Boat Insurance: A Beginner’s Guide

A-boat-capsizing A boat capsizing in Sardinia. Photo credit: Matteo Miliddi.

Whether you have a yacht, a jet-ski or even just a canoe, you need peace of mind when venturing into the open seas. If you’re looking for a new boat insurance policy, or even just want to make sure your existing insurance policy is still right for you, this guide is designed to cover the key factors to consider, along with some handy hints and tips.

Choosing the right insurance provider is important, and Boat Trader partners with a range of trusted insurance brokers who can provide you with a free insurance quote to ensure that you have the right support waiting for you onshore.

Do I Need Boat Insurance?

While it’s not usually a legal requirement in most waters, boat insurance can make the difference between navigating a crisis calmly, and having to pay thousands and thousands of dollars if things go wrong. Firstly, you’ve made a huge investment in your vessel, and you will want to protect it. Secondly, boat insurance can protect against any third party liability for damage caused by you and your vessel. This is a particularly important protection – to the extent that some local authorities and marinas won’t let you moor there unless you have a bare minimum of third party liability insurance.

Ultimately, being out on the open waters should be a relaxing activity. Boat insurance will grant you the peace of mind of knowing that you’re protected, no matter what happens.

What Does Boat Insurance Typically Cover?

Boat insurance policies usually cover two main factors: physical damage and liability. In most (but not all) boat insurance policies, this includes:

  • Accidental damage
  • Loss or damage of personal belongings
  • Third party liability
  • Personal accidents

What Is Typically Excluded From Boat Insurance Policies?

It is very important that you carefully consider what is excluded from your insurance policy before agreeing to it. Significant factors which are often excluded are:

  • Wear and tear
  • Gradual deterioration
  • Faulty parts
  • Lack of maintenance

Insurance claims can also be rejected if you were situated a certain distance from shore during the incident, if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol while operating the vessel, and any claims for theft which took place when the vessel was unmoored or unattended.

What Factors Can Typically Increase The Price of Boat Insurance Policies?

Several factors can vary the price of boat insurance policies. The age, condition and value of your vessel is an obvious one. Where you live can also have a huge impact – for example, if you live in an area which is particularly prone to storms and hurricanes, you can (unfortunately!) expect to pay a premium on your boat insurance. How far you travel, and where you travel to, can also impact the price: obviously the wider the region covered, the more chance there is of things going wrong. And if you frequently travel to remote islands, for example, it will cost the insurance company much more to get a new mast shipped over, than it would if you were on a mainland. The type of water you sail in can also make a difference. If you only venture into freshwater, for example, you will pay less than someone who sails in saltwater – one of the most common claims is for corrosion damage caused by saltwater.

Historically, being a qualified skipper, helmsman, or Yacht Master, meant that you could expect to see the price of your policy drop. However, these days it is often a factor used to determine whether you will receive a quote or not. Making sure you’re careful with where you keep your boat, favoring safe locations like a well-protected marina berth can keep costs low.

What Other Factors Should I Consider?

Outside the key questions of ‘What is it?’, ‘What does it cover?’, and ‘How much?’. We have compiled a handy list of some specific considerations that you may want to ask your insurance provider, to ensure that you set off to sea with all bases covered.

  • Does your insurance provider require a survey report? If so, when should you provide this? Consider whether the insurance provider requires surveys at regular intervals, i.e. after every five years etc.
    Is your hull insurance tailored specifically for the way that you intend to use your vessel? For example, does your insurance provider take into account whether you’re going to be taking your boat on a breakneck race, versus a leisurely cruise?
  • If a part fails due to wear and tear, is any resulting damage caused covered by your insurance policy? Be aware that not all insurance policies include this.
  • What items are subject to a deductible? And if you’re not happy with it, can you buy yourself out of the deductible entirely?
  • What support will you receive? Is there round-the-clock care, or are the phone lines only open 9-5? Will you receive adequate international support for your needs? Are there any hidden costs associated with call-outs? Does the insurer have their own in-house claims team or do they subcontract a third party provider?

Whether you’re a bona-fide adventurer, or just taking a few turns around the local lake, it’s really important that you know your insurance policy is tailored precisely to your needs, and that you have a team that you can trust to rely on.

How Do I Obtain a Boat Insurance Quotation?

Many companies will be able to offer you a free automatic insurance quote online in just a few minutes – the National Boat Owners Association (NBOA) is a fantastic resource for this, but there are plenty of other companies who provide this service. It’s advisable to opt for a company that thoroughly understands boat insurance – it is an area that requires specialist knowledge, and working with experts will ensure that the process of both insuring your vessel and making a claim runs as smoothly as possible.

Lastly, always read your policy carefully. Not all insurance policies are the same. Do not assume that all of the ‘typical’ cover applies for all policies.

Sign into Boat Trader as a user to obtain for a free insurance quote within minutes. We are committed to delivering an unprecedented user experience to boat buyers and sellers. Boat Trader has been supporting seafarers and offering the boating industry solutions for buying, selling and insuring their vessels since 1996.

Written by: Emma Coady

Emma Coady is a freelance writer and marine journalist who creates content for many household names in the boating industry, including YachtWorld, Boat Trader and She also writes for several boat builders as well as charter and rental companies and regularly contributes to Greenline Hybrid yachts, TJB Super Yachts and Superyachts Monaco. Emma is the founder of Cloud Copy and enjoys traveling around Europe, spending as much of her spare time as possible in or on the water.