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Watercraft Insurance

Navigating Your Boat Insurance Options in Florida

Boat insurance is not mandated by law in Florida – but it’s a really good idea. In addition, your lender may require it and most marinas you use may insist you carry a minimum amount of insurance, especially if you dock or store your boat there.


Properly insuring your vessel before you venture out onto the water protects you and your passengers in several important ways. Most significantly, it protects against financial loss if your boat is damaged or people on board are injured in a boating accident. It also covers non-collision events due to covered risks, such as high winds, lightning, fire, theft, or vandalism. Liability coverage, which can protect your assets if you’re sued, and towing / emergency assistance are some of the offerings available to you with boat insurance.


Watercraft Coverages Available


Whether you’re seeking to insure a catamaran, speedboat, or other seafaring vessel, The Windward Insurance Agency agents can help you find the best deal on boat insurance. Most watercraft insurance policies cover vessels up to 26' in overall length; if your boat is bigger, it may qualify for yacht insurance.


What coverages are available to you will vary, depending on the insurance carrier you choose. Below are the most commonly available vessel coverages. Separate deductibles may apply.


Physical Damage Coverage


This can help repair or replace your boat if it is damaged/destroyed in a boating accident. It also covers damage due to covered non-collision events, such as hurricanes, lightning, fire, theft, etc. The most notable exception to this coverage is damage due to wear and tear (expected deterioration over time), which is NOT covered by a boat insurance policy.


There are two primary ways watercrafts are valued in a boat insurance policy:


  • Actual cash value – depreciation is subtracted at payout; ideal for older boats
  • Agreed-upon value – payout based on the value determined at the time the policy is bound


So, what parts of your vessel are covered by physical damage coverage? Most importantly, it covers the boat structure, machinery, and equipment – sometimes collectively referred to as hull insurance. Life jackets, onboard furniture, and ship-to-shore cords are also generally considered part of this coverage. Physical damage coverage also protects auxiliary equipment (boat trailer, etc.) as well as personal property (clothing, fishing rods and reels, scuba equipment, etc.).


Boat Liability Coverage


Liability coverage is a critical component of any boat insurance policy. It protects you and your assets in the event you are sued and found legally liable for causing bodily injuries or property damage to others with your boat. It can pay for your attorney fees and judgments/awards issued against you. The amount of liability coverage you get should be enough to protect your net worth.


Medical Payments Coverage


This is used to pay the minor medical bills of anyone injured getting into, off of, or while riding on your vessel – regardless of fault.


Uninsured/Underinsured Boaters Coverage


If your vessel is hit by an uninsured (or underinsured) vessel or in a hit-and-run incident, this can help pay for boat damage and/or bodily injury to you and your passengers. This coverage is particularly important since boat insurance is not required in Florida – so, odds are you may run into uninsured boaters around the state.


Towing & Emergency Services


This coverage reimburses you for the reasonable cost of towing you back to a nearby port when you break down or are stranded at sea. It may also include fuel delivery and a jump-start.


Jet Skis & Personal Watercraft


A separate policy is required to insure your personal watercraft (PWS). Personal watercraft refers to those recreational water vehicles you can stand, kneel, or sit on – rather than ride inside of like a boat. The most common examples are Jet Skis, WaveRunners and Sea-Doos. The good news is this coverage protects you and anyone you permit to ride your PWS.  



Navigational Territory Matters


Where you travel with your boat can impact whether you’re protected by your boat insurance policy. Navigational territory refers to the geographical boundaries within which your boat is covered by your policy. If you stray outside those boundaries, you could be entirely responsible for damages or injuries occurring there. If a navigational territory is listed in your policy and you wish to travel outside it, ask your insurance agent for an endorsement to extend your coverage for the trip.


Do You Have a Hurricane Plan?


Most insurers will require you show proof of a hurricane plan for your boat. This is a document indicating the steps you will take to protect your vessel before, during, and after a named storm is on the way. For example, it should detail which components/gear will be tied down, removed, topped up, and/or tested and within what time frame in preparation for a storm. It should also include how you plan to secure and store your boat – and whether it will be kept at a dock, marina, in dry storage, or other safe haven you identify.


Factors Affecting Your Insurance Costs


Given Florida’s susceptibility to hurricanes and tropical storms, insuring property – especially boats and personal watercraft like Jet Skis – tends to be more expensive than elsewhere in the country. Even so, with the right help, you can find affordable coverage, including discounts where appropriate.


Factors affecting the cost of watercraft insurance include:


  • Vessel type, model, size, age, and number of engines and their horsepower
  • Current value
  • Where and how you store it
  • How often the vessel is used and what it’s used for
  • Your driving record (both on land and at sea)
  • Types of coverages you opt for and the limits for each
  • Your navigational territory
  • Deductible amounts


A little strategic planning involving your deductibles can help as well. By increasing your deductibles, you can lower your annual premium cost. This is true for all types of insurance, including home, auto, boat, and Jet Ski insurance.


You could also save money with possible discounts from:


  • Bundling – Buying your watercraft insurance with an insurer you already use for your home or auto coverage.
  • Boater safety courses
  • A monitored security system
  • Lay-up periods – When you don’t use the vessel for a certain amount of time, such as Florida snowbirds who keep their Florida vessel stored during the summer/fall when they’re not in the state.


Great Deals on Florida Boat Insurance!


If you own a boat or other type of watercraft, you’ll want to make sure it’s adequately protected. At The Windward Insurance Agency, we’ve been helping Floridians insure what matters most to them since 2006. Ask any of our friendly, helpful, and accessible team members what you need – and we’ll help you get the very best coverage at the very best price. For more information about your boat insurance options, get a quote now or call us at (866) 231-2433.