Nothing says summer quite like hitting the open water in a shiny new boat. But before you set sail, make sure you and your investment are protected with the right coverage.
Why you should get boat insurance
Boat insurance protects against liability and accidental damage to the boat, but also things you might not think about, such as the cost of replacing your newer boat with a brand new model, fuel spill liability, salvage coverage and wreck removal. Additional coverage can be purchased to protect your personal property, such as fishing gear and watersports equipment, as well as to provide towing options for both on and off the water and while trailering your boat.
Insurance is available for a wide variety of vessels, from bow riders, center consoles and pontoons, to personal watercrafts (PWCs) such as Jet Skis, WaveRunners and Sea-Doos. Current GEICO auto policyholders, boaters with good driving records and those who have passed boating-safety courses, could be eligible for discounts.
New boaters should bear in mind that some boat insurance policies require you to operate your boat within a specified geographic area. If you plan on taking your boat outside this area, there are options to extend your coverage.
Trailering your boat
It’s important to understand what is and isn’t covered by your boat insurance when you’re towing your boat to the water. Boat insurance will cover physical damage to your boat trailer, but there is no liability coverage.
“The liability of towing a trailer is never covered by boat insurance,” says Mike Pellerin, vice president of underwriting at BoatU.S. “That’s always covered under auto insurance. So if you back your trailer into another vehicle or cause damage to others’ property, the liability is usually tied to your automobile.”
Pellerin further advises boaters to confirm their auto insurance provides coverage for towing a trailer before they attempt to transport a boat on the road. The purchase of additional coverage may be required.
Trailering laws vary from state to state, but BoatU.S. has an easy-to-navigate map that explains the different laws in each part of the country.
Premium towing coverage
GEICO’s boat insurance program offers Premium Towing coverage, which can be used for breakdowns on the water or for roadside assistance. The roadside assistance is especially helpful, as many auto insurance policies do not provide coverage for towing the boat when the vehicle breaks down.
“There’s nothing worse than seeing a boat on the side of the road, unattached, because roadside assistance picked up your vehicle and towed it away, but didn’t have the capability to take your boat,” says Pellerin. “We have identified service providers around the country who have the capability to get your boat, trailer and vehicle off the road.”
This Premium Towing roadside assistance service can be used in the event of flat tires, vehicular breakdowns or even if you lock your keys in your truck. It’s also available in the event of a mishap at a boat ramp.
“We’ve seen people back down too far, beyond the end of the ramp, and they are unable to pull their boat back out,” says Pellerin. “You don’t even need to be roadside to still need assistance—you can be at the ramp and use this service to have your rig and trailer pulled out.”
To avoid any setbacks on the road, Pellerin advises boaters to confirm that their vehicle’s tow rating is more than enough to carry their boat. And pay attention to normal maintenance by greasing the wheel bearings and lug nuts on the trailer, checking the tire pressure and ensuring the brakes and lights are working properly.
Before you hit the water this summer, be sure to visit geico.com, where you can learn more about the boat insurance policies available for a wide variety of watercraft and PWCs and get a free quote.
Looking for boat buying advice, boat tips and more? Visit boatus.com for everything you’ll need.