farm, competitive fisherman can take advantage of boat rental reimbursement to rent a boat to use for the tournament when their vessel is out of service due to a covered loss. And, you can get rental liability coverage to protect you while you’re driving the rental boat. Or, if you can’t participate because your boat isn’t usable after a covered incident, you can use fishing tournament reimbursement to get reimbursed for non-refundable entry fees.
You cannot get a quote online; you must contact a State Farm agent. State Farm has limited information about its policies online, so you’ll have to work with an agent to find out about available coverage limits, deductibles and exclusions. State Farm also doesn’t have any information about discounts on its site, so you’ll have to talk to an agent to see if you’re eligible for multi-policy discounts or other discounts.
Why we chose it: Chubb’s Masterpiece Recreational Marine Insurance policies are designed for smaller vessels and personal watercraft like waverunners and Jet Skis. Its boat insurance coverage includes search and rescue protection, trailer coverage and temporary substitute watercraft insurance.
- Quick claim response times, according to Chubb
- Automatic new watercraft coverage
- Pet injury and emergency towing protection available
- Not for large vessels; watercraft and boats must be no more than 35 feet
- No online purchase; you must work with an agent for details and quotes
- Surveys required for boats over 27 feet and 25 years of age or older
While Chubb offers insurance options for yachts and superyachts, its policies for watercraft and smaller boats stand out for the robust level of protection they provide. Boats under 35 feet in length are eligible for the Masterpiece Recreational Marine Insurance policy with customizable options available.
Its benefits include automatic 30-day coverage for new watercraft, emergency towing and service protection, and the ability to choose between agreed value and actual cash value for total losses. And, it has precautionary measure protection, so you can get reimbursed for moving your boat out of the way of a storm or other disaster.
You can adjust your policy with additional coverage or riders, including pet injury and fishing equipment coverage.
According to the company, 98% of policyholders will receive a response within six hours of submitting a claim, which makes for a fast response time.
Boats over 27 feet in length and at least 25 years of age must have a survey performed before the policy can go into effect. And to get a quote or to find out information about available coverage in your area, you must contact an agent.
Why we chose it: BoatUS is a membership organization that provides its members with benefits like robust insurance policies, towing services, boat financing and storm tracking.
- Membership includes added benefits
- Multiple optional insurance riders available
- Multi-policy discounts apply
- Large and high-value boats are ineligible for coverage
- Mechanical breakdown coverage is available only for boats 10 or less years old
- Membership required, at extra annual cost
The Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS) was founded in 1966. As a membership organization, it offers products and services specifically designed for recreational boat owners.
While membership isn’t required to purchase boat insurance, it could be a worthwhile decision. Membership to BoatUS entitles you to extra benefits and savings, such as unlimited towing and boat financing options.
Its boat insurance policies can be based on agreed-upon-value or actual cash value, and BoatUs offers optional riders for electronics, mechanical breakdowns, trailer coverage and more.
The policies are underwritten by Geico, and you can qualify for discounts by bundling boat insurance with Geico homeowners or auto insurance policies.
Not all boats will qualify for coverage. Geico will not issue policies for boats over 70 feet in length, boats valued over $2.5 million, houseboats without motors, floating homes or watercraft previously deemed a constructive total loss.
If you want membership benefits — which include unlimited towing protection — you need to join BoatUS and become an unlimited or unlimited gold member. Membership fees range from $99 to $175 based on the level of membership you want.
Boat Insurance Guide
What boat insurance covers
A standard boat insurance policy normally covers the following:
- Damage to your boat from collisions, theft or storms
- Bodily injury to individuals other than you or your family
- Damage caused to someone else’s property
- Medical payments for an individual’s injuries
With boat insurance, insurers usually have a list of optional riders you can add to your policy to customize your coverage. Optional protection includes:
- Personal property/fishing equipment coverage for rods, reels and other items
- Boat equipment coverage for anchors, life jackets and navigation gear
- Boat trailer coverage
- Emergency services coverage for towing, mechanical labor at the site of the breakdown and fuel
- Fishing tournament cancellation coverage
Types of boats covered
Boat insurance policies cover all kinds of vessels, including:
- Pontoon boats
- Bass and fishing boats
- Watercraft, such as WaveRunners and Jet Skis
Some insurance companies have size and value restrictions.
Agreed value vs. actual cash value policies
Boat insurance is usually issued as an agreed value or actual cash value policy.
Agreed value policies are based on the valuation of the vessel that you and your insurer agreed on. If the boat is a total loss, you’ll be paid that specified value.
By contrast, actual cash value policies pay for the replacement cost minus depreciation at the time of loss.
What boat insurance doesn’t cover
In general, a standard policy doesn’t include protection for fishing equipment, emergency services or towing services. Your policy may exclude coverage for named storms without the purchase of an additional rider.
Common reasons for boat insurance claims to be denied
While boat insurance can provide essential protection, there is the potential of your claims being denied. The most common reasons for claim denials are:
- Damages were preventable: In your boat insurance policy, the insurer will outline the steps you are required to take to prevent damage or theft from occurring. If you skip those steps, your claims will be denied. For example, failing to winterize your engine properly or not removing your boat from the water ahead of a named storm will cause the insurance company to deny your claim.
