fbpx

7 Best Boat Insurance Companies of 2021


Boat insurance helps cover repairs due to accidents, theft, fire, storms and other perils. It also offers liability protection in the event your watercraft injures someone or damages someone else’s property.

Even if you don’t use your boat regularly, insurance can provide peace of mind in case of unexpected events. To help you find the policy that best fits your lifestyle, check out Money’s guide to the best boat insurance companies for 2021.

Our Top Picks for Boat Insurance

Progressive – Best for Policy Discounts
BoatUs – Best for Membership Benefits
Foremost – Best insurance packages
Chubb – Best for Yachts
State Farm – Best for Covering Boat Rentals
Markel Insurance – Best Insurance for Businesses
National Boat Owners Association – Best Insurance Agency

Best Boat Insurance Reviews

Pros

Wreckage removal and fuel spill cleanup included
Accident forgiveness and disappearing deductibles

Cons

Coverage limitations for expensive watercraft, and for big boats in hurricane-prone states

Not every insurer includes in its standard coverage the removal of your boat if it is wrecked and damage from fuel spills. Progressive is among those that do, but there are limitations. Wreckage removal is covered only when it is deemed to be legally necessary, and fuel spills only to the limits of your liability coverage.

Progressive boat insurance policies include accident forgiveness which keeps rates from increasing if your claims are for $500 or less. Boaters who’ve been Progressive customers for at least four years and remained accident-free for three are exempt from rate increase for any boat accident, regardless of the claim amount.

For an additional cost, you may include a “disappearing deductibles” policy that deducts 25% from your deductible amount for every claim-free period on your boat policy — until it reaches zero.

But Progressive has more limitations than some insurers on the vessels they will insure, and where they will do so. Personal watercraft (such as jet skis) worth more than $27,000 are not covered. In hurricane-prone states, insurance is not available for boats over 35 feet in length or that are worth more than $175,000.

Insurance companies generally offer policy discounts if you’re insuring multiple boats, have taken safety courses or combine your boat insurance policy with homeowners or auto insurance. Progressive, on the other hand, offers those and more, for a total of more than 10 discount options which might help you lower your boat insurance cost.

You can get discounts for being the original owner of the boat, a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCG), United States Power Squadron (USPS) or United Services Automobile Association (USAA), not having any watercraft or motor vehicle violations or accidents on your record for the last three years, making payments on time and more.

Like other insurers, Progressive offers a wide array of optional coverages. These include those for total-loss replacement, which provides full reimbursement without depreciation;
on-water towing; and full replacement cost and repairs to the lower unit of an outboard motor — even if it’s caused by wear and tear.

Additional coverage options:

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

Progressive policy discounts:

Multi-policy
Responsible driver
Original owner
Transfer from another company
Association member
Multi-boat
Advanced quote
Pay in full
Prompt payment
Safety course
Small accident forgiveness
Large accident forgiveness
Disappearing deductibles

Pros

Free boater safety and education programs to earn discounts

Extra-cost towing and emergency assistance plans available
Geico auto insurance policyholders may get a discount

Option to extend your coverage to Alaska, Bahamas, Mexico and the Caribbean

Cons

Not all policy options available in every state or vessel type
Does not offer replacement-cost insurance
BoatUS membership required to sign up for unlimited towing benefits

BoatUS is one of the largest membership-based organizations for recreational boat owners. While a membership isn’t required to get a BoatUS insurance quote, buying one entitles you to benefits much like those offered by AAA or other auto clubs for your car. These include BoatUS safety courses (free to all, regardless of whether they have BoatUS insurance), the completion of which can earn you discounts on your boat insurance.

The company is owned by Geico and offers agreed value, actual cash value and liability coverage policies for most types of boats — though not replacement cost coverage, which many insurers offer.

The Membership program offers discounts on charter cruises, towing, fuel, boat supplies and fishing stores, watercraft storage, repairs and other services. There is also towing assistance, which varies by the membership level you choose.

The four membership plans vary in price between $25 and $179 per year. Each plan includes 24/7 towing assistance, jump-starts, fuel delivery and soft grounding. As you move up a price tier, the plans may cover up to 100% of emergency tows and provide a reimbursement of up to $3,000 for tows not provided by the BoatUS towing network.

