Before you go out and buy your first pontoon boat, you need to think about your insurance options. As with most things finance related, you shouldn’t make any decisions regarding boat insurance without first doing proper research.
So, how much does pontoon boat insurance cost?
If you’re reading this article with the expectations of getting a definitive answer to this question then I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. Like most other things money-related, insurance is a complex industry. There are a lot of factors that go into determining how much you’ll pay to insure your pontoon boat. Adjusters consider a number of things before quoting you, like your boat’s value, state and municipal laws, and your other insurance policies.
In this post, I’ll explain more about boating insurance and clear up some common misconceptions.
Is Boating Insurance Required?
It depends. Contacting an official at your state’s DMV and simply asking, “do you have to have boat insurance” is your best bet. As of February 2017, only Arkansas and Utah have legislation covering boat insurance, and even then it’s complicated.
If you live in Arkansas and have a watercraft that has more than 50hp, you’re required to cover it with liability insurance. Additionally, the policy must cover a minimum of $50,000 worth of damage.
Laws covering boat insurance in Utah are a bit stricter than Arkansas. Boat insurance policies are required to have the following minimum coverage limits:
- $15,000 covering property damage.
- $25,000 covering bodily injury for one person.
- $50,000 for total bodily injury if more than one person is hurt.
Remember that laws are subject to change. Before you take your boat on the water, check to see that your pontoon boat meets your state’s insurance requirements.
Additionally, if you took out a loan to purchase your pontoon boat, you might be required to insure it. Most lending institutions expect the property to be insured until the loan is paid off. Furthermore, some parks and marinas also require boats that boats used on their waterways are insured.
Do I Need Boat Insurance?
While that ultimately depends on you, insuring your boat is a good idea. Disaster can strike at a moment’s notice, so why not be prepared for it? No matter how safe you are, you’ll never be able to fully protect yourself from accidents. Pontoon boats are expensive, and knowing that yours is protected from damage outside of your control will give you peace of mind.
Don’t expect to be covered by your homeowners policy
The notion that homeowners insurance covers boats is one of the biggest misconceptions that new pontooners make. It’s never a good idea to assume that anything is covered by insurance, so take the time to carefully read your policy. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for a bad day in the event that your pontoon gets damaged.
Part of the reason that people have this misunderstanding about homeowners insurance is because some policies do cover boats. However, these boats small, usually without an engine, and inexpensive. Your pontoon, which is probably worth anywhere between $15,000 and $45,000, will not be covered by homeowners insurance in any circumstances.
Why Boat Insurance Is Important
Do you want to spend your time out on the water worrying about accidents? Insuring your pontoon will help you relax and better enjoy your time outdoors. Here are two reasons why boat insurance is good to have:
Your pontoon is easy to steal
You might think that trailer lock is keeping your boat safe in your yard, but it’s actually not. A determined thief with a pickup truck can break that lock off and drive away with your boat. Instead of gambling on the police recovering your boat, wouldn’t you rather be protected under your insurance policy?
If you’re concerned about your pontoon being stolen, contact your insurance agent today and ask if you’re covered.
Regardless of what you think, injuries can happen
Just because you’re a cautious boater who obeys all of the safety regulations doesn’t mean that you won’t cause an accident. We can take all the steps in the world to avoid collisions, it still doesn’t make us impervious to the random freak accident.
Boating accidents are serious, much more so than a fender bender on the road. Making one mistake, like towing a tuber too fast or hitting a jet skier, can seriously injure or even kill someone. For this reason, you want to have a good insurance policy that protects you and your boat.
A comprehensive policy will cover your pontoon as well as injuries to yourself and others. If this isn’t something you’re interested in, you should get a liability plan at the very least. This way, you’re protected in the event that you cause an accident that hurts someone else. You don’t want to be stuck with hospital bills and expensive legal fees because you were uninsured and injured someone.
What Does Boat Insurance Cover?
The answer to this question depends largely on what you want out of your insurance plan. Be sure to contact your insurance agent if you have any questions. They’ll be happy to help you find a policy that covers all of your needs. What you shouldn’t do, however, is assume that your pontoon boat is always covered without contacting your agent first.
Here are some things to consider when finalizing your insurance policy:
1. Liability doesn’t do anything for you
The reason that liability policies are cheap is because they don’t insure your boat or yourself. Liability policies exist to protect you from legal issues that come from collisions. If you cause an accident that hurts someone or damages their property, this policy will pay their medical and property repair bills so you don’t have to cough up the money. After wrecking your pontoon boat, the last thing you’ll want to do is pay court fees and damages.
2. Is your boat insured when it’s out of the water?
This is a gray area for a lot of insurance policies, which is precisely why you need to ask your agent questions. Some policies may only insure your pontoon boat when it’s being driven on the water. What does that mean for the rest of the time, like when your boat’s at home or being trailered?
- Boats damaged while being trailered are typically expected to be covered by an automobile policy. Whether you’re actually protected or not will depend on your automobile insurance.
- If your boat insurance doesn’t protect it when it’s sitting in your yard, your homeowners might. But don’t expect full coverage that reimburses you for vandalism and stolen contents.
Even though this sounds very complicated, it doesn’t have to be. Contact your agent and ask for an umbrella policy that will keep your boat protected from all types of calamities.
3. What about protection from storms?
Again, ask your agent. Some policies charge extra and will have someone collect your boat and transport it further inland if a dangerous storm approaches.
Additional coverage information
Here are the most common types of coverage included on boat insurance policies:
- Collision damage – your boat will be repaired or replaced in the event of an accident. Some plans also include wreckage cleanup.
- Property damage liability – your policy covers damage you cause to another person’s property.
- Bodily injury liability – your policy covers medical expenses and damages that come as a result of injuring someone else.
- Comprehensive coverage – your boat is protected against theft, vandalism, and damages outside of the water.
- Additional coverage – various options that cover things like stolen equipment, protection from underinsured boaters, and roadside assistance.
Also, it’s important to know that your boat won’t be insured everywhere. Granted you won’t be taking your pontoon out on the ocean, you need to make sure you’re covered if you take it on a trip to Canada.
How Much Is Boat Insurance per Month?
The amount you pay per month for boat insurance depends on how valuable your boat is, what insurance plan you choose, and a number of other factors. A basic liability plan can cost you as little as a $100 every year, while a comprehensive plan for a mid-range pontoon can cost as much as $45 a month.
If insuring your pontoon sounds a bit pricey, don’t worry. Here are some ways you can reduce the monthly payment:
- Find a policy that suits your needs, and don’t pay extra for things you won’t use.
- Maximizing your boat’s safety features can reduce your monthly payment.
- Complete a boating safety course and show your agent the certificate.
- If your pontoon isn’t getting a lot of use, lengthen the lay-up period.
When you show your insurance agent that you’re serious about boat safety, you could end up getting a discount of 5% or more.
The Last Word on Boat Insurance
You may not think boat insurance is a justifiable expense, but you’ll glad you have it if there comes a time when you use it.
There are a number of insurance providers out there who specialize in insuring boats and other watercraft, as well as big name companies like State Farm, Allstate, Geico, and Progressive. If you want to learn more, call your insurance agent today and ask them, “how much does pontoon boat insurance cost?”