Does My Boat Insurance Policy Cover Those Who Borrow My Boat?

This blog was originally published on May 24, 2015. It was updated and re-published on August 9, 2018.

In 2017, the United States Coast Guard counted 4,291 recreational boating accidents that resulted in 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries and $46 million in property damage, according to a 2017 USCG boating survey. Ordinarily, having boat insurance should be enough to ensure that you’ll be covered if one of these accidents were to happen to your boat. 

However, if your friend or extended family member happens to be behind the wheel of your boat in an accident, then you’re actually not going to be covered. Boat-borrowing is a simple concept that becomes a tricky situation that a standard policy just doesn’t cover.

Buying and purchasing insurance for a boat is similar to an automobile, but there are some key differences. But all in all, the first priority is safety. You’re going to want standard liability coverage as well as an umbrella policy to tie in all the loose ends. If you’re letting someone borrow your boat, make sure all of the bases are protected. Here’s how to make sure your boat has the proper coverage:

Standard Liability Coverage

A basic liability policy is necessary for a boat. Unlike auto insurance, having a boat insurance policy is not required in any state, but it’s definitely a good idea to have. It’ll keep you covered from physical damage against your boat, passengers and specific items on board. On top of that, the policy will also cover if there’s damage to another boat, pier or dock. And although you might have to pay a higher premium, your standard policy (which can range from $100,000 to $1,000,000) can also cover you in the event of fire, theft or bad weather.

However, it’s important to remember that this policy will not cover you if someone borrows your boat, however. This feature is identical to an auto policy. This means that you’ll be liable in court for any damages caused by someone other than you operating your boat.

Umbrella Policies

Just like the name suggests, an umbrella policy will cover both you, your friends and extended family members who might borrow your boat. This policy will cover you if you happen to lend your boat out, providing temporary boat insurance coverage to individuals who may not be on your policy. It’s a critical policy to attach to your standard liability coverage—it fills in the gaps left and is not confined to just you, making it the most salient feature of the policy.

This policy can also include ATV’s, boat trailers and other recreational vehicles. If you have multiple vessels, than an umbrella policy is for you.

The Cost of Umbrella Coverage

While umbrella coverage can be costly, it’s still less expensive in the long run, once adding in your extra policies and the overall cost of boat insurance. Some states have a minimum required sum of not less than $5 million, and the max can be as high as $500 million for those who have exceptionally expensive vessels. So if you buy $5 million of umbrella coverage, you’re going to be adding another $400 a month to your premium. The cost goes higher when you want more coverage.

About Mariners Insurance

Mariners General Insurance Group was founded in 1959 to protect boat owners and marine business clients. We are marine insurance experts and insure boats worldwide – in every ocean on the planet. Marine insurance is critical if you own a boat or nautical business. Trust the professionals with all of your Boat Insurance needs – trust Mariners Insurance. Call us at (800) 992-4443 any time you have questions or concerns about insurance for your vessel or marine business.

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