Also, do note that since BoatUS is a subsidiary of Geico, they offer the same policy. In fact, the Geico boat insurance quote process redirects you to the BoatUS website.

Not every insurer allows you to buy extra-cost coverage for countries other than the U.S. from them or facilitate buying it from their partners. BoatUS allows you to extend your coverage to Alaska, Bahamas, Mexico and the Caribbean — all of which are rarely or ever included in standard boat insurance.

Additional coverage options:

Dock contract liability
Fishing guide
Ice and freezing
Lifetime repair guarantee
Lower deductible for dinghies
Lower deductible for electronic issues
Mechanical breakdown
Personal effects coverage
Medical payments
Unlimited towing
Trailer coverage with roadside assistance

BoatUS policy discounts:

Safety courses
Multi-policy

Pros

Eight packages by boat type

Multiple discounts, such as those for boaters 55 years or older

Bahamas and Mexico navigation included with Elite package

Specialized insurance options for USAA members

Cons

May not cover boats over 50 feet in length or $500,000 in value
Some coverage options only available with the Elite package

Insurance companies usually offer a base policy that boaters can customize by adding optional riders or by choosing policies tailored to boat type. Foremost offers an unusually high number — eight — of such packages, tailored to boat type, age or coverage level. These can simplify the selection of the policy features you need.

Foremost also offers three main packages: the Saver, Plus and Elite. The Saver is an inexpensive insurance option that provides actual cash value settlements which take depreciation into account.

Upgrading to the Plus allows you to add total loss replacement settlement, which pays to repair your boat to the condition and with the same materials as before an accident, rather than only to a depreciated amount.

The Elite is the most comprehensive choice, adding pollution (spill) liability, navigation across the Bahamas and Mexico, towing services and more.

There are also packages for pontoon boats, boats that are more than 25 years old, speedboats that reach speeds of 77 mph or greater and personal watercraft such as jet skis.

Every plan can be customized with extra coverage options for medical payments, personal property, the boat’s transport trailer and more.

Additional coverage options:

Personal Liability
Uninsured Watercraft
Medical Payments
Towing and Roadside Assistance
Trailer coverage
Personal property
Trip interruption

Foremost insurance discounts:

Lay-up
Policy paid in full
Boat features protective devices (fire extinguishers, monitoring systems, etc.)
Safety course
Multi-unit
Multi-policy
Loss free renewal
Prior insurance
55 years or older
Affinity and alliance

Pros

Covers an unusually wide variety of watercrafts, including yachts, kayaks and canoes

Optional coverage for rented boats

Lay-up discount available if you don’t use the boat year-round

Cons

No actual cash value coverage available

Like many other insurers, State Farm boat insurance pays for damages your boat causes to others’ property, such as to another boat or to a dock, and injuries to others during accidents. But State Farm also offers an optional add-on liability protection for rented boats, a rarer feature of boat policies.

State Farm provides liability protection when you rent a boat during a vacation or while yours is being repaired — in fact, they may also reimburse part of your rental costs if you rent a boat while yours is in the shop. And if you rent your boat to someone, State Farm may also help pay for damages to your boat caused by the person who rented it.

Additional coverage options:

Fishing tournament fee reimbursement in the event you can’t participate due to boat damage or loss
Incidental commercial fishing coverage
Uninsured/underinsured watercraft coverage

State Farm insurance discounts:

Taking safety course
Lay-up discount if you don’t use the boat year-round
Boating in fresh water instead of salt water

Pros

Covers especially large and/or expensive yachts

Complimentary background screenings, travel briefings, and discounted rates on security services
Consultations on local laws and customs

No deductions for depreciation on most partial loss claims

Cons

No information on website about policy discounts

Insurance companies typically cover boats up to 50 feet in length and up to $500,000. Chubb, on the other hand, has two insurance plans tailored for pleasure yachts that are between 36 and 70 feet in length and valued at up to $3 million. Coverage is also available for captained vessels of 70 feet or longer and valued at $3 million and up.