- Lack of documentation: When it comes to filing a claim, good records are critical. Without evidence of the claimed damages or losses, the insurer will deny your claim. For example, keep an inventory of fishing equipment and accessories you store on your boat along with a file with receipts.
- Inadequate coverage: Many people don’t realize their policies don’t cover certain events. For example, your policy may not cover fuel spills or damages from a hurricane, leaving you to cover the entire cost yourself. Review your policy documents thoroughly to ensure you have the coverage you need.
- Going outside a cruising area: Most policies have cruising area restrictions. For example, your policy may have your navigation area listed and the insurance company can deny your claim since it’s outside of the coverage area.
- Policy lapses: If you pay your premiums late or fail to renew your policy, your coverage will lapse and you won’t have coverage for any damages or injuries that occur.
Best Boat Insurance FAQ
What is boat insurance?
Boat insurance is a specialized form of coverage designed for watercraft. While small canoes, sailboats or some powerboats may be covered against damage under your homeowners or renters insurance policy, larger vessels will need standalone coverage. And, coverage through a homeowners or renter’s insurance policy usually doesn’t include liability coverage.
Boat insurance typically covers physical damage to the boat resulting from collisions or theft. Most boat owners also elect to get liability coverage to protect against injuries or property damage that may occur during accidents.
How much is boat insurance?
Boat insurance rates can vary a great deal based on where you live and the type of boat you own. The general guideline is that you should expect to pay 1.5% to 2.0% of the boat’s value in annual premiums. For example, if your boat is valued at $35,000, you should expect to pay between $525 and $700 per year for boat insurance. Your actual boat insurance costs are dependent on several variables, including:
- Your location
- Type and size of boat
- Age of the vessel
- Current value of the boat
- Cruising area
- Intended use of the boat
- Coverage options and add-ons you select
How can I save money on boat insurance?
To save money on boat insurance, follow these tips:
- Take a safety course: Insurers often offer discounts if you take and successfully pass a boat safety course. And, completing the course will help you handle your boat safely, decreasing the risk of damage.
- Increase your deductible: Deductibles can range from $500 to thousands of dollars. The lower your deductible, the higher your premiums will be, so it can make sense to raise your deductible if you want a lower monthly premium.
- Ask about discounts: Many boat insurance companies offer significant discounts for bundling your policy with homeowners or auto insurance, signing up for automatic payments or having a claims-free record.
- Compare boat insurance quotes: Compare quotes from different insurance companies to make sure you’re getting the most competitive premium for the type of coverage you want.
Do I need boat insurance?
Although boat insurance isn’t required by law in most states — the exceptions are Arkansas and Utah — you most likely will need to purchase a policy if you own a boat.
Why is coverage essential? The U.S. Coast Guard reported over 5,000 boating accidents in 2020 that involved over 760 deaths, over 3,000 injuries and more than $62.5 million in property damage. That means the average property damage per accident was over $125,000. Without appropriate boat insurance, you could be on the hook for that expense yourself.
Boat insurance provides critical protection against damages and injuries.
How much boat insurance do I need?
The level of coverage you need in a boat insurance policy is dependent on the boat’s value and other factors. In general, experts recommend no less than $1 million in liability coverage. For most people, collision and comprehensive protection is based on the current value of your boat, and $10,000 is the minimum recommended amount for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Does boat insurance cover hurricanes?
If you live in an area that is prone to tropical storms or hurricanes, it’s important to do your homework before selecting a boat insurance policy. Some boat insurance policies exclude damage resulting from named storms, or there may be a separate hurricane deductible. If your policy excludes named storms, you may be able to get coverage by adding a hurricane rider to your policy.
With boat insurance, insurers may ask you to submit a hurricane plan that outlines the steps you will take to protect your boat and other property during a storm, such as taking the boat out of the water and putting it into storage.
For guidance on preparing for a hurricane and protecting your boat, the Florida Inland Navigation District developed a hurricane manual.
Is my watercraft covered by my homeowners or umbrella insurance?
If you have a homeowners or renters policy, you may have limited coverage for small boats. Coverage usually will pay for property damage for small boats with engines ranked at less than 25 horsepower. Your policy typically won’t include liability coverage.
More powerful boats, and personal watercraft like Jet Skis, aren’t covered under homeowners, renters or umbrella policies.
If you have a significant amount of assets at risk in cases of a lawsuit, an umbrella policy may be a helpful addition to provide additional liability coverage.
How We Chose the Best Boat Insurance
To choose the best boat insurance providers of 2022, we looked at policies from over 20 different leading insurers. We researched available policies, optional riders, coverage limits, exclusions, cruising areas, insurer financial stability ratings and customer service reviews.
Summary of the Best Boat Insurance
Whether you own a superyacht or a more modest bass boat, your vessel is a substantial investment. To protect your watercraft — and your peace of mind — boat insurance is essential. Coverages, exclusions and premiums vary by company, so it’s a good idea to request quotes from multiple boat insurance companies.
Here’s a recap of our picks for the best boat-insurance companies:
Kat Tretina is a personal finance writer and certified student loan counselor based in Orlando, Florida. She has written about debt repayment, investing, and insurance for The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Credit Karma, and more.