author: Dr. Kevin Curran

updated: 3-23-2017

Powerboat and sailboat insurance comparison: our 2017 review.

Here we explain the basics of marine insurance and review the best boat insurance providers.

sailboat insurance cost

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.

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:

  1. Boat insurance 101: a summary of the basics of boat insurance (skip this if you’re an old salt.)
  2. 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!

The basics of boat insurance

Boat insurance financially protects boaters from unexpected mishaps. It’s similar to auto insurance, except there’s no roads, just water.

Coverage

What is covered in your policy? You probably want your boat insurance to cover damage to your boat (hull insurance) and any damage your boat may inflict on other properties (third party liability).

Hull insurance includes repairs or, in the case of total loss of vessel, cash compensation for the agreed value of the boat.

Third party liability covers any mayhem your boat may cause. Perhaps the wind shifts just as your engine dies… and your boat slams into the marina restaurant, a public pier, another boat, ext. You want your policy to protect you from these possibly huge expenses. If you have a serious mishap at sea, you may incur additional costs for spilt fuel, medical expense, emergency towing, salvage/rescue operations. All of these items are pricey, so you want to be very clear with the specifics of your policy.

how much is boat insurance

Even good boats end up high and dry.

This is me having a bad day up in Alaska.

It happens…Stay insured!

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!

Premium

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.

best boat insurance calculator

Boat insurance…because sometimes things don’t work out.

Boat insurance reviews: our list of the best boat insurance providers

Pantaenius Yacht Insurance

Pantaenius has been in the insurance business since 1899. The yachting section of their company has been in operation since 1977. Pantaenius is very much an international entity with offices in Germany, Monaco, Spain, Denmark, Australia, Austria, United Kingdom and America.

Pantaenius offers a very popular policy called the ‘America Yacht Policy’. Their website states they currently have over 80,000 yacht owners on this policy (this is a large number for one policy). The America Yacht Policy covers boats over 27 feet in length.

Admittedly, there are some impressive features with the America Yacht Policy. Most notably, Pantaenius does not incorporate depreciations on partial loss to vessel. This means owners of older boats will not receive reduced reimbursements for damage to their vessel. Additionally, the America Yacht Policy covers many costs without the payment of a deductible. For example, personal effects are covered for owner and crew without deductible. Also, any accidents that occur during overland travel or routine storage are also covered with no deductible.

We have heard that Pantaenius is one of the most popular insurers for offshore yachts. Last year (2016) one of our readers informed us that they were T-boned by a fishing trawler and Pantaenius helped in every way possible – with no subsequent increase in rates.

However, we also heard from a frustrated Florida boater who lives on his boat and is paying an exceptionally high premium. He’s also required to haul out for every tornado storm warning that is issued. These haul outs are not cheap…

One sailor looking for a reasonable policy that included all of the Caribbean found ‘great rates and flexible navigation areas’ through a Pantaenius policy.

Here you can fill out an online questionnaire and request a quote with Pantaenius.

Boat U.S.

Boat U.S. Marine Insurance Program has been offering boat insurance, and only boat insurance, since 1966. They provide insurance for yachts, powerboats, sailboats, anglers, jet skis and all other powered crafts. In general, people are drawn into this provider because of their low rates and the strength of their emergency towing package.

Important note: Boat US was recently bought out by Geico. There is some debate online regarding whether you can get a better price on a Boat US policy if you go directly through Geico. To be thorough, you should compare the number you get on similar policies through Boat U.S. and Geico.

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.

All Boat U.S. insurance policies include 24/7 availability for assistance to emergencies, full salvage cost coverage, $25,000 base medical coverage and full coverage for any discharge of fuel/oil that may occur in a grounding, fire, collision, sinking, ext.

Boat US offer premium discounts if the boat owner completes the boat safety course via National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). If your boat is used in lakes and rivers instead of coastal salt waters then premiums are cheaper.

