If you own or are thinking about purchasing a boat, there’s one thing you need to understand above all else: boat insurance is a necessity. No matter what kind of boat you own, there is always a chance that it could be damaged or lost at some point, so it’s important to ensure that your investment and your lifestyle are protected.
We’re not going to sugarcoat it—boat insurance is expensive. But that doesn’t mean you should skimp out and try to save a few bucks on coverage. With insurance, as with many things in life, you typically get what you pay for, and because watercraft damage can be unpredictable and pervasive, it pays off to spend a little more on your policy and know that you have comprehensive coverage for all possible dangers. That way, if your boat does come into harm’s way, it’ll get taken care of quickly and effectively, with less hassle and frustration from all parties involved.
Fortunately, you don’t have to end up in deep water. Here’s everything you need to know about boat insurance basics before heading out this summer.
What is Boat Insurance and What Does It Cover?
Just like having automotive insurance covers many aspects of owning and operating a car, boat insurance is similar for all types of watercraft. While many states don’t require insurance policies to be held for personal watercraft (although many marinas do), boat owners should always ensure that they have coverage for whatever may come their way. Fortunately, most insurance policies are comprehensive, and cover some or all of the following:
- Storm Damage
- Liability (damage to other boats or structures)
How Do I Choose a Policy?
The key to choosing a policy is to first look at your budget and determine how much coverage you can afford. In some cases, insuring your boat may be a part of a larger insurance package that also includes auto, homeowner’s or renter’s and life insurance policies.
In general, a boat insurance policy should cover three things: property damage, medical payments and collision/collision liability. To fully understand the risk and options available to you, you may want to sit down with an insurance agent to discuss your own circumstances, needs and considerations. Then, they will be able to review your needs carefully before coming up with an actionable plan that fits your lifestyle.
10 Things to Consider (along with Your Insurance Agent)
There are a number of things to consider when purchasing boat insurance (or simply before purchasing the boat itself!) When you sit down with your insurance agent, make sure to talk through the following items so you can make sure you are fully covered.
1. Am I already insured?
Because some policies will cover watercraft as part of a larger policy, check with your current insurance provider if there is any chance that you are already covered under your general home/auto policy, or if it would be better to consider stand-alone coverage.
2. Do I have enough liability protection in case someone gets hurt while using my boat?
Most states require boaters to carry at least $100,000 in liability protection—but some require more than double that amount! In addition, if you are renting a slip at a marina or have a membership there, there may be additional (read: higher) requirements for liability insurance. Make sure you not only understand the thresholds you need to maintain, but have insurance that covers you for the full amount.
3. How much will it cost to replace my boat if something happens?
It’s always better to over-insure than under-insure, but knowing how much your vessel is worth makes a big difference in calculating how much you should spend on protecting it. Fortunately, it’s not hard to determine the value, and an insurance agent can help you along the way.
4. How long am I covered for?
Just like car insurance, boat insurance policies typically last anywhere from six months to one year. To guarantee you always stay covered, make sure your policy will auto-renew so you don’t have a lapse in coverage.
5. What deductibles are involved?
Deductibles are just like those found on auto policies; higher deductibles mean lower premiums. Compare policy options alongside your agent to ensure that you’re balancing these two costs against each other, and won’t end up in a bind if something happens.
As you hit the water this summer—whether it’s at the local lakes or the open sea, make sure you’re covered along the way. We at Penny Insurance are always here to help you navigate the sometimes complex world of insurance coverage. If you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know.
If you’ve been following along on our blog, you know we’ve kicked off the summer with a series on the various steps you need to take to get your boat prepped and ready for the water. We’ve partnered with Chubb Insurance to bring you the tips you need for the best first voyage of your watercraft. Here is the third and final installment in our Coming Out of Lay-up series to help you get your boat in ship shape:
Once the boat is on her mooring or in her slip, check everything before you depart on your first cruise. Start on the foredeck and work your way aft before going below.
Anchors and Mooring Lines
Be sure the anchor and rode are secured properly and ready to use. The “bitter end” of the anchor line must be attached to a strong point inside the boat. All shackle pins must be secured with seizing wire. Replace any mooring lines, fenders and life ring lines that are suffering from chafe or sunlight damage.
