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Florida Boat Insurance—What Should You Expect to be Covered?

Nov 18, 2022

Congratulations, you own a boat! This is fantastic news! However, we do have one question to ask. Did you get it insured, or are you risking the lifetime of memories you will make to spare a few dollars? Just like a car, boat insurance is an essential component of safe and responsible ownership. In this article, we will discuss what boat insurance is if it is required by Florida law to have it, and why you should consider it for your new friend at sea. 

What is Boat Insurance?

Boat insurance is the insurance policy that covers and protects your boat from damage or liability expenses. Boat insurance applies to motorized watercraft, even if they are sitting on a trailer in a driveway. However, your boat may also be covered by a small amount of your homeowners insurance policy if it is on your property when the damages occur.

Much like car insurance, you can get coverage for your boat through a local insurance agency. Depending on the level of coverage you choose, any loss, damage, or theft that occurs to the boat may be covered by your policy. Boat insurance can also help cover expenses associated with damage sustained to another individual’s boat or property if your watercraft was at fault. 

What You Can Expect Boat Insurance to Cover

What is covered by your boat insurance policy is specific to your insurance agency and the coverage you choose. You can have your boat insured with a customized plan that fits your needs and budget. When determining the most appropriate coverage for your vessel, you need to consider its size, age, type, overall value, and where the boat will be used and stored. 

You can expect most insurance companies and boat policies to cover the following:

  • Bodily Injury: When harm is sustained to you or another individual, your insurance policy will pay for the medical expenses that come with treatment and recovery.
  • Property damage: Much like auto insurance, if an accident occurs and damages your boat or another individual’s boat, your insurance can help cover the repair expenses. 
  • Comprehensive coverage: This pertains to vandalism or even theft of your boat. However, under a boat insurance policy in Florida, any stolen or damaged personal items held on the boat may or may not be covered.

Additional Coverage Options

There are a variety of add-on coverages you can choose to protect your boat. These add-ons are recommended based on the specific concerns of the boat owner. Some examples of additional coverage options include:

  • Total-loss replacement
  • On-water towing
  • Fishing equipment
  • Personal effects
  • Mechanical breakdown
  • Medical payments
  • Trip interruption
  • Uninsured/underinsured boater

These are just a few common add-ons with which you can choose to protect your vessel. Speaking directly to an insurance agent can help narrow down your specific needs and help ensure you get all the coverage you need without overpaying. 

What Boat Insurance Does NOT Cover

It is equally important to understand that boat insurance does not cover all damage sustained to your vessel. Boat insurance is designed to cover accidents, vandalism, and theft, just as auto insurance is designed to protect these types of damages to land vehicles. 

You should NOT expect your insurance company to cover general wear and tear, corrosion, weathering, mechanical, electrical, or structural breakdowns, mold, mildew, or intentional damages caused to the boat. 

Other Restrictions Associated with Boat Insurance

When it comes to Florida boat insurance, it is essential to keep in mind that there are restrictions regarding where your boat is covered, the time of year it will be covered, and what parts of it are protected. Depending on a variety of factors, the following may or may not apply to your boat insurance policy:

  • In the state of Florida, your boat will not be covered during hurricane season. You MUST move your boat to a safe location during this time of year. 
  • Some agencies require you to be a minimum of 20 years old to receive boat insurance. 
  • Many insurance companies will only provide coverage in the Bahamas at an additional cost.
  • Faster boats, such as speedboats, will be more costly to insure than slower boats, such as sailboats.
  • You may be required to get a separate deductible for potential wind hazards if you want your boat to be protected again damage sustained from high winds.

Is Florida Boat Insurance Mandatory?

Many states treat boats the same as automobiles and mandate owners to get their vehicles insured. However, in the state of Florida, it is not required by the law that boat owners get coverage under boat insurance policies. 

Nevertheless, boat owners in Florida that opt out of boat insurance can still be liable for thousands of dollars if damages are sustained to another individual’s boat or property. Uninsured boaters may even be liable for the cost of an injured individual’s medical expenses if their vessel was at fault for the accident.

How Much Does Boat Insurance Cost?

As with ALL insurance policies, whether auto, homeowners, or boating insurance, specific factors play into the cost of your policy. With the help of an insurance agent, you can accurately create an estimate for the boat. A representative at an insurance agent will ask you a series of questions about your boat, allowing them to assess the amount of coverage needed and your boat’s level of risk. A few examples of these questions are the boat’s size, type, and age, as well as its storage location, navigational territory, overall value, and average usage.

The good news is that boat insurance is far more affordable than car insurance. This is due to the lower risk of accidents occurring. According to Progressive, the average cost of boating insurance in Florida is around $652 per year or $54.33 per month. 

How to Get Discounts on Boat Insurance

Although boat insurance is already made affordable to most boat owners, there are several ways you can reduce the cost even more and receive discounts on your policies. The first is taking a boating safety class. By completing a course on safely and responsibly owning and operating a boat, your insurance agency may deem you “lower risk.” 

Another way to lower your boat insurance cost is to conduct a marine survey. With the help of a professional, your boat can be evaluated, and the age, value, and coverage requirements can be determined. These inspections should be done within the first 30 days of owning the vessel and will help to diminish the need for unnecessary coverage costs. 

Lastly, you can receive lower premiums from your insurance company if you add safety features to your boat. For example, you can add fire extinguishers, life vests, highwater alarms, personal locator beacons, and visual and sound signaling devices. These materials will put your boat at a lower risk of damage, creating an overall lower annual insurance premium. 

Side Note: If you are trying to save money, do not choose the highest potential deductible offered by your agency. While this may lower your annual premium, it could be devastating in the future. The numbers between monthly payments and deductibles are not proportional. If an accident occurred and it came time to pay your deductible, odds are you will end up paying more than you would have if you opted for a lower deductible and higher premium. 

In the long run, it is always better to choose an affordable deductible rate in the case of a misfortunate event rather than saving a few dollars each month. 

Why YOU Should Consider Getting a Boat Insurance Policy

So, why should YOU consider getting a boat insurance policy in Florida? For starters, boats are expensive, and insurance is relatively affordable in comparison! If damages occur to your boat and you do not have insurance, you will have no other choice but to pay out of pocket for the repairs. On the other hand, if you are in a boating accident and do not have insurance, you will still be liable for the damages sustained to the other boaters’ vessel. This can run your thousands of dollars!

Boat insurance protects your sea friend from more than just damage that occurs to the vessel during collisions. You will also be protected against vandalism, theft, and medical expenses. The overall cost of boating insurance is FAR lower than the cost you will pay for repairments, replacements, and hospital expenses! In other words, go out and get yourself some boat insurance today!

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