Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Do I need a separate insurance policy for my boat?

Is my boat covered under my homeowners policy or do I need a separate policy?
Most homeowners policies provide liability insurance for smaller motorboats with outboard motors of 25
horsepower or less, and for sailboats less than 26 feet long. Typically, there is $1,500 coverage for damage to the
boat for specified perils. However, theft and windstorm are limited and sinking is not covered at all.

What type of policy is best?
Boat owners are well served by a policy specifically designed to insure watercraft, offering all-risk coverage for
the boat’s full value. A boat owners policy provides the necessary liability, hull and motor coverage. The policies
follow the format of personal auto policies; however, they vary from company to company much more than auto
policies do because they are written on nonstandardized policies.

What should I look for when I select a policy or check my existing coverage?
• Limits of navigation, or where the boat can go and still be protected by the insurance policy;
• provisions for insuring sails, spars and other property on the boat;
• permissive users of the boat;
• exclusions for how the boat is used (e.g., commercial, parasailing, racing, etc.);
• all-risk versus named perils; and
• be certain the personal umbrella policy will include an underlying boat policy.

Do you have any other advice?

Consult our agency to determine what type of insurance best meets your needs. Read and make sure you
understand your policy. Periodically review your coverage with us and be sure that your craft is registered
properly. In addition, be certain to follow all laws of boat navigation, including laws regarding drinking and
boating, which are available from the U.S. Coast Guard and your local law enforcement agencies.

Is it illegal to drink alcohol while boating?
It is against federal law for a recreational boat operator to have a blood alcohol content higher than .08
and for other vessel operators to have a BAC of more than .04 percent. State laws apply for boaters in
waters within state geographical boundaries.

What is the law in New York state?
New York state law prohibits the operation of a boat on state waters while one is impaired by drugs or
alcohol or is intoxicated with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more. Violators charged with boating while
intoxicated face up to a $1,000 fine; up to one year in jail; and loss of boat operating privileges for one year.

Is boating while intoxicated a widespread problem?
Federal Department of Transportation statistics show that nearly 700 boating fatalities occur in our nation
each year. Alcohol is reported officially as a factor in 21 percent of those deaths, although experts suspect the
number is much higher.

Got more questions that we didn't answer? Call the Insurance Geeks at 888-565-2212.
We're here to answer all of your insurance questions...we speak insurance, so you don't have to.
Or email us at

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