If you see cracks in vinyl wire covers, or rust or cracks at end fittings, replace the wire. Be sure pulpits, stanchions and ladders are secure and in good repair, and all setscrews are tight.
Rig Deck Canvas and Check for Leaks
Set up and inspect all of the canvas. Make sure all windows, portlights and hatches are secured, and give the boat a thorough washing. As soon as you’re done, go below and look for leaks.
Don’t forget to look at chainplates on sailboats and make a note of any leaks you find so that they may be repaired.
Check Your Shore Power
Before you plug into shore power, inspect the ends of the cord and the receptacle that’s mounted on the boat for any signs of heat damage.
Plug the boat in, turn on the battery charger and be sure the voltage rises in the batteries. Be sure battery water levels are correct. After dark, make sure the running and anchor lights work.
Engines and Generator Check
Start engines and generators, warm them up thoroughly and change the oil and filters.
While you’re warming up the engines, check the battery voltage. If alternators are working properly, a 12-volt system will charge at close to 14 volts. Also, while engines are running, inspect fuel, cooling and exhaust systems for leaks and correct any leaks you find, no matter how minor.
Check engine mounts and make sure all locknuts are tight. Since you checked the prop and shaft condition prior to launch, any vibration you notice while under way may mean an engine needs aligning. Alignment can’t be checked when the boat is hauled out; the hull will change shape slightly when it’s in the water. It takes experience and special tools to move engines into proper alignment, so this may be a job for your mechanic.
Water Tanks and Heater
If the domestic water and waste systems were winterized, they will need draining and flushing, and any fittings that were disconnected will need to be secured. When the tanks are full, and the system is pressurized, check all the fittings for leaks.
If you have a propane system, open the valve on the tank, turn on the remote solenoid switch if there is one, and light a burner on the stove. Note the reading on the pressure gauge and close the valve on the tank. Wait 10 minutes and look at the gauge again. If there’s any change in the reading, there’s a leak somewhere. Use soapy water to find the leak; never use a flame.
A summer spent out on the water is a summer well spent! We hope this series on boating helps you to navigate the ins and outs of marine craft preparation so that you can enjoy the rest of your summer on your vessel. Contact a Penny Insurance Agent today to discuss your marine recreation protection options. Be safe out on the water and enjoy the waves!
As we welcome summer, it is time to continue preparing your vessel for the water. We
partnered with Chubb Insurance to ensure your boat is in tip-top shape for a successful launch
so that you can experience a safe and enjoyable boating season. Below you will find the second
section of our three-part series on how to properly prep your boat during the launch.
Warmer weather leads to very busy boatyards, often launching several boats an hour. Yard
employees may not take the time to properly check for leaks after the boat goes in the water.
You, or someone else who knows the boat, should be there when she is launched to ensure the
following prep occurs:
Check for Leaks
As soon as the boat is in the water, get below with a bright light and check for leaks. Remember
to check prop shaft and rudder stuffing boxes.
If your sailboat’s mast was removed for winter storage, the yard will usually step it when the
boat is in the water. It’s easy to get the rig ready for sailing if you remembered to measure the
turnbuckles and to inspect all the standing and running rigging last fall. Be sure all turnbuckles
are secured with cotter pins once the rig has been tuned.
Start the Engine
Before you start an engine, be sure the seawater intake seacock is open. As soon as the engine
is running, check for exhaust water flow.
As you move the boat to her mooring, watch the temperature gauge to make sure the engine’s
cooling system is working properly. If an engine won’t start right away, don’t crank it for very
long; water can collect in the muffler and drown the engine.
Now that you’ve done your boat-keeping chores, you can spend a relaxing season enjoying your
boat. Keeping a few tips in mind can help throughout the season and as you prepare for lay-up
later in the year.
• Check the lifejackets, flares and first aid kit to make sure you and your boating companions
will be safe while onboard your vessel. Be sure the horn, running lights, anchor light and
searchlight work properly.
• Check the fire extinguishers and have them serviced or replaced as needed and change the
batteries in the smoke and CO detectors and EPIRB if you have one.
• Make certain the boat’s registration or documentation is current and that all the required
papers are onboard.
