The ABC's of protecting yourself and your family if you own a boat!

Have you ever heard that the best two days of owning a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it? I have owned several boats and can tell you that if you enjoy being on the water everyday is your best day. Boats are so much fun but sometimes they can be a little too much fun. People tend to get really crazy with a boat especially when they are towing someone on a tube. I have seen my share of people get whipped around at warp speeds and end up flipping over at 50 mph. 

I heard a comedian talking about his tubing adventure and how he separated his shoulder being pulled by a boat on a tube. He said he was whipped across the wake and went 20 feet airborne and crashed hard on the tube and then flipped off. He then explained how he was trying to swim with his one good arm while trying to waive for the driver of the boat. The way he explained it was hysterical.

If you are looking for a solid boat insurance policy in Clermont, FL, you have found the right place in Southern Insurance Group. Because we are an independent agency, we will shop your boat insurance coverage with our multiple carriers to find your best pricing. Most insurance carriers don't necessarily offer the best rates for all types of boats. They may offer great rates for bow riders pleasure boats but have terrible rates on pontoon boats or jet skis. As an independent agency, we know which carriers offer the best niche for your style boat and will usually have the best rate as a result. 


Here is what a standard boat insurance policy covers:

  • Physical damage-covers the hull, motor, trailer for damage or loss or theft.
  • Liability-protects you in a lawsuit from a negligent.
  • Medical payments-pays on behalf of the insured for injuries sustained from a guest on your boat.
  • Personal contents-provides coverage for items in the boat that are your contents like fishing pools and equipment, clothes, cameras and other related items.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage-this provides protection for your injuries and pain and suffering from an uninsured boat hitting you. 

Does homeowner insurance cover your boat? 

If you have a Clermont homeowner's insurance policy you may have some coverage for your watercraft but it is very, very minimal. A typical homeowners policy may pay up to $1,000 or $1500 to repair damage to your boat, but -- guess what? -- that damage has to occur while the boat is at your home. This is not exactly the kind of coverage you need on a watercraft. In addition, there may be some liability coverage, but it depends on the size of your engine --- normally only outboard engines of 25 hp or less.

You could gamble and not buy insurance for your watercraft, but that's a big gamble. You're risking not only losing or severely damaging the boat in an accident, but possibly your other assets if your boat causes damage and/or injuries to other boats and/or boaters.

Lots of Options...How to Choose

First, you need to know that there are three types of "boats."

  • Anything less than 16 feet long is usually called "personal watercraft" by most insurers. This includes Jet Skis and Waverunners.
  • "Boats" are 16 feet to 25 feet, 11 inches.
  • Anything at least 26 feet long is classified as a "yacht."

You will find that insurers have varying appetites for these types of watercraft. For this insurance, smaller is often not better. In fact, personal watercraft tends to be more accident-prone than most kinds of boats and yachts.

Some insurers won't provide coverage for your personal watercraft at all or will only provide coverage if it is part of a larger policy. Your boat insurance policy should include coverage for injuries to you and your passengers, the craft itself, liability (for damage and injuries to other crafts and people) and theft.

* Note. If you use your watercraft for water-skiing, make sure you get coverage for this exposure as well. (Depending on the insurance company, it may not be automatically covered.) You can also get coverage for the trailer(s) you use to transport the watercraft.

Insurance for Powerboats, Sailboats

In the insurance world, "boats" are usually smaller powerboats and sailboats. Standard policies for boats cover damage to the craft, including damage caused by fire, lightning, theft, vandalism, collisions, and windstorms.

The coverage is usually available for the boat itself, outboard motor(s), the boat's trailer and personal property on the craft that is part of the normal operation of the vessel. Some insurers offer separate coverage for fishing equipment.

Depending on the insurance company and the age of your boat, you may find a variety of settlement options in the event that your boat experiences a total loss. The best coverage, usually available only on recently manufactured boats, is "replacement cost" where the company will buy you a similar brand new boat. Other options include "agreed value" where you and the insurance company agree in advance what the settlement value will be in a total loss, and "actual cash value or ACV" where the insurance company will pay the fair market value of the boat at the time of the loss up to a specified rating base.

The standard boat insurance policy also provides liability coverage, which is usually offered in increments of $100,000 to as much as $1 million. Therefore, it is similar to auto insurance liability in terms of what is available.

Most boat policies in Clermont also cover medical expenses incurred by you, your family and any other passengers onboard. Some policies also provide coverage for injuries caused by uninsured boaters or by boaters who don't have enough insurance. If this sounds like uninsured motorist coverage in an auto insurance policy, it basically serves the same purpose.

* Tip. If you're shopping for boat insurance, it's wise to consider those policies that offer this "UIB" coverage. Our agents would be happy to discuss this with your further.

Insurance for Yachts

If your watercraft is 26 feet or longer, you may need to buy yacht insurance, which provides basically the same coverage as boat insurance, but the policy terms (or vocabulary) are different. Under a boat policy, coverage for damage to the craft is called "physical damage."

Under a yacht policy, the boat is referred to as "hull." Liability coverage under a yacht policy carries the name "property and indemnity," which insurance people often abbreviate to P&I. As with boat liability coverage, P&I is available in increments of $100,000. Depending on the size of your craft, you can buy P&I limits from $300,000 to as much as $50 million.

* Note. Like boat insurance, you should seek a yacht policy that offers coverage for medical payments (for you and your passengers) and uninsured boaters.

The cost of your boat or yacht policy is based on a variety of factors: horsepower; how fast it moves (it can cost as much as 50% more to insure a speedboat than it does a sailboat of similar size); where it is to be used; age of the craft and experience of the vessel's operator.

* Tip. Insurers often offer discounts of 5% to 20% to those boat/yacht owners who have taken an approved boating safety course. (In some states, such courses are required to operate a boat or yacht.) Discounts are available, from some insurers, for newer vessels and protective devices (depth finders, ship-to-shore radios, burglar alarms). You can also save money on the policy by electing a higher deductible.

Like boating itself, watercraft insurance is not cheap. As such, it truly pays to shop around. There are a lot of different policies and coverage options available. Some policies might be significantly cheaper than others, but they don't offer the coverages you need.

* Tip. This is a complex area of insurance with lots of options. Talk to our office. Let us help you to assess the many options out there and find the coverage that best suits your needs and best protects your assets.