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  • The Importance of Boat Insurance

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Morse Insurance wants to make sure you know the reasons you should secure boat insurance before you hit the water.

You’ve been waiting for this day all winter long. The weather forecast says clear skies, you’ve packed up the cooler and loaded the fishing gear, and you’ve checked and rechecked everything on your boat for safety. It certainly seems like you’re ready to cruise out of the marina and start exploring the Massachusetts coastline.

However, Morse Insurance wants to make sure you haven’t overlooked one of the most important steps to being prepared for boating season. Have you safeguarded your boat, passengers, and onboard possessions with the proper boat insurance?

Morse, of course, is here to help you determine your boat insurance needs and address three of the most common questions current and future boat owners have about this essential coverage.

Question #1: Why do I need boat insurance?

You may be aware that Massachusetts does not legally require boat owners to have insurance for their watercraft. So, you may be wondering, “Do I really need to buy boat insurance?” Whether you’re the proud captain of a motorboat, sailboat, pontoon, or another type of personal watercraft, the Morse team strongly recommends you consider getting this coverage for the following reasons.

  • A lender or dock owner may require it. Whether you’re getting financing for a new boat or you’re looking for a place to dock your watercraft this season, or both, it’s highly likely any lender or dock owner is going to require proof of boat coverage. Starting a conversation with your insurance professional today about the right boat policy should help you have the proper coverage and paperwork in place to share with a lender or dock owner.
  • It could be a costly mistake to be caught without it in the event of a boating accident. According to the most recent U.S. recreational boating statistics report, the United States averages over 4,000 recreational boating accidents, resulting in millions of dollars’ worth of damage to watercrafts each year. In addition, when a crash happens, belongings often end up going overboard and getting ruined or lost, leaving boat owners like you with the expense of replacing them. Worst of all, a boat accident can result in serious injuries, not just to the people and pets on your boat but also to others out on the water that day. Claims that arise out of these injuries can end up costing a boat owner hundreds of thousands of dollars if they don’t have boat insurance.
  • There are many other threats to your boat beyond a boating accident. Massachusetts boat owners need to protect themselves and their prized vessel against numerous other unexpected and destructive events, like a tree or other object falling on it, or a severe storm, theft, or fire ruining it. Whether your boat is out on the water, docked, in transit, or simply sitting in your yard for the off-season, there are many things that can cause substantial and costly damage. Thankfully, having the right boat insurance in place can help protect you financially against many of them.

You still may not be convinced that boat insurance is necessary, especially if you believe that your home insurance policy provides adequate coverage for your boat. While it is true that a standard homeowners policy sometimes does include protection for smaller boats, the Morse team believes you’re taking a big risk to assume that your policy will cover your boat without talking to your local insurance professional. For example, you may have a home insurance policy that only applies when you’re using your boat on a lake or river. If you were to get in a boating accident outside of these types of waterways, your home insurance could deny any related claims, leaving you responsible for the headaches and costs of a crash.

Question #2: What does boat insurance cover?

Whether your boat hits another watercraft, another boat’s wake, or a submerged rock, dock, or land, the collision can be violent, knocking passengers down or throwing them out of their seats or overboard. A boating accident is also likely to leave your vessel and other people’s property in bad shape. This is why it is smart to secure at least a basic boat insurance policy, which should provide you with the following coverage options.

  • Bodily Injury Liability. If you cause a boating accident that injures others, this is critical financial protection that should help you pay for other people’s medical expenses, as well as their lost income if they miss time at work while recovering. This coverage may also pay other expenses related to accident-related pain and suffering and legal expenses you may incur defending yourself against an injury claim.
  • Property Damage Liability. Having this coverage in place means you should get assistance paying to repair or replace another person’s boat or other property, like a waterfront dock you’ve hit and damaged. Property damage liability should also help you pay for pollution clean-up costs if your boat accidentally leaks fuel onto someone’s property.
  • Collision and Comprehensive. These two coverages are important because they can provide you with the funds you will need to repair your own boat, as well as your boat’s trailer and some accessories, if damaged. Collision coverage is activated if you’re in a boating accident with another watercraft or object, whereas comprehensive coverage comes into play if you experience a loss due to a fire, theft, vandalism, or severe weather.
  • Medical Payments. It’s not just a boat crash that can result in injuries to your passengers. Plenty of trip-and-fall accidents and other similar incidents can happen to passengers while on your boat or boarding and leaving it. Depending on your specific policy, medical payments coverage can help pay for medical, ambulance, and hospital costs, and more.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. You may be wise enough to purchase a boat insurance policy, but, unfortunately, other boaters may just roll the dice with either zero or very minimal boat insurance and hope for the best. If one of these uninsured/underinsured boat owners causes an accident that damages your vessel, then you’ll need the protection that uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage provides in order to repair or replace your boat.

Even though the standard boat insurance policy generally provides all this coverage, it can still leave boat owners with several critical gaps in protection. For this reason, you may want to enhance your boat insurance policy with additional coverage options, including:

  • Personal Effects Insurance
  • Fishing Equipment Coverage
  • Watercraft Equipment Coverage
  • Guest Passenger Liability
  • Roadside Assistance
  • On-Water Towing & Labor

We recommend that you speak with your local insurance professional to craft the policy that best suits your type of vessel and your budget.

Question #3: What factors may impact the cost of boat insurance?

While the primary cost factor for your boat insurance premium is the amount of coverage you select, the following five factors can also influence your policy rate.

  1. Deductible amount. While a higher deductible typically lowers your monthly boat insurance payment, it will increase the amount you’re responsible for if there is a claim.
  2. Type of boat. The make, model, and year will play a role in figuring the cost of your policy, as well as the condition of your watercraft.
  3. Where you boat and how often. If your boat doesn’t leave the comfort of your local lake, it’s likely you’ll pay less than a boater who sails to the islands with their watercraft.
  4. Your experience. Showing a commitment to education and safety, such as taking professional boating lessons and having Coast Guard-approved safety equipment on board, is often looked on favorably by insurance carriers.
  5. Your driving record. If you have a clean record as a boat owner, meaning no accidents or operating violations, then this should have a positive impact on your rates over time.

There are many other factors that could impact your boat insurance premium as well as discounts you might be eligible for. For example, by bundling your boat insurance policy with the same insurance carrier that services your home and car insurance, having additional fire extinguishers and radios on board, or taking safety courses offered by the Coast Guard, you might save hundreds of dollars on your policy. Your local insurance professional can assist you with finding competitive boat insurance rates and make sure you’re taking advantage of all available savings.

Morse, of course, is here to help you navigate boat insurance.

Morse Insurance understands the many joys and challenges of boating on the waters of Southeastern Massachusetts, because we’ve been out there enjoying them as well. As members of the community for over 70 years, we’ve definitely been caught fishing in local waters on a beautiful day.

But we’ve also been there when the calm turns into a storm. Our team has assisted numerous boat owners who have required help with a claim after experiencing an accident. It is in that moment that our boating clients are most grateful to have the financial protection a boat insurance policy provides.

The Morse team would like to help make sure that the proper boat insurance is in place to safeguard you, your passengers, and your watercraft from the many threats of boating. Please call us today at 508-238-0056 for a free quote on boat insurance or to review your current policy for any gaps. We are committed to finding the best boat insurance solutions at competitive rates to fit your unique boating lifestyle.