Boat Insurance 101
Is boat insurance required in Canada? How much does marine insurance cost? BOATsmart! Assure answers the most frequently asked questions about recreational boat insurance.
If you're reading this, then there's a pretty good chance that you're spending some time out on a boat. Those early mornings out on the lake. A cruise down to the marina for ice cream, or a late afternoon wakeboard session. It's about your time on the water. For many boating families, that 21 ft runabout is more than just a boat. It's the centre of activity at the lake. It's a good time ambassador... and a faithful family friend.
So it's a bit painful to admit that whether you own a boat in Nova Scotia, British Columbia or anywhere in-between, you and your boat can be at risk by factors that are out of your control. Weather hazards, an unexpected collision at a tight docking space, or that submerged rock (that wasn't there last year was it??) can cause unexpected damage or worse yet, injury. That's why boat insurance, or marine speciality insurance, is protection that all boat owners should have in place. It's the only way you can truly rest easy know in your family is covered-and that the lifestyle invesmentment you've got tied to your dock is going to keep bringing you enjoyment for years to come.
Do I need boat insurance?
There is no legal obligation to insure your recreational boat or watercraft in Canada. However, if you plan to finance the purchase of a new or used boat your lender will request insurance coverage. And moreover, the right marine insurance policy can provide peace of mind and help you boat with confidence-knowing that you, your family and your passengers are protected with liability and personal injury coverage. Many good policies will also cover you for such things as emergency towing and trailering coverage.
What does it cost to ensure my boat?
The cost of boat insurance ranges widely depending on the type of coverages you require, your age and your claims history. The type and value of boat that you're insuring also affects what you will pay for an annual premium. So what's the right number? The average cottage or cabin runabout will cost you anywhere from $200 to $600 per year in annual premiums. The range depends on the type and amount of coverages.
You'll need to choose between agreed value and cash value. If your boat is insured for cash value, you will be paid out the « blue book » value of your boat when a loss occurs. If you've chosen agreed value, then you'll be paid an amount agreed to on your policy plan without any depcreciation applied. Agreed value policies typically cost a little more, but you're likely to be better compensated in the event of a loss.
What's the best boat insurance policy?
It all depends on how you use your boat. Trailering your boat to those favourite fishing spots? Heading out on the weekend with kids in tow? Are you regularly boating with passengers? How you use your boat should dictate what type of coverages you choose. For instance if you typically have family and friends on board, then choosing a policy with adequate liability coverage should be a primary consideration. If you're towing your boat then be sure to get a policy that covers both your boat and your trailer.
What about a boat specific policy versus just adding my boat to my home insurance?
This one is simple to answer: Don't rely on your homeowner's insurance. Most homeowners policies limit coverages in the event of damage and personal injury. You'll want to make sure that you and your family is fully covered and homeowner's policies can be negligeable in this respect.
A good marine specific policy will also get you out on the water more quickly. Certain boat insurance policies allow you to choose your own repair facility for those boaters who have developed a reliable relationship with their local marine dealer.
If I have my Pleasure Craft Operator Card and/or training can I get a discount on boat insurance?
Discounts are available from certain providers. One of the