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Do I NEED Boat or Jet Ski Insurance and Other FAQs

The weather’s finally heating up after a long and drawn-out winter – and most everybody is in the mood to celebrate that fact. If you have a boat, chances are that means you’re getting her out of storage and hitting the lake, the bay, or even the ocean. That makes this spring the perfect time to discuss boating, jet ski, and other watercraft insurance.

The most common question we hear from boaters is: “Do I need boat or jet ski insurance?” While you don’t legally need it, you DEFINITELY SHOULD have boat insurance. We’re not just saying that because Unruh Insurance is an insurance agency, but because Unruh Insurance is owned by two boaters, Kent and Curt Unruh, both of whom have comprehensive boat insurance.

Kent Unruh keeps his boat at Raystown Lake, while Curt Unruh prefers taking his boat out on the Indian River every spring and summer. This makes Unruh Insurance double-qualified to answer all of your boat insurance questions.

Find out why you need boat or jet ski insurance as well as get the answers to your boat insurance FAQs.

11 Boat and Watercraft Insurance FAQs

From one boater to another, these FAQs should answer most things you need to know to enjoy your boat all spring and summer long – without putting yourself in major financial jeopardy.

Do I need boat insurance?

Unlike car insurance, you aren’t legally required to have insurance for your boat, jet ski, or other watercraft insurance. However, it is an EXTREMELY good idea.

jet skis on water with watercraft insurance

Why is boating insurance recommended?

Boating insurance is recommended for two main reasons, both of which can save you thousands of dollars.

  1. If you don’t have liability coverage on your boat, you can be sued for damage to property or for any injury your boat causes. While property damage isn’t cheap, this is especially important when considering the possibility of injuring either a passenger or another boater. We’ve seen uninsured boaters be liable for literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
  2. Your boat is a HUGE investment. If your boat is ever damaged, you don’t want to eat that expense. Not only do you want to not suffer financially, but you’re going to want to buy a new boat!

Are there any legal requirements to operate a boat?

A lot of people don’t know this, but Pennsylvania requires persons born after 1982 to complete a brief boating safety course to be legal on the water. If you don’t complete the course, you can actually get fined.

Taking the course even if you aren’t legally required to can actually lower your boat insurance premiums.

What is the difference between comprehensive and limited (named-perils) boating insurance?

While both types of insurance provide the all-important liability coverage, comprehensive boating insurance provides protection against a far greater number of sources for damage. When you have named-perils coverage, you get a list of damage that’s covered. On the other hand, when you have comprehensive coverage, you get a small list of incidents that aren’t covered – while everything else is.

Since comprehensive insurance is only incrementally more expensive yet much more inclusive, it is the best choice for serious boaters.

family on yacht with comprehensive boating insurance coverage

What does named-perils coverage include?

Right from the policy, named-perils coverage includes protection from the following sources:

  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Cyclone, tornado, or windstorm
  • Theft
  • Vandalism & malicious mischief
  • Collision, while waterborne
  • Collision, overturn or derailment while being transported on land
  • Loss of entire motor overboard from any cause

What does comprehensive boating coverage exclude?

Again, directly from the policy, our comprehensive boating insurance covers most losses except:

  • Inherent vice or wear and tear (including marring, scratching, and denting)
  • Damage resulting from repair, service, or maintenance operations
  • Damage due to dishonesty of your employees
  • Loss due to mysterious disappearance
  • Loss caused intentionally
  • Damage caused in a pre-arranged race or speed test
  • Damage caused if the boat is not seaworthy
  • Damage due to nuclear reaction or radiation or radioactive contamination
  • Damage due to war
  • Damage to the electronic or computer systems on your boat

Basically, comprehensive coverage handles everything you can reasonably expect to encounter. For only a little extra money each month, it’s 100% worth it.

people with boating insurance operating their boat in the ocean

How do insurance companies determine boat insurance premiums?

In a lot of ways, the process is very similar to how car insurance rates are calculated. The value of the boat is taken into account and so is the type of coverage requested.

Interestingly, your driving record on land also factors into your premium as well. The insurance companies figure that if you’re a safe driver, you’ll be a safe boater, too.

What information do I need to provide when getting a boat insurance quote?

  • Hull number on boat
  • Serial number for boat trailer
  • Serial number for motor

Can I use my homeowners insurance for a boat?

A lot of boaters assume their watercrafts are covered by their homeowners insurance policy – in most cases, they’re wrong.

Boats with 75 horsepower or less are covered for liability, but anything more than that and you need standalone boating insurance.

If I’m towing my boat and it gets damaged, is that covered by auto insurance or boating insurance?

When towing your boat by car or truck, it is covered by your boat insurance policy in the event of damage, but the liability would be covered by your auto insurance.

a boat being towed out of water covered by boat insurance policy

Boat Insurance from a Knowledgeable Central PA Agency

At Unruh Insurance, we’re experts on all types of personal insurance – and boating, too. That makes us a fantastic resource when looking for boating insurance.

Contact us today to get your free boat insurance quote.

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