If you’re thinking about extending your BoatUS coverage to include Caribbean waters, be prepared – they will probably request a new survey and rigging inspection. We have heard from multiple boaters about this request. Their demands are related to the fact that winds tend to blow much stronger in the islands than along the eastern seaboard.

If you’re a liveaboard, you should also consider reaching out to Boat US. They have a reputation for not turning people away once they find out the boat is the primary residence.

Here’s a link to the Boat US online form to receive a free quote.

boat insurance cost

I saw this ship run aground in Thailand. If you’re cruising internationally, make sure your destinations are covered in your policy.

Foremost

Foremost has been around for about 60 years, they describe themselves as a ‘specialty insurance company’. Foremost provides ‘insurance choices’ that may not be offered by other companies. The company was founded in 1928 by Edward J. Frey and a few others. Interestingly, their initial motivation was to provide insurance for the mobile home community. By the 1970s, things were going well and Foremost moved into the world of boat insurance. On March 7, 2000 Foremost was acquired by Farmers Insurance Group. Farmers is the third largest insurer in the United States.

A speed boater with an oversized engine informed us that he picked up a cheap Foremost policy via Farmers.

Two other jet boat users reported that Foremost is a good fit for high-powered speed boats. Apparently, many other boat insurance companies are hesitant to insure power boats that go extremely fast and/or feature modified engines.

We also heard from a sailor (in 2016) who explained she was happy with her Foremost policy but because of the value of her vessel, she was required to complete an expensive boat survey.

Click here to get an online quote from Foremost.

Hanham Insurance Agency

Hanham Insurance is an independent agency based in Charleston, South Carolina. The majority of their client base is spread throughout the eastern US. The owner began as an insurance broker working for Lloyds in London, accommodating tailored policies for yachts.  From my observations and feedback I’ve read from Hanham clients, this small-sized insurance brokerage is an excellent choice for people searching for a customized boat policy.

Hanham Agency accommodates the range of boat sizes, but specializes in marine insurance policies in the 35-65 foot range. The agency has access to policies from most major US marine underwriters as well as from Lloyds. In general, the benefit to a smaller, customer-service driven agency – is the attention that your policy receives. I’ve learned that the owner at Hanham is unusually devoted to his clients and fights hard to settle claims in his client’s favor.

We recently heard from a Hanham client that is a ‘first-time’ boat owner. This individual had many cruising plans and needed a tailored policy on a new $300k Catalina (he planned to share time between Florida and the Caribbean, ext.) He walked away happy and impressed with the amount of time Hanham spent getting his policy done right. We heard a similar story from someone needing liability insurance on a boat maintenance company. This customer was equally impressed with the time and care that Hanham spent describing various options and, ultimately, finding the best liability policy for the marine business.

Start a conversation with Hanham Insurance Agency. Here’s a link to their quote page.

Nick Rose Insurance (NRI)

I am including a mention of Nick Rose Insurance on this review, as I’ve seen so many power boaters rave about this organization. Nick Rose is based in Valencia, CA and mostly insures boats in California, Arizona, Florida.

As I said, I’m including this mention because I’ve come across so many positive mentions from various boating forums and social media comment threads. Apparently Nick Rose is very supportive of the speed boat community. He sponsors a lot of powerboat events, including multiple race teams. He’s also clearly a preferred provider for jet boat folks and/or boaters with engine modifications. Apparently, Nick Rose is not afraid to insure very fast boats. Also, the comments I’ve heard on his customer service are very impressive. So, if you’re into fast boats and you live in CA, AZ or FL – reach out to Nick Rose.

Here’s a link to the Nick Rose Insurance page.

Here’s a link to his Facebook page, that’s another way to get in touch.

Charter Lakes

Charter Lakes began operating in 1976 as a smaller insurance company in the Great Lakes region of the United States. Relatively recently, they merged with Travelers Insurance Company and began to focus solely on marine insurance. If you spend anytime on boating forums, you’ll see that Charter Lakes is commonly mentioned as one of the best boat insurance providers. Their exclusive focus on boats and their emphasis on customer service has secured Charter Lakes as a favorite among many captains.