The two yacht insurance policies include standard coverage options such as agreed value coverage, emergency towing and assistance and liability protection. However, Chubb’s policies go further to cover costs incurred to haul or dock the vessel due to an incoming storm, coverage for the marina where the yacht is stored, liability protection for the boat’s crew and more. They may also pay up to $25,000 to cover the cost of fines and penalties as a result of marine environmental damage and more.

Yacht owners may also benefit from a lack of deductions for depreciation on most repairs, and coverage of up to $10,000 to charter a boat if your own vessel can’t be repaired within 72 hours. There is similar coverage for renting a watercraft in the event your own is unavailable.

Additional coverage options:

Pet injury coverage
Replacement-cost coverage for dinghy and tender
Optional higher limits for emergency towing and assistance
Marine Environmental Damage coverage
Temporary Substitute Watercraft coverage
Optional higher limits for trailer coverage

Pros

Insurance coverage for watercraft used for commercial purposes

Covers liability for damage to the vessel’s storage facilities

Diminishing deductible program

Cons

Few physical branches nationwide

Where most boat insurance companies cover boats and watercraft used recreationally. Markel offers insurance policy that covers for business purposes, including commercial fishing, boating classes, renting and chartering.Its marine insurance policy also covers liability for any damage the vessel causes to the rental facility where it is stored.

Markel covers several types of boats, whether it be a yacht chartered for sightseeing or a boat you own and operate for marina cleanups. Several insurance options are available such as coverage for damaged equipment and liability coverage for property damages, bodily injury, pollution (including fuel spills) and the crew.

Markel also offers policies for boats meant for personal use, with rates as low as $100 per year.

The company is also among a few boat insurers that reduce your deductible for each year you don’t collect on a claim. The deductible drops by 25% each year. After four years of being claim-free, it’ll reach zero.

Additional coverage options:

Business interruption
Boat towing
Boat lifts
Fishing equipment
Tournament fee reimbursement
Premises liability
Slip and mooring liability
Emergency expense reimbursement

Markel insurance discounts:

Diesel engine
Primary operator age 40 and over
Insuring more than one boat
Boating experience of five years or more

Pros

Pairs you up with the best providers for your needs

No membership needed, but members get benefits such as emergency towing and discounts at marine retailers

Provides financing to buy new or used vessels

Cons

Must go through quote process to get more information on coverage options

If you’re unsure as to the boat insurer that’s best for you, you may want to go for a boat insurance agency. The National Boat Owners Association (NBOA) connects you with insurers for all types of boats including speed boats, sailboats, fishing boats, catamarans, and yachts, as well as watercraft such as jet skis.

The insurance companies NBOA works with offer a wide range of coverage options such as liability protection with limits from $100,000 to over $1,000,000, towing services and personal property reimbursement. Some insurers also offer total loss replacement coverage which replaces your boat with a new one of the same make and model, or similar, in the event of a total loss.

A membership isn’t necessary to get insurance but does get you benefits including emergency dispatch services, towing coverage, marine financing, industry discounts and more. NBOA offers two membership plans, costing $35 or $75 per year.

Other companies we considered

Allstate Insurance

Pros

Offers premiums as low as $25 per month
Discount if you own a home, even if it’s not insured under Allstate homeowners insurance

Cons

High ratio of complaints filed with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)

Nationwide Insurance

Pros

Insurance packages ideal for fishing trips

Pollution liability coverage and wreckage removal are included
Roadside assistance included if you insure your boat trailer with Nationwide

Cons

Limited coverage add-ons available

Scored below average on several J.D. Power customer satisfaction study

United Services Automobile Association (USAA)

Pros

Members get a 5% discount on coverage for most watercraft valued under $150,000

Discount for being claim-free

Insures most types of boats

Cons

USAA boat insurance only available to military families.

American Family Insurance

Pros

Coverage for a wide range of vessels, including property liability and physical damage coverage for kayaks, canoes, dinghies, row boats, stand up paddle boards and more

Additional policies for personal watercraft, houseboats, sailboats, bass and fishing boats, yachts and speed and power boats

Multi-policy discount

Cons

Policies available only in 19 states

United States Power Squadrons (USPS)

Pros

Membership includes discounts on BoatUS insurance policies

USPS safety course graduates get a one-year complimentary membership with BoatUS

Cons

Insurance program only available to members

Membership entails an additional cost

Boat Insurance Guide

Boat insurance works similarly to car insurance by providing financial protection against damages to your vessel and others, as well as paying medical expenses to you or your passengers and covering other liability claims.