• Start a “punch list” of things that will need attention before the end of the season.
• Inventory all equipment, personal items and outfitting onboard and update it during the
• Replace anything that’s missing, damaged or out of date.
We want you to have fun on the water, just as much as we want you and your co-captains to be
safe this summer! Be sure to complete this thorough checklist during the launch of your boat so
that you and those aboard your boat are safe while truly enjoying your time out on the water.
Contact a Penny Insurance Agent today to discuss your marine recreation protection options
and be on the lookout for the final addition to our three-part boating series.
Have a great summer of safe boating!
Important Recommendations for Boating Season
Summer is upon us which means it’s time to prepare for boating season! If your boat was in lay-up over the winter, you’ll need to take care of a few things before it’s ready to go. Penny Insurance Agency partnered with Chubb Recreational Marine Insurance, to help you make sure your vessel is ready for a successful launch and you can enjoy a safe and relaxing season. Check out the first section of our three-part series below!
As a boat owner, you’re responsible for knowing the condition of your boat and its equipment.
Bringing a vessel out of lay-up gives you a great opportunity to perform a thorough inspection before boating season begins. Before you launch your boat, be sure to review manuals, instruction sheets and other documents for details about the vessel and onboard systems, proper operation and maintenance, as well as contact information for manufacturers and suppliers in case you have questions or need parts.
Before the Launch
Outside the Boat
Rule number one: While working on the hull, always let the yard employees move stands and blocking. If you’re using a ladder to get onboard, don’t forget to secure the top of the ladder to a stanchion, or a cleat on deck.
Inspect the Bottom
- Check all through-hull fittings and scrape inside their openings.
- Be sure all seawater intakes are clear of obstructions.
Through-Hulls and Zincs
- Check all the through-hulls above the waterline.
- Replace any questionable through-hulls with marine-grade bronze or fiber-reinforced plastic.
- Remove any sacrificial zinc anodes prior to painting.
- Install fresh zinc anodes if the old ones are half depleted.
Transducers and Running Gear
- Inspect underwater transducers for depth sounders, fish finders and knot meters.
- Clean and free the faces of depth transducers of marine growth.
- Check propellers for damage and straightness.
- Put a light coat of waterproof grease on the shaft taper and key when installing the serviced prop.
- Check shaft bearings for wear.
- Check the rudders by trying to move the bottom of the rudder from side to side, and up and down.
- Inspect swim step supports, trim tabs, thruster grates and boarding ladders.
- Be sure the ladder deploys properly if it telescopes and is mounted under the swim step
- Inspect the outdrives’ flexible rubber bellows carefully.
- Run your finger along the edge of the skeg at the very bottom of the drive and if you find any oil, a seal may need to be replaced.
- Change the oil in the drive.
Inside the Boat
- Make sure all seacocks operate smoothly and their handles are in good condition.
- Clean and brighten the through-hulls and bonding wire connections.
- Check the bonding connection to the sacrificial zinc.
- Inspect seawater intake strainers on engines, generators, air conditioner pumps and any other equipment that requires them.
- Make certain drain plugs are secure and that gaskets and washers are in good shape.
- Inspect the seawater intake systems’ vented loop.
Hoses and Clamps
- Inspect the hose clamps and the hoses attached to all the seacocks and through-hulls.
- Examine all stuffing box hoses, exhaust hoses and fill hoses from the decks to the tanks.
- Replace any soft hoses that show signs of bulging, cracking or damage.
Engines and Generators
- Check and replace your engine and generators’ sacrificial zinc anodes, if necessary.
- Check all the V-belts on the engines.
- Pull out the knotmeter transducer and inspect the O-rings.
- Apply a light coat of waterproof grease to the O-rings and be sure the transducer tube is clean before re-inserting the transducer.
- Put the water-lift exhaust muffler on a generate or sailboat engine’s drain plug back in place.
- Inspect all mufflers for signs of rust or peeling paint.
- Operate the steering gear lock-to-lock.
- Clean your batteries’ terminals and cable clamps before you connect them.
Completing this thorough check list before launching your boat for the summer will give you and those aboard peace of mind and allow you to truly enjoy your time out on the water. Contact a Penny Insurance Agent today to discuss your marine recreation protection options.