These folks are most well known for offering policies on charter boats (boats that are rented out to multiple users).

Charter Lakes only represents A rated insurance companies. They, like many other providers, pride themselves on their fast claim response time. They guarantee a response to a claim within 24 hours.

Fishermen are especially fond of this provider. Charter Lakes offers policies especially suited for different types of fishing boats. Whether you operate a large offshore fishing vessel, a small bass boat or you enter into tournaments, Charter Lakes has conditions and coverage options advantageous to your situation. You can request a boat insurance online quote from Charter Lakes here.

Allstate

Allstate is a massive insurance company that insures most types of assets, including boats. They were founded in 1931 by the Chairman of Sears Roebuck.

Allstate has a good reputation for providing affordable insurance for boaters. As of 2015, they claimed their average monthly premium cost for boaters is $20.00. That puts their average annual premium cost at $240.00. $240.00 is a very low price for boat insurance, however, you need to be careful with these ultra cheap policy premiums. Make sure the coverage is broad enough to include all the possible mishaps you may find yourself in. Also, keep in mind, this $240 number from Allstate will go up quickly if you own a larger boat or live in a hurricane prone location.

Part of the reason for Allstate’s lower rates is their discounts. You receive a 20% discount by combining an Allstate homeowner policy with boat insurance. If you pay the full premium upon signing up, you can knock off another 10%. And if you’ve taken an approved boat safety course, take another 5% off your premium. These discounts can add up…

We’ve heard boat surveyors comment that, in general, Allstate has a reputation for paying out claims quickly. This is obviously a huge benefit to anyone who has just experienced a loss. However, it’s important to note that Allstate only insures boaters within 100 miles of the U.S. or Canadian coast. If you’re planning on a Baja cruise or island hopping in the Caribbean, this is not going to be the best boat insurance provider for you.

Here’s a link to find an Allstate agent near you.

IMIS

IMIS, or International Marine Insurance Services, is a smaller provider based out of Maryland that has a devoted fan base. They’ve been providing service since 1987 and pride themselves on their exclusive focus on boats; all of their agents are avid boaters.

Similar to Bluewater Yachts, IMIS offers quality policies for international travelers. Their Jackline Insurance Program is designed for cruising boats sailing throughout the world. The intent with the Jackline program is to keep boaters as safe as possible while sailing off into the unknown. This program is underwritten by Markel American Insurance Company, an A-rated group by A.M. ratings company. Jackline is an ‘all risk’ policy, including coverage for ice/freezing damage, reef damage liability, pollution liability, mechanical breakdown and other mishaps that may occur while boating in exotic (i.e. possibly dangerous) locales. Medical insurance plans are also available for international travelers.

IMIS is a popular sailboat insurance provider for international cruisers

Cruisers routinely switch to IMIS once they begin their long distance adventures. An advantage to IMIS is they extend their policies into certain nations that have, historically, experienced political instability. So, if you are planning to drop anchor in Havana, Cuba or spend time in Cartagena, Columbia, IMIS can ensure you remained covered. IMIS also allows coverage on older boats as well as wooden boats, these can be issues with other providers.

Experience is a key factor when IMIS sets your premium. If you are new to boating and have ambitious international plans, you should expect to receive a high premium quote. This has been an issue for some.

One strength to IMIS, mentioned by more than a few boaters, is their response to claims in the wake of storms. Boats damaged by hurricanes in the Caribbean and Florida should expect exceptionally good service. If you have an experience contrary to this, please let us know.

We heard from a boater in Caribbean waters (in 2016) regarding the jackline policy with IMIS. They commented that the policy was expensive but worth every penny, as it had saved them from troubles many times.

IMIS can provide an online boat insurance quote here.

Mariners General Insurance Group

Mariners was founded in 1959 by Byron Chamberlain and is headquartered in Newport Beach, California. Mariners has additional offices in San Diego, CA and Bradenton, FL.