However, unlike with cars, most states don’t require that boats be insured — although some marinas might ask for insurance to rent a dock. Lenders might also demand it to finance a vessel.

Even if these requirements don’t apply to you, insuring your boat might be a good idea — especially considering boating accidents increased around 26% from 2019 to 2020.

What boat insurance covers

Policies vary between insurers but coverage typically includes:

Property damage coverage: also known as physical damage coverage, it insures against damages or loss of your vessel caused by collisions with other boats or objects (such as a dock or buoy), theft, sinking, fire, storms and other risks. The property covered may include the hull, motor, fittings, furnishings and other equipment.
Liability coverage: helps pay legal expenses and settlements if you’re found at fault for someone’s injuries during a crash, for example. It also covers damages to others’ property, such as a boat or dock you collide with.

Optional boat insurance coverage

Boat insurance companies may offer extra coverage options for:

Medical payments for injuries to you or passengers
Roadside assistance if the vehicle used to tow your boat breaks down
Wreckage removal in the event your boat sinks
Watersport injuries or damages from tubing wake surfing, or other similar activities
Fuel spill cleanups for accidents or a leaking gas tank
Personal property such as fishing equipment, scuba gear, clothing, smartphones and more
Uninsured/Underinsured boater damages your boat
On-water towing if your boat leaves you stranded
Mechanical breakdowns
Ice and freezing damage
Hurricane haul-out in case you have to move the boat to safety due to a storm
Extending your navigation to Alaska, Bahamas, Mexico and the Caribbean

Types of boats covered

The types of watercraft covered vary across insurance companies but may include:

Bass/fishing boats
Pontoon boats
Sailboats
Cruisers
Dinghies
Bowriders
Power/speed boats
Jet boats
Yachts
Personal watercraft (PWC) such as jet-skis

Some insurers may also cover non-motorized watercraft such as kayaks, canoes or stand-up paddle boards.

Agreed value vs. actual cash value policies

Companies offer one of two types of reimbursement: agreed value and actual cash value. The type of policy you opt for will determine your premium as well as the coverage limits.

Agreed value coverage
This pays the amount you and the insurer agree on when the policy is purchased. It doesn’t take into account the value of your boat at the time a claim is submitted. It provides the most protection since it pays to replace or repair your watercraft without deductions for depreciation.

Actual cash value coverage
This option takes into account the market value, age and condition of the watercraft at the time of the accident. The insurer pays for repair or replacement costs after accounting for depreciation. Actual cash value policies have cheaper premiums but provide less coverage in the event of total loss.

Some companies also offer replacement cost coverage. This type of coverage reimburses the full amount needed to repair your boat after an accident. In the event of total loss, the insurer pays to replace your watercraft with the same or a similar model.

Is my watercraft covered by my homeowners or umbrella insurance?

Homeowners insurance may cover your boat — as long as the watercraft meets the insurer’s size and speed restrictions.

Most policies cover small boats under 26 feet of length and with engines of 25 horsepower or less. However, note that coverage limits for physical damage are usually low — typically no more than $1,000 or $1,500 per item — so you may need to purchase an add-on “endorsement” to insure your watercraft to its full value. Also, coverage for medical payments, other personal property or liability may be excluded.

In other words, a homeowners policy may be enough for small, slow boats that are not used often. Serious boaters who are out on the water often or own a boat with a value that exceeds their homeowners policy limits should consider a comprehensive boat insurance policy.

Umbrella insurance may also cover your watercraft. However, the underlying policy covering your boat must first meet the liability requirements of your umbrella policy. For instance, an umbrella policy won’t cover legal fees and damages if it requires a minimum liability coverage of $500,000 and your boat or homeowners insurance caps at $300,000.

What boat insurance doesn’t cover

Unless it’s stated otherwise on your policy, most policies don’t cover:

Wear and tear
Deterioration
Marring
Denting
Damage from animals
Manufacturing defects
Corrosion
Mold
Servicing and maintenance
Renovations
Freezing

Other exclusions may include accidents that take place while boating outside your policy’s navigation limits or during a lay-up period.

