Cheapest Boat Insurance: How and Where To Find It

The Importance Of Boat Insurance In Florida

Boat Insurance Overview

Similar to the best car insurance options, reliable boat insurance covers costs related to boating accidents, damage to your watercraft and other parts of boat ownership. Coverage plans range from minimal liability insurance to comprehensive coverage with add-ons for extra protection.

How Much Is Boat Insurance?

Based on our research, watercraft insurance typically ranges from about $200 to $500 per year, but the cheapest boat insurance policies can start as low as $100 per year. The wide range is due to the number of variables that affect the cost of insurance.

Here are the most important factors insurers consider when determining the cost of boat insurance:

  • Storage location: Your boat has different risk factors depending on where you store it. Boat insurance tends to cost more in coastal areas where risks are higher than inland areas, for example.
  • Type of boat: Different types of boats have varying features, uses and components. Therefore, boat insurance companies charge different rates to insure them.
  • Boat condition: Typically, the better condition your boat is in, the less it will cost to insure. Some companies require an inspection before giving a quote.
  • Cruising area: Where you plan to navigate is a factor in the cost of boat insurance. Generally, you’ll have to pay more for coverage if you plan to travel around areas considered high-risk.
  • Boat horsepower: Powerboats and speedboats with high-horsepower engines may cost more to insure than slower boats.
  • Safety equipment: Some insurers offer discounts for having certain safety devices on board. You may be able to get cheaper boat insurance if you install things like automatic fire extinguishers, anti-theft equipment and tracking devices.
  • Lay-up period: Some insurers offer discounted rates for each month that a boat is decommissioned. This is known as a lay-up period.
  • Deductible amount: Like auto insurance, you can choose your boat insurance deductible. Typically, the higher you set your deductible, the less you’ll pay for coverage.

Actual Cash Value vs. Agreed Value Coverage

Many marine insurance providers offer both actual cash value (ACV) coverage and agreed value coverage. These are similar-sounding terms, but there are significant differences between the two.

ACV coverage pays the estimated value of your boat at the time of a total loss, including depreciation. Agreed value coverage, on the other hand, bases the replacement cost on an amount you set with the insurer, regardless of your boat’s value at the time of a covered loss.

Agreed value coverage is typically more expensive than ACV coverage. However, it also generally covers more since it doesn’t take depreciation into account. A boat insurance agent can help break down the details.

Cheapest Boat Insurance: Top Providers

Inexpensive doesn’t have to mean inadequate. Fortunately, some of the cheapest boat insurance comes from the country’s top providers. The table below shows the best companies for cheap boat coverage.

Boat Insurance Provider Overall Rating Cost Rating Editor’s Award
1. Progressive 9.3 9.1 Editor’s Choice
2. Markel 9 7.9 Most Comprehensive Coverage
3. BoatUS 9 7.1 Best Member Organization
4. National Boat Owners Association 8.9 7.2 Best Marketplace
5. Foremost 8.8 7.1 Best Included Benefits
6. State Farm 8.7 7.2 Top Choice for Commercial Coverage

1. Progressive: Editor’s Choice

ProsRates start as low as $100 per yearLarge selection of coverage optionsFew restrictions on cruising areas
ConsMany stated restrictions on boat types

Progressive earned our Editor’s Choice award in our review of the best boat insurance due to its ample discount opportunities and wide array of coverage options. Most boaters can find the coverage they need at highly competitive rates through the insurer. Here are some highlights of Progressive boat insurance.

Notable Discounts

  • Original owner: Progressive offers a discount if you are the first and only owner of your vessel.
  • Advanced quote: You’ll get cheaper boat insurance if you buy it at least one day in advance of your coverage beginning.
  • Prompt payment: Progressive gives discounts to policyholders who continue to pay their premiums on time.

Notable Coverages

  • Sign & Glide® on-water towing: You can opt to cover the cost of water towing and other emergency services as part of your boat insurance.
  • Propulsion Plus® mechanical breakdown coverage: This MBI coverage pays for the cost of wear-and-tear repairs, which aren’t typically covered by standard insurance.
  • Trailer trip interruption: For an additional fee, trip interruption coverage will reimburse you for up to $500 in food, transportation and lodging costs if you break down over 100 miles from home.

2. Markel: Most Comprehensive Coverage

ProsSeveral coverage add-ons for professionals and boating enthusiastsMany discount opportunities for older and more experienced marinersExtensive liability coverage options
ConsNot many local agents or officesNo bundling optionsFewer discounts for newer or younger boaters

Markel is a specialty insurer with a wealth of coverage options geared toward fishing pros and other serious boaters. For example, the company offers liability insurance for fishing companies and marine businesses, as well as optional coverage for rods, reels and other fishing equipment. Many of Markel’s discounts are also tailored toward experienced boaters who spend a lot of time on the water.

Notable Discounts

  • Experienced driver: If you have five or more years of experience operating a boat, you can get a discount on your Markel policy.
  • Mature operator: Markel offers discounted rates to boat drivers over the age of 40.
  • Diesel engine: Having a diesel-powered engine on your boat can earn you a discount.

Notable Coverages

  • Tournament fee reimbursement: This coverage reimburses fishing tournament entry fees if you miss the tournament for one of several qualifying reasons.
  • Fishing equipment: This add-on offers coverage for all your fishing gear, from tackle boxes to trolling motors.
  • Professional liability: Commercial anglers, tour guides and others who use their boats for commercial purposes can add extra coverage for injuries and property damage related to their work.
  • Ice and freezing damage: If you paid for winterization services but your boat still suffers damages from ice or freezes, this covers the cost of repairs and replacement parts.

3. BoatUS: Best Member Organization

ProsBacked by one of the country’s top insurance providersExtended coverage range for Bahamas, Mexico, Caribbean and moreMany unique coverage options
ConsBoatUS membership costs extraPolicy options vary by vessel and state

As a specialty boat insurer, BoatUS is backed by Geico — one of the country’s largest and most reputable providers. The company is a membership organization that provides benefits and also lobbies government bodies for a wide range of marine issues.

Not only does BoatUS offer some of the most extensive coverage options, but it also provides coverage for the most expansive cruising areas among insurers in our review — a significant perk for serious boaters. However, note that coverage options vary depending on the type of boat you want to insure and where it’s located.

Notable Discounts

  • Bundling: You can get a multi-policy discount if you bundle your Geico auto insurance with your boat insurance.
  • Multi-boat: BoatUS offers a discount if you insure more than one vessel under the same policy.

Notable Coverages

  • Unlimited towing: You can opt to include unlimited towing from TowBoatUS in your policy. The price of this add-on is based on the length and value of your boat.
  • Diminishing deductible: With this option, you can reduce your deductible by 25% each year you go without a claim. Eventually, you can drop your deductible to zero.

4. National Boat Owners Association: Best Marketplace

ProsExtensive options through marketplace modelValuable perks included with optional membershipOffers assistance choosing a policy and provider
ConsNot a direct providerCoverage and discount offerings not readily available on websiteMembership not included with insurance policy

Unlike the other companies on this list, the National Boat Owners Association (NBOA) is not a direct provider. Instead, it’s an insurance marketplace where agents can help match you with the coverage and company that best suits your needs and budget. Since the NBOA works with a variety of providers, its rates, discounts and coverages vary.

The NBOA is also a membership organization with valuable benefits such as industry discounts, towing and more. While membership is not included with insurance policies, it is open to anyone at two different price tiers.

5. Foremost: Best Included Benefits

ProsCurated coverage packages for different boats and usesMany discount opportunitiesWaterside assistance and towing included in standard packages
ConsMay deny or limit coverage based on credit scoreSome coverage options available only with top-tier Elite package

Foremost is a specialty insurance subsidiary of Farmers, one of the largest insurance companies in the country. In addition to the more traditional a la carte approach to building a policy, Foremost offers coverage packages designed to fit different needs and types of boats. The company includes emergency waterside assistance in many of its policies and several desirable add-ons in upper-tier packages.

Notable Discounts

  • Paid-in-full: Foremost offers a discount when you pay for your policy up front rather than in monthly payments.
  • Safety course: You can get cheaper boat insurance with Foremost if you complete a state-approved boat safety course.

Notable Coverages

  • Hurricane haul-out: This coverage pays for all or some of the cost of moving your boat to safety in the event of a hurricane.
  • Pollution liability: You can choose to cover costs related to fuel spills and other types of boat pollution, including cleanup, civil penalties and more.
  • Boat lift: With this additional coverage, Foremost will cover damages to your boat lift.

6. State Farm: Top Choice for Commercial Coverage

ProsGreat coverage options for fishersBasic policies include emergency assistanceOffers rental boat and other commercial coverage
ConsFew discounts advertised

As the country’s largest insurer, it should come as no surprise that State Farm offers a broad range of boat coverage. However, the company offers more specialized boat insurance than one might expect. With specialty coverage options for commercial fishers as well as for boats used as rentals, State Farm boat insurance is an especially solid choice for people who use their boats for business.

Notable Discounts

  • Lay-up: If you store your boat for several months out of the year, you could earn a discount on your boat insurance premium.
  • Fresh water: In some areas, you can get a discount from State Farm if you do not use your boat in salt water.

Notable Coverages

  • Boat rental liability: State Farm offers coverage for boats that you rent short-term from others.
  • Boat rented to others: You can also get coverage for boats that you rent to others to protect you from liability claims made against you.
  • Boat rental reimbursement and liability: Similar to rental car coverage, this covers the cost of a rental boat while yours is being repaired for covered damage. It also includes liability insurance for the boat you rent.

What Does Boat Insurance Cover?

In short, boat insurance can cover pretty much anything related to your boat that you want it to cover. You can get cheap liability coverage that only protects you from paying damages to others, high-limit comprehensive coverage with a full portfolio of add-ons and everything in between.

Types of Boats You Can Insure

Not all companies offer boat insurance for all types of watercraft. For example, some providers may not cover non-motorized boats like kayaks and canoes while others will.

While coverage availability varies, these are the types of boats you can typically insure:

  • Bass boats
  • Bowriders
  • Cruisers
  • Dinghies
  • Fishing boats
  • Jet boats
  • Personal watercraft (PWC) such as Jet Skis
  • Pontoon boats
  • Powerboats/speedboats
  • Sailboats
  • Yachts

Standard Boat Insurance Coverage

Standard boat coverages are very similar to the standard types of coverage for auto insurance. Boat insurance breaks down into liability coverage, personal property coverage and personal medical coverage.

These are the standard boat insurance categories and what they cover:

  • Bodily injury liability: Medical expenses and lost wages of other parties in an accident for which you are found at fault
  • Property damage liability: Damages to other boats and personal property in an at-fault boating accident
  • Collision insurance: Damages to your boat regardless of who is found at fault for an accident, similar to automotive collision insurance
  • Comprehensive insurance: Damages to your boat from causes other than accidents, such as vandalism, extreme weather, fire and more
  • Medical payments: Medical costs for you and your passengers regardless of who caused a boating accident
  • Uninsured watercraft coverage: Damages if a boater who causes an at-fault accident lacks sufficient insurance

What Is Full Coverage Boat Insurance?

When you shop for boat insurance, you may see the term “full coverage.” This refers to a policy that combines liability coverage with collision and comprehensive coverage, ensuring your boat is covered from practically any kind of damage. Liability coverage compensates other people when you cause damage in an accident. But full coverage protects your boat’s hull, inboard or outboard motors, fittings, interior, machinery and other attached equipment regardless of who caused the accident.

Additional Boat Insurance Options

Full coverage boat insurance covers damages to your boat in most situations. But as any sailor knows, there are plenty of other expenses related to boating. Boat policy add-ons can help cover many of the additional costs related to owning, transporting and driving your vessel.

These are some of the most common boat insurance add-ons and what they cover:

  • Roadside assistance: Towing and other roadside services if the vehicle towing your boat trailer breaks down
  • On-water towing: The cost of towing your boat to the shore if it breaks down
  • Water sports injuries or damages: Injuries and damages sustained while participating in water sports like water-skiing, tubing or fishing
  • Fuel spill cleanup: The cost of cleaning up an area after you spill fuel
  • Wreckage removal: The cost of removing your sunken boat from an area and cleaning up if it sinks
  • Ice and freeze damage: Damage to your boat due to extreme cold weather or ice
  • Mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI): Similar to an extended warranty, this covers the cost of repairs to your boat in the event of mechanical failure
  • Hurricane haul-out: The cost of moving your boat to safety if a hurricane is approaching the area where it’s stored
  • Personal property: The cost of life jackets, mobile phones, stereo equipment and other personal items aboard your boat

What Boat Insurance Doesn’t Cover

Boat insurance covers a lot — but not everything. Like other forms of insurance, there are exceptions and exclusions to your coverage.

Unless it specifically says otherwise, your boat insurance likely won’t offer physical damage coverage from the following causes:

  • Animals
  • Corrosion
  • Damage while using drugs or alcohol
  • Denting
  • Deterioration
  • Freezing
  • Manufacturing defects
  • Marring
  • Mold
  • Renovations
  • Servicing and maintenance
  • Wear and tear

Do You Need Boat Insurance?

While having coverage is always a safer choice than not having it, there’s a chance that you may not actually need boat insurance. Before shopping for insurance for your watercraft, it’s worth deciding whether you need coverage.

Unlike car insurance, people in most parts of the country aren’t required to carry coverage for their boats. Only Arkansas and Utah require boaters to have an active insurance policy.

However, many marinas require you to carry liability coverage. So, while state law may not require you to be insured, many of the places that allow you to dock and launch your boat might. Some lenders also require borrowers to maintain coverage on their boat until they pay off the loan.

Boat Owner Risks

Just because you may not be required to have boat insurance doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea. There are many risks that come with storing, transporting and using your boat:

  • Collisions: When one boat hits another on the water, the collision can cause serious injuries and property damage.
  • Damage during storage: Boats can be damaged while in storage when they’re moved, mishandled or hit by other objects.
  • Damage while moored: When your boat is moored, it can easily be damaged by sudden storms in coastal areas, or by other boats coming in and out of a marina.
  • Damage during transit: When on the road to its next destination, your boat is susceptible to potential issues like car accidents, road debris and extreme weather.
  • Swamping: It’s easy to run your boat into high ground underwater, and doing so often results in damage.
  • Sinking: In addition to the loss of your vessel, removing your boat from the water after it sinks is an expensive process.
  • Storm damage: Storms put docked boats and boats in storage near coastal areas at risk for physical damage, flood damage and sinking.
  • Theft: Boat theft isn’t as common as car theft, but it’s still a real risk for boat owners — according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), there were 4,240 watercraft thefts in 2019 alone.
  • Fire: Onboard fires are a risk for boats and boaters.

Boat Accident Statistics

Boating accidents are a considerable risk on the water, even for experienced boaters. In 2020, the U.S. Coast Guard reported 5,265 accidents that resulted in 767 deaths and 3,191 injuries. These accidents accounted for approximately $62.5 million in property damage.

According to Coast Guard data, boating accidents — and the injuries and deaths that result — are on the rise. Compared to 2019, the number of boating accidents increased by 26.3%. The number of injuries from boat accidents rose 24.7% and the number of deaths increased by 25.1%.

In addition, data from the USCG shows that property damage costs from marine accidents have increased. The year 2020 saw $62.5 million in property damages related to boat accidents. This is a 36% increase from 2017.

The bottom line is that while you may not technically need boat insurance in most places, owning a boat without it is a huge risk.

How To Get the Cheapest Boat Insurance

We’ve discussed how and why coverage rates for boats vary. While some factors are beyond your control, there are changes and adjustments you can make to get the cheapest boat insurance available to you.

See If Your Homeowners Insurance Covers Your Boat

Most home insurance policies have limited coverage for boats and other watercrafts in certain situations. However, most policies only pay up to $1,000 to cover damages. This amount is a common deductible for many homeowners policies, meaning it may not make sense to file a claim.

Nonetheless, your homeowners insurance typically covers damage to your boat in the following situations:

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

In addition, your homeowners insurance likely offers you liability coverage in the event of an at-fault accident. Most homeowners policies come with coverage you can use for restitution and legal expenses.

Find Boat Insurance Discounts

Discounts are a great way to find the cheapest boat insurance. These are some of the discounts you’re likely to find:

  • Multi-policy: Bundling your boat insurance with your auto or home insurance policy can save you money overall.
  • Multi-boat: You may be able to save on your premiums if you insure more than one boat under the same policy.
  • Boat education: If you take an approved boat safety course, you can get a discount from most insurance providers.
  • Paid-in-full: You can earn a discount from many providers if you pay for your entire premium up front rather than in monthly payments.
  • Claims-free: Insurers often offer a discount if you go for an extended period of time without filing any claims.
  • Association: Members of organizations like the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, other military groups, professional organizations and more may be eligible for discounts.
  • Diesel fuel: Some providers offer discounts on coverage for diesel-powered watercraft.

While these are the most common boat insurance discounts, they’re not the only ones. The best way to learn all the savings opportunities available to you is to talk to an insurance agent.

Set a Maximum Lay-Up Period

Some providers offer discounted rates based on the length of time your boat is decommissioned. For some people, this is as short as December through February. But other boaters may only use their watercraft during summer months.

Not all insurance companies offer discounts for lay-up periods. But if it’s an option, it’s a great way to save money. Be realistic about when you plan to use your boat and maximize your lay-up period for the greatest discount.

Also, it’s important to note that some insurance policies only offer this discount because they do not cover damages that occur during the lay-up period. If you think your boat is at risk of being damaged while decommissioned, you may want to consider whether the savings you’d get on coverage are worth the additional risk.

Decide What Coverage You Actually Need

With almost any insurance product, more coverage is typically a good idea if you can afford it. However, if you’re looking for cheap boat insurance, it makes sense to figure out what coverage you do — and don’t — need.

For example, someone in Florida who uses their vessel occasionally for recreational boating doesn’t need the same levels and types of coverage as someone in North Carolina who uses their bass boat every day for commercial fishing. When you’re looking to save on boat insurance, be realistic about how much you will use your boat and what you’ll use it for.

Take a Boat Safety Course

Statistics show that boater safety courses can significantly reduce the chance of an accident. That’s why insurers typically offer a substantial discount for completing one.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the operator had not received any boater safety training in 77% of boat-related deaths that occurred in 2020. Only 12% of deaths occurred on watercraft where the operator received a certificate from a nationally approved boating safety program.

Boat safety courses can reduce the chance of an accident, but they can also reduce your boat insurance premiums. These days, you can find a wide selection of approved in-person and online options. Speak with a local insurance agent to see which programs their company recognizes for boat insurance discounts.

Shop For Boat Insurance Quotes

No one provider offers the cheapest boat insurance for every person and boat. While one company may be the cheapest for your neighbor, they may not offer the cheapest rates for you.

Just like you would compare car insurance quotes, we always recommend getting boat insurance quotes from multiple providers. That way, you can compare quotes from insurers to see which one offers the lowest boat insurance rates for you.

Cheapest Boat Insurance: Conclusion

Although you may not be required to have boat insurance, it’s worth considering since boating accidents and the costs that come with them are on the rise. Watercraft coverage can protect you from major financial losses and offer peace of mind, usually for just a few hundred dollars a year.

There are some simple strategies to finding the cheapest boat insurance. Assess how much coverage you actually need, find savings opportunities, take a boat safety course and be sure to shop around for quotes from multiple providers.



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