Do You Need to Have Boat Insurance?

You'll typically need boat insurance if you're financing the boat or use a dock at a marina. The only states that require boat insurance are Arkansas, Hawaii and Utah. But even if it's not required, it's still a good idea to get boat insurance to protect your expensive boat and cover accidents and injuries.

What's next

When do I need boat insurance?

If you have a boat loan

If you finance the purchase of a boat, your bank will require proof of insurance for the watercraft. Typically, the policy will need to cover the full value of the boat, and your bank may set minimum coverage requirements. In addition, you'll need to list the bank as a lienholder on the policy, making it a co-payee on any compensation from an insurance claim.

If you dock at a marina or port

Most ports and marinas will require you to carry boat insurance to use their facilities.

For example, if you want to moor your boat at Port of Bellingham in Washington, you must carry a policy with at least $300,000 in general, legal and pollution liability with a term of no less than one year. As another example, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation requires all vessels moored at its facilities to carry at least $500,000 in liability insurance.

Some marinas, such as the Hawaii Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation facilities, may even require the marina itself to be listed as an "additional insured" or "additional interest" on the policy. You'll normally need to provide proof of insurance before you can sign a contract for a slip or mooring.

Does home insurance cover my boat?

Boats can be covered under a homeowners policy, but there are often limitations on the size and value, typically no more than $1,000 or $2,000.

While this coverage is ideal for small, nonmotorized boats, such as canoes and kayaks, it's not enough for larger or motorized boats. And many homeowners policies will only cover the boat if it is physically damaged on your property; damage while in the water is not covered.

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Boat insurance requirements by state

Arkansas, Hawaii and Utah are the only states that require boat insurance for certain boats or harbors.

  • Arkansas: Liability coverage of at least $50,000 is required for all boats with engines rated 50+ horsepower.
  • Hawaii: Liability insurance of at least $500,000 is required only for boats parked in Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) facilities, including harbors and offshore moorings. The insurance policy must name the State of Hawaii, DOBOR, as the "additional insured" or "additional interest." The policy should cover salvage costs for grounded or sunken vessels, damage to docks, pollution containment and wreck removals.
  • Utah: Bodily injury, death and property damage insurance are required for all boats with 50+ horsepower engines. You must have coverage of at least $25,000 for bodily injury, $50,000 for death and $15,000 for property damage — or a $65,000 combined minimum per accident. Keep proof of insurance on the boat whenever it's in use.

Should you get boat insurance?

It's a good idea to get boat insurance even if it's not required.

Boat insurance is similar to auto and homeowners insurance. As with a homeowners policy, you can choose between the actual cash value or replacement cost in the event of a total loss. You'll also be covered if someone is injured on your boat.

Similar to an auto insurance policy, you can also purchase comprehensive and collision coverage (commonly called hull insurance), along with coverage for bodily injury and property damage. Additionally, many boat policies provide coverage for salvage costs, fuel-spill cleanup and damage from water sports.

Optional boat coverage

  • Roadside assistance and on-water towing
  • Fishing equipment or carry-on personal property
  • Mechanical breakdown
  • Ice and freezing damage
  • Hurricane haul-out
  • Trailer trip interruption

Boat insurance discounts

You can get discounts on your boat insurance premiums by signing up for multiple policies through a single insurance company, taking a boating safety course, receiving a boater education card or license, limiting your boating to a specific geographic area or having a good road driving record. Some companies even offer diminishing deductibles for each year that you do not file a claim.

Frequently asked questions

Is boat insurance a good idea?

Boat insurance is a great option to protect you and your watercraft. Like home insurance, you'll be covered if someone is injured on your boat. And similar to auto insurance, you can buy comprehensive and collision coverage for your watercraft.

What does boat insurance cover?

Boat insurance helps protect your passengers and your boat from certain risks, such as theft, collision or storm damage. It also covers your boat whether it's in the water or on land.

How much is boat insurance?

Boat insurance costs about $200–$500 per year, on average.

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