Mariners covers small boats navigating local U.S. waters as well as mega-yachts cruising around the Mediterranean. The staff at Mariners have done quite a bit of offshore boating so they’re aware of many of the mishaps associated with that activity.

Mariners offers boat coverage in their Odyssey program. This is an “All-Risk Agreed Value” policy, which includes oil pollution liability, tenders and PWC coverage, and substitute yacht coverage.

Last year, we heard from a reader that’s very pleased with her liability policy that only costs her $200.00 annually. She only cruises U.S. waters.

Here’s a link to the Mariners boat insurance quote page.

NBOA Marine Insurance

NBOA Marine Insurance is a large U.S. provider that is highly regarded for their policies on a wide range of watercraft. Like other providers, their provided insurance will depend on the boat and the experience of the owner. NBOA offers third party liability coverage from $100,000 to well over $1,000,000.

Response from boaters is largely positive regarding NBOA. People often mention their customer service as exceptional. We’ve read many positive stories detailing NBOA’s response to filed claims (quick reimbursement for towing, full coverage for a damaged drive train caused by motoring running over crab pots).

NBOA is also well regarded for their fair premium costs. Many folks have switched from Progressive and Boat U.S. and found better premiums at NBOA. If you don’t take your boat far from your home port, definitely mention that to a NBOA agent. Considerable discounts are given for boaters with restricted cruising ranges.

Boaters can get a free boat insurance quote online or contact NBOA customer service here.

Pegasus Group

The Pegasus Group is a privately owned company based in Clearwater, Florida. This group is well regarded and primarily services boats in the Florida and Caribbean area.

Our readers have informed us the customer service at Pegasus is good and agents will do everything in their power to keep boaters happy. We’ve heard from a liveaboard couple moored in a hurricane zone that were very pleased with their new $2250.00 annual premium. Pegasus did not demand a new survey, they accepted their previous 5 year old survey.

Request a marine quote here with the Pegasus Group.

Topsail Insurance

Topsail Insurance is a British boat insurance company that was launched in 1996 and now provides specialist yacht and motorboat insurance to a worldwide community. Topsail is based out of the Brighton Marina in East Sussex, England.

This group specializes in long distance and blue water cruising insurance. Their focus is boats that are cruising in the UK, Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Pacific Regions, South East Asia and Polynesia.

We heard from a well traveled Captain who claimed Topsail is unbeatable for world cruisers.

One reader of this review reached out in 2016 to tell us about his search for a new provider. He’d been with the same brokerage for 11 years but grew tired of the ‘ever-changing personnel’ and the need for lots of cumbersome forms filled out each year. After kicking tires on other providers, he happily settled in with Topsail. I haven’t heard any complaints from him since.

Request a Topsail quote for either a motorboat or a yacht here.

Sidenote: We were just informed that Topsail also has an Australian Branch. They opened in Perth in 2015. This branch was established by a couple of ‘cruising yachties’ from Perth: Cathy Charlick and Mark Ainscough. You can check out the Australian Topsail branch and access their quote application here.

Progressive

Most people are familiar with Progressive, or at least with Flo, their TV spokeswomen. Progressive represents a very large and established group of insurance companies. They began in 1937 with a drive-in claims office, they are now ‘progressive’ in that they allow online shoppers the chance to see comparison rates.

Progressive is not really set up for yacht insurance.

Progressive insures a wide range of boat types, however, there are quite a few boating scenarios that aren’t covered by Progressive. Most strikingly, Progressive will not insure a boat over 50 feet in length and/or with values over $250,000.

Progressive also won’t offer physical damage coverage on a boat that is both more than 15 years old and worth more than $20,000 (it should be noted that many boats fall into this category). They also won’t insure boats used as a primary residence (live-a-boards). And, if you have a houseboat with no engine or a boat with more than 2 owners, Progressive will not offer you a policy.

That said, most boaters are very happy with Progressive. Friends of mine that are familiar with many different boat insurance companies, report that Progressive is the quickest to pay out on a claim. That’s obviously an important criteria. We’ve heard from folks that had their boats totaled in Hurricane Sandy, they said Progressive paid up promptly. Their website makes it incredibly easy to sign up (many boaters access Progressive through their USAA account).

At the time of writing, Progressive doesn’t require a recent boat survey and they cover up to 75 miles offshore (that includes Catalina Island…for all of our California readers).

We heard from another cruising sailor in Florida (in 2016). A lightning strike damaged his sailboat. He reported that Progressive handled the experience very well.

I would say that, in general, Progressive has a reputation for being ‘no hassles’. That is the comment I hear often from boaters regarding this company. On a personal note, I’ve used Progressive when I wanted a cheap and simple ‘liability only’ policy on an older sailboat. I was mostly trying to keep my marina happy with this policy.

You can find a local Progressive agent or retrieve an online quote here.

Seaworthy (GEICO Marine Insurance)

Seaworthy is another marine insurance company that has gained a devoted following. They were established in 1989 in Annapolis, Maryland. In 2007, Seaworthy was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway. Earning the trust of Warren Buffet is, of course, a good indicator for any business. In the insurance world, this means Seaworthy became endowed with rigorous capital strength and security for policy holders.

New developments: In 2015, GEICO became the parent company of Seaworthy Insurance Company and changed the name to GEICO Marine Insurance Company. GEICO Marine Insurance Company remains a Berkshire Hathaway Company and now enjoys the support and name recognition that comes from GEICO (quote from the GEICO website).

Seaworthy features 5 different policies for different types of boats. There is a low-cost ‘actual cash value’ package for pleasure boats, and an ‘agreed hull value’ package for yachts, mega-yachts and charter boats. We’ve heard from customers that Seaworthy offers slightly better navigational limits for trips into the Caribbean (for example, Turks and Caicos is covered). If you plan to cruise these islands, make sure to discuss this with your agent.

Some users have reported that switching from Progressive to Seaworthy cut their premium in half, this may hold true for you, but will obviously depend on the specifics of your boating scenario.

It should also be noted, that in the summer of 2015, a reader of this article reached out to us to relay this story. This boater – let’s call him ‘Mike’ – spoke with a Seaworthy agent and was talked into their Premium Full Coverage. The stated full value of his vessel was set at 11,000.00.

2 months later, Mike hit ground and cracked the lower unit of his outboard engine. After going through the claims process, Mike was notified that he would only be reimbursed at an 85% depreciation level for the cost of repairs. This amounted to about 177.00 for a 1,400.00 repair. While it’s normal to see massively depreciated levels for claims on older boats, Mike was under the assumption that his ‘Premium Full coverage’ would yield better value. Mike subsequently cancelled his policy and received a refund. I think the moral of this story is that you can assume nothing – regardless of the name of the policy. Ask the agent how depreciation levels will affect claim reimbursement – and make sure to get that all in writing. If your older boat will prevent you from getting decent payment on repairs (due to depreciation), then skip the full coverage and only purchase basic liability.

You can find a Seaworthy agent via GEICO in your state and start the quote process here.

Alright…that’s the end of our review.

We hope our 2017 boat insurance comparison provided a few ideas and helped you start the process of getting your boat insured. When you’re ready, pick up the phone and get quotes from at least 3 providers. That should give you a feel for the range of price and coverage for you and your boat.

Boat safe!

Do you need some comic relief ??

Does your brain hurt from reading these boat insurance reviews and thinking about boat insurance cost?

Well, we just put together a boat name page that is pretty awesome.

Here at All Things Boat, we are all too familiar with the stereotypical boating personalities you find out on the water. So…we decided to make a boat name page organized by all these classic boater types.

Enjoy!

sailboat insurance reviews

Click image above to see our list of funny boat names.

If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to reach out.

You can message us via our All Things Boat Facebook Page.

Click here to find out the boater education/boat license requirements for your state in the US.

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.

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