Watercraft is a term that is used to generally describe fishing boats, runabouts, bowriders, cruisers, inflatables, deck boats, yachts, houseboats, pontoons, jet boats, personal watercraft. Special policies and endorsement are designed for boats and watercraft to insure that the proper coverage. There is little standardization of policies for watercraft and boat insurance. Companies have designed specific programs to provide this coverage consistent with their underwriting philosophy. Companies have homeowners endorsements available for certain watercraft that provides property and liability coverage. Also a Personal Watercraft Policy or a Boat and Yacht Policy is offered as a “stand alone” policy by some companies. We will attempt to provide information of a general nature and explain important coverages that are necessary for the boat.
Most boatowners are concerned that their investment in their watercraft is protected by property insurance. The coverage for the hull, motor and other equipment such as life protectors, oars and trailers can be covered under the property section of a boatowners policy. The property section includes protection while the boat is being operated, when it is storage or when it is being pulled by a vehicle. The coverage in this section is very broad to provide the maximum protection. Theft, collision, storm damage, fire are some examples of coverage afforded by the property section of the boatowners policy. This section of the policy includes a deductible (that portion of the loss paid by the insured). Higher deductibles offer credits to the policy which reduces the policy premium. Some boat policies can cover more than one watercraft. Many companies require separate policies for each watercraft.
Equally as important as property coverage for the boatowner is liability protection. Property damage and bodily injury caused by the operation of the boat can often exceed the amount of damage to the property damage in a boating accident. The injury to someone might be as minor as a slip and fall on the boat or as devastating as a fatal injury to a passenger. The liability section covers any operator of the boat that uses the boat with the owners permission. All activities (not excluded by the policy) are covered for bodily injury or property damage. An example of a liability exclusion is racing competition. Proper powerboat training and safety instruction are necessary a qualification for some policies. Safe boat operation programs are offered by many government entities such as state recreation boards and the Coast Guard. All owners and operators are required to have such training for permits on many waterways in various states and on federal park lands.