Powerboat and sailboat insurance comparison: our 2018 review.
Here we explain the basics of marine insurance and review the best boat insurance providers.
Hopefully his policy hasn’t expired…
Finding the best boat insurance package does not have to be a difficult job. You should review insurance policies from at least 3 reputable providers, then pick the most appropriate one. Give them your credit card number and you’re done.
Next thing you know, you’re out on the water and you can relax.
The following review began as a shared resource for a group of my friends at our local marina. We all moor on the same dock (G-Dock at Marina Village) and we often found ourselves complaining about our boat insurance cost and policy details.
Full disclosure: I’m not a yacht insurance broker or agent. I teach college biology in San Diego. I’m just a long time boater who was never convinced I was on the right policy. I figured there was a need for a publicly accessible, comprehensive review of the popular powerboat and sailboat insurance providers.
After reading this article you’ll have a better idea which is the best insurance policy for you. You should also know how much boat insurance is going to cost you. Almost all the insurance reviews below contain links to receive a free online quote. So, get your boat information ready, fill out a handful of quotes and see which one offers the best policy for the lowest price.
NEWS UPDATE: (Jan. 2018) Last year, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey destroyed more than 63,000 recreational boats with an estimated combined loss of $655 million (1). This is a tragedy for the boat owners and a financial problem for many marine insurance underwriters. Large underwriters are on the hook to pay out these claims. This could bankrupt some companies. For example, Falvey Insurance Group (a huge marine underwriter) closed their yacht division after getting hit with 70 million in losses.
What does this mean to you?
Prepare for possible changes to your marine insurance policy. Premiums may increase in 2018. Talk to your broker and see if you’re affected.
I combine a range of inputs to create this list: national ratings, customer feedback, first-hand experience, industry comparisons, boat forum discussions, social media comments, boat insurance average cost, company policy information, ext. I also warn readers about common problems boaters run into with insurance providers (depreciation levels on older boats, hurricane policies, ext.)
This review is divided into 2 parts:
- Boat insurance 101: a summary of the basics of boat insurance (skip this if you’re an old salt.)
- Boat insurance reviews: we discuss many of the popular providers. Click here to jump straight to our review.
I update this boat insurance comparison page at the beginning of each year. If you have any relevant feedback on your provider, please reach out on our contact page. I’ll incorporate your comments into the next update. Also, my apologies if there’s any incorrect information on this page. I do my best to keep up with changes in the industry (policy changes, company buy-outs, ext.) Don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know if I need to correct a mistake. Thanks!
Hint #1: Many marinas require boats to have third party liability policies of $1,000,000 (smaller marinas may only ask for $300,000).
Hint #2: If you are the owner of an older boat, your insurance company may reimburse you for a claim at a ‘depreciated level’. This is often a point of contention with boaters and their insurance provider. If, for example, you damage your boat and incur $1,000.00 worth of hull damage and your provider is paying you out at a 70% depreciation level, this means that after you pay your deductible, you will only receive $300.00. Make sure you have the ‘depreciation’ conversation with your insurance agent – and then get all the specifics in writing!
This is how much your boat insurance will cost you annually. As you might expect, the broader the coverage, the higher the cost of the premium. Similar to car insurance, more expensive boats will demand a higher premium. It is worth speaking to the agent about the specifics of your boating habits. You may find you’re entitled to discounts. For example, I get a discount because I have a boating license in my state. My friend receives a discount because he stores his boat in a covered shed. If you’re aiming for cheap boat insurance, make sure you get all the premium discounts possible.
Hint #3: Get your boat inspected by the Coast Guard Auxiliary. This is a completely free, 15-point safety inspection that confirms your vessel is in compliance with all safe boating requirements. At our marina, the Coast Guard hangs fliers up each year encouraging boaters to schedule an appointment. Many boat insurance providers offer discounts for boats that have passed the Coast Guard safety inspection.
How much is boat insurance???
Here’s some basic math to calculate your boat insurance cost.
Before you start talking to insurance agents, it’s helpful to know the ballpark estimate for your annual boat insurance premium. Here’s how you get that estimate.
Boat insurance calculator
Determine the current market value of your vessel. 1.5% of that number will be a good approximation for your annual premium.
For example, I own a 30 foot sailboat that is worth $13,000.
So, 13,000 x .015 = 195.00
Therefore, for a typical policy insuring my sailboat, I would expect to pay $195 per year.
In my case, that boat insurance calculation works out about right. I’ve moved around a lot and changed boat insurance companies over the years. On average, I’ve paid about $250 annually for my premium. This has included full hull coverage for my boat, 1 million in third party liability and the regular add-ons (fuel spill, limited towing package, $10,000 in medical expenses for captain and crew, ext.).
Expect to pay a higher premium if you live in a state with a high incidence of hurricanes (South Carolina, Florida, ext.)
Hint #4: If you do live in a hurricane prone area, your insurance company may expect or demand that you haul out your boat if a confirmed, dangerous hurricane is scheduled to make landfall near your marina. This can be a major inconvenience as hauling out a boat takes time and money. Make sure to know what is required regarding approaching storms.
Remember…don’t just search for cheap boat insurance. Make sure the policy details are also sufficient for your needs.
Boat insurance…because sometimes things don’t work out.
A major selling point with a Boat U.S. policy is access to their unlimited tow package. If you’ve spent any time in the water near busy U.S. harbors then you’re probably familiar with the sight of a Boat U.S. tow boat in action. We’ve heard from many boaters that only sail in coastal U.S. waters and they say they’re very pleased with the tow coverage. Apparently, it’s also possible to get tow coverage in the Bahamas. In 2016, we heard from one Bahamas sailor who needed a tow to get his vessel back to Marsh Harbour (not sure where his boat was adrift). Boat US reimbursed him for the $2300 tow.
If you often travel long distances from shore, make sure to ask Boat U.S. on their distance limits on a rescue tow.
I saw this ship run aground in Thailand. If you’re cruising internationally, make sure your destinations are covered in your policy.
About the author…
Kevin Curran is the author of this marine insurance article and the founder of the All Things Boat website. Kevin began boating in the chilly waters of Puget Sound and the Pacific Northwest. He now teaches biology at a university in San Diego and keeps his boat in the Sea of Cortez…somewhere between Loreto and Mazatlan.
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Disclaimer: We do our best to ensure the information on allthingsboat.com is accurate and updated at all times, however, we are unable to guarantee the accuracy of all information. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and factual. However, the boat insurance average cost for a policy and the policy details will change year to year. A provider may provide cheap boat insurance one year, but then transition to high-end boating clients the next year. For the most current and complete policy details for both powerboat, yacht insurance and sailboat insurance, please verify with the provider directly on their website or through an agent. Our links to the various online boat insurance quotes will provide you with the most recent pricing information for different boat insurance company policies.