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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Boats and Watercraft?

If you own a boat or personal watercraft (PWC), you should be aware that your home insurance policy only provides very limited coverage. In this article we discuss in greater detail the relationship between boats, PWCs and homeowners insurance.

Can You Use Home Insurance if Your Boat is Damaged?

A home insurance policy provides limited coverage for your boat or watercraft should it be damaged, or vandalized. In most policies, you would only be reimbursed up to $1,000 worth of coverage if your boat, jet ski or miscellaneous water craft is broken or damaged by the following:

  • Fire
  • Wind
  • Explosions
  • Hail
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Falling objects

Surprisingly, your home insurance will cover you if your watercraft is stolen, but of course only up to $1,000. When it comes to hail damage, there is a peculiar provision in which the watercraft must be in an enclosed building for the damage to qualify. For example, if a hailstorm happens and your boat or PWC is outside and gets damaged, you wouldn't be able to file a homeowners claim in that case. But if the building or storage enclosure has glass that gets shattered, letting hail enter that damages your boat, then you would be covered. Be aware though that you will likely still need to pay a deductible if you file a claim. Since homeowners policies can have deductibles either greater than or close to $1,000, most claims would not make sense to file in the first place.

Personal Property

If you have items on your boat that are stolen or destroyed, you can likely use your homeowners insurance to file a claim and recoup those losses. For example, if you brought an expensive portable speaker for an outing, and it is stolen, your home insurance policy would cover that. Certain objects may be harder to justify to your home insurance company however. Your insurer may say that things that are exclusive to your boat should be covered under a boat or personal watercraft insurance policy. For example, if you have a stereo system on your boat, or built in equipment used for fishing that are destroyed, you may need a boat insurance policy to replace those. We discuss more about boat insurance below.

Does Homeowners Liability Insurance Cover Boating Accidents?

If you injure someone or damage property with your watercraft, the liability portion of your home insurance policy can help cover any associated cost. Homeowners insurance policies come with at least $100,000 in liability coverage you can use for legal expenses or restitutions you need to pay the affected party. There are some important size and horsepower limitations when it comes to boats however.

Vessel/Motor TypeWhen is it Covered by Liability Insurance?
Inboard or Inboard-OutdriveLess than 50 HP
OutboardLess than 25 HP
SailboatSmaller than 26 feet
Jet SkisNever
Air boatsNever

Homeowners liability insurance doesn't give you much leeway when it comes to your watercraft. Generally the boat needs to be very small, and in no case will your jet ski be covered. To get more robust coverage for your boat or watercraft you should take out a boat or personal water craft (PWC) insurance policy.

What Does Boat Insurance Cover?

Boat insurance, as well as PWC insurance, provide more thorough coverage for your boat or PWC. Boat and PWC insurance policies breakdown similarly to auto insurance policies in that you get coverage for the craft itself, liability coverage, and even coverage against uninsured boaters too. With these types of policies if your boat is damaged by any of the disasters we list up top, you would be insured for the value of your boat rather than just $1,000. If you injure someone with your craft, or destroy property, the liability portion of the policy will step in to protect you no matter the size of the boat--though larger boats will likely cost more to insure.

You can also add to your boat insurance policy specialty coverages for any special equipment or accessories you have on the boat. This can come in handy if you tend to fish often, and have expensive fishing equipment. Trailers and anchors may also be insured under you policy. We would definitely recommend all boaters have a specialty policy, rather than just rely on their homeowners insurance.

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