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The Importance of Boat Insurance in Florida

The Importance of Boat Insurance in Florida

Is there anything better than relaxing on a boat off the Palm Coast? Flagler County boaters are lucky to have such lovely waters to sail on. However, to have a truly relaxing boat experience, you’d better have good boat insurance.

Florida doesn’t legally require boat owners to insure their vessels unless they have an outstanding loan. But this does not mean you don’t need boat insurance. Setting sail without ample insurance protection is a huge risk. A good insurance policy will give you peace of mind and protect your financial assets so you can truly sit back, relax, and ride the waves. Keep reading to learn more about boat insurance, what it covers, and how to find a good policy.

What Does Boat Insurance Cover?

The importance of boat insurance becomes more clear once you understand the protection that it offers. Like car insurance, boat insurance typically includes several different kinds of coverage.

Property Coverage

Property coverage pays for any damage to the boat itself. If your boat is damaged in an accident, this type of coverage will pay for the damage to be repaired. (If the accident is another boater’s fault, then their insurance policy should pay for the damage to your boat, but if you’re at fault in an accident, your policy should cover the damages.)

Property coverage will also come into play if you damage your boat while docking it, loading it on the trailer, or even storing it in the harbor. All it takes is one mistake to cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. Boat insurance can make these repairs far more affordable. This type of coverage typically applies to all parts of the boat, from the motor to the interior.

Personal Liability Coverage

Personal liability coverage pays for any damage that your boat happens to cause to another person’s property. For instance, if you cause a boating accident, this type of coverage will pay to repair the damage to the other party’s boat. 

Personal liability coverage also pays for damage to non-boat property. For example, if you crash into a shoreline and damage someone’s private yard, this type of insurance coverage would pay for the damage.

Medical Coverage

This type of insurance is sometimes known as bodily injury coverage. It will pay for medical expenses should anyone be injured in your boat or by your boat. For instance, if you invite a friend to come sailing with you and they are injured on your boat, your bodily harm insurance should cover any related medical bills.

This insurance also covers injuries caused during boating accidents. If you accidentally collide with another boat and the passengers on that boat are injured, your medical coverage should pay for their associated doctor’s bills and other medical expenses.

Uninsured Watercraft Coverage

This type of coverage is especially important in states like Florida, where not all boaters are required to carry insurance. If you happen to get into an accident with an uninsured boater, then your uninsured watercraft coverage will cover the damage caused to your boat, as well as any medical costs accrued by you and your passengers.

Boating without uninsured watercraft coverage is very risky. Imagine if an uninsured boater were to collide with you and then refuse to pay for the thousands of dollars of damage caused to your boat and your person. Without uninsured watercraft coverage, you would be on the hook for those bills. 

Trailer Coverage

If you use a trailer to haul your boat, then you should purchase a boat insurance policy that includes coverage for the trailer. This way, if the trailer is damaged in an accident or during storage, the insurance company will pay to repair the damage.

Some boat insurance policies automatically come with trailer coverage. In other cases, trailer coverage can be added to a policy as an additional rider. Either way, if you have a boat trailer, it’s important to make sure it’s insured along with your boat.

Choosing a Boat Insurance Policy

With so many companies offering boat insurance, how do you choose the right one? To some degree, choosing the right boat insurance is a matter of preference. The best policy for your neighbor may not be the best policy for you. So, it’s wise to work with an independent insurance agent who can evaluate your needs and recommend the best policy to meet them.

With that being said, there are a few key tips to follow when choosing a boat insurance policy.

1. Check for Fuel-Spill Coverage

Under the Oil Pollution Act and Clean Water Act, it is illegal to discharge fuel or oil into U.S. waters. In other words, if your boat spills fuel or oil, you will be responsible for any related cleanup costs. Fuel spills do happen from time to time, so you should make sure your boat insurance policy covers cleanup costs. Typically, fuel spill coverage falls under the umbrella of liability coverage. 

2. Pay Attention to the Deductible

Like most other kinds of insurance, boat insurance comes with a deductible. This is the amount that you must personally pay towards the damages before your insurance kicks in. There are some policies with deductibles as low as $250, and others with deductibles in the $1,000 – $2,000 range.

The higher the deductible, the cheaper the insurance policy tends to be. However, you need to make sure that you can afford to pay your insurance deductible if you were to file a claim. Don’t purchase boat insurance with a deductible you would not be able to pay.

3. Look at the Coverage Limits

Boat insurance policies typically have separate coverage limits for property damage, personal liability, and medical coverage. If you have costs that exceed your coverage limits, then you’ll be expected to pay them out-of-pocket. 

Pay especially close attention to your medical coverage limits. If two or three people are injured in an accident, the medical bills could quickly exceed a $25,000 or even $50,000 medical coverage limit. It’s often worth paying a little more for insurance with a higher medical coverage limit, especially if you routinely take friends out on your boat.

4. Choose a Local Insurer

Whenever possible, it is best to choose a boat insurance company with representatives in your local area. This way, the insurer is more likely to understand the nuances of boating and boat insurance in Florida. They will make more informed recommendations, resulting in better coverage for you.

With a local insurance agent, you can also go sit down and meet with a live person when you need to file a claim or make changes to your policy. This often results in clearer communication than trying to negotiate solely over the phone or via the internet.

Even if your boat loan is fully paid off, you really should carry boat insurance in the state of Florida. Sailing the cool, blue water is more enjoyable when you don’t have to worry about the costs associated with an unfortunate accident. Contact Flagler County Insurance Agency to learn more about our boat insurance policies. Our friendly staff members can create the perfect insurance plan for you.