How much does boat insurance cost?

Your premium will depend on factors such as:

Navigation area: boating inland (lakes or rivers), coastal regions or traveling to the Bahamas, Mexico and the Caribbean (sometimes also Alaska).
Boat type: the model, year, size and speed of your watercraft.
Your boating record: prior boating violations, accidents, claims or boating safety courses.

If insuring a used boat, underwriters might require a marine survey to determine your vessel’s overall value and condition. The surveyor inspects the boat for any underlying issues with its structure, machinery and onboard equipment.

Some insurers offer policies for as low as $25 per month or less but these usually only offer basic liability protection. These advertised prices go up as you add more coverage options to your plan.

How to save on boat insurance

An actual cash value coverage policy is the cheapest option, since your insurance company can factor in depreciation when paying for damages. Choosing a lower liability limit and a higher deductible can also lower your monthly premium. However, these options mean you could pay more out of pocket for damages, injuries or legal fees after an accident.

Insurers also have policy discounts that can help you save money on your premium. These commonly include:

Insuring more than one boat under the same policy
Bundling your boat, homeowners and car insurance policies
Paying your insurance in full
Taking safety courses
Having claim-free periods
Having no boating accidents on record
Owning a diesel-powered boat
Not using your boat during during certain months (lay-up)
Installing safety devices such as fire extinguishers or a fume detector

Common reasons for boat insurance claims to be denied

Boat insurance only covers events that are explicitly stated on the policy declaration. However, a claim might get denied even if your policy provides coverage for it. Here are some common reasons that may be the case:

You were operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Not providing proper maintenance to your watercraft
Damages or injuries that exceed policy limits
Making mistakes in filing a claim
Failing to safeguard your boat before a storm
Using your boat for commercial purposes (this usually requires marine insurance tailored for businesses)

Best Boat Insurance FAQ

What is boat insurance?

Boat insurance can help cover the cost of repair and injuries to you and others due to a collision with a dock, buoy or other boat. Theft, vandalism, fire, storms and other unexpected events may also be covered.

How much is boat insurance?

You should expect to pay between $200 and $500 a year for boat insurance, as a rule. Insurers calculate your exact premium based on the type of boat you own, any past accidents, whether you’ve taken safety or other boating courses and whether you use your boat mainly inland or in coastal regions. Additional coverage options you choose, such as wreck removal, fuel-spill cleanup, will increase the cost of your premium.

What does boat insurance cover?

The type of events and damages your policy covers depends on the policy you choose but may include physical damage to the boat due to a collision, damage to personal property, bodily injury, towing, liability protection and more.

Do I need boat insurance?

Boat insurance isn’t required in most states — although exceptions include Arkansas, Utah and Hawaii. Even if coverage is not legally required in your state, marinas and ports usually ask for insurance if you wish to dock or moor your boat at their facilities. Additionally, lenders might require insurance if you lease or finance your boat.

How much boat insurance do I need?

The amount of insurance you need depends, of course, on the value of your craft. It also depends on where you dock, moor or store your boat. Some marinas require at least $300,000 in liability protection but it can be as much as $1,000,000.

How We Chose the Best Boat Insurance

Here’s what we looked for when choosing the best boat insurance companies:

Coverage options and discounts
We looked for companies that offered a comprehensive selection of insurance packages, coverage add-ons and policy discounts.

Customer satisfaction
As we researched companies, we focused on those that receive mostly positive feedback on online review sites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and customer satisfaction studies by J.D. Power.

Financial strength
We considered the financial strength of each company by looking up their rating from A.M. Best, a credit rating agency that focuses on assessing the creditworthiness of insurance companies. All our picks scored between A and A++.

Complaint index
We evaluated every insurer’s complaint trend report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Summary of Money’s Best Boat Insurance of 2021

Progressive – Best for Policy Discounts
BoatUS – Best for Membership Benefits
Foremost – Best Insurance Packages
State Farm – Best for Covering Boat Rentals
Chubb – Best for Yachts
Markel – Best Insurance for Businesses
National Boat Owners Association – Best Insurance Agency

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: