How Much Does Boat Insurance Cost?
Nearly half of boats are uninsured primarily due to high premiums and deductibles, but boating without insurance is the same as driving without it—it’s very risky and in some states, it’s illegal. Let’s look at when you need insurance and how much its’ likely to cost.
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Average Boat Insurance Costs: Per Month and Per Year
As a responsible owner, your boat should be insured from the minute you take ownership or control of it. Boat insurance costs vary and can run from $500 per year for smaller boats to thousands of dollars for large yachts.
A rule of thumb is that annual premiums will total 1 to 3 percent of the value of the vessel.
- For example, a $50,000 boat will have annual premiums of $500 – $3,000 and a policy for a $200,000 boat will cost $3,000-$6,000 per year. This doesn’t hold for very large yachts where the percentages as well as the absolute numbers rise dramatically.
- Big yachts will have additional equipment and possibly professional crew, or they may be chartered all of which adds to the overall coverage costs.
You can buy boat insurance online or get a quote from specialized agents like GEICO/BoatUS, who may also be able to provide a boat insurance calculator to get you started.
How Much Should I Insure My Boat For?
There are several factors that will dictate how much you should insure a boat for:
- Size, vessel type and value
- New or pre-owned
- Where you will be boating
Size, type and value
Bigger and more expensive vessels will require higher insurance coverage limits and higher premiums. Also, high performance boats (like fast cars) command a premium because of the risks that go with the kind of boating they engage in.
New or pre-owned
New boats are easier to insure because presumably, there are fewer risks of equipment failure. However, the coverage for new boats may be more expensive simply due to the higher value of the vessel itself.
How much does it cost to insure a used boat? Well, that depends. An insurance company may require a current survey to make certain that the boat is in a seaworthy condition. Surveys cost money and the premiums for older boats may be higher or lower depending on the boat’s condition. Some insurers won’t cover boats older than 20 years.
Cruising grounds (where you’re be doing most of your boating)
Boat insurance costs will vary by state with some being much higher than others. If you boat in waters that are known for hurricanes, you may have to add coverage in certain seasons and geographies. If the boat will be stored ashore for an extended period, you may qualify for a discount.
Outside of insurance, be sure to read our guide outlining the costs of boat ownership and what expenses you can expect.
Why is Boat Insurance So Expensive?
There are risks that go with boating—collision, onboard damage, injury, environmental impact, etc. There are fewer experienced boaters on the water than there are drivers on the road so boat insurance costs can be steep.
How Can I Lower My Boat Insurance Costs?
Some insurers will offer a discount for having multiple policies with the company, for having a good driving record, for paying a year’s worth of premiums up front, or for the owner/operator completing boating safety courses. You can also opt to lower monthly premiums by raising the deductible.
Commercial Boat Insurance, Peer-to-Peer, & Charters
Insurance costs rise when the boat is chartered or used for commercial purposes, because it’s expected that it will be used more frequently and will carry paying passengers.
This extends to peer-to-peer boat rentals, like Boatsetter rentals, where private owners lease their boats with or without a captain. If decide to become a Boatsetter owner and list your boat for rent, you’ll have peace-of-mind through coverage provided by the company’s exclusive peer-to-peer boat rental policy provided through GEICO/BoatUS.
So, is Getting Boat Insurance Worth It?
Absolutely. Accidents happen so whether there are medical costs, expensive property damage, legal fees or the cleanup of an oil/fuel spill, you’ll want the boat you rent or buy to be covered.
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Zuzana Prochazka is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer with regular contributions to more than a dozen sailing and powerboating magazines and online publications including Southern Boating, SEA, Latitudes & Attitudes and SAIL. She is SAIL magazines Charter Editor and the Executive Director of Boating Writers International. Zuzana serves as judge for SAIL’s Best Boats awards and for Europe’s Best of Boats in Berlin.
A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana founded and manages a flotilla charter organization called Zescapes that takes guests adventure sailing at destinations worldwide.
Zuzana has lived in Europe, Africa and the United States and has traveled extensively in South America, the islands of the South Pacific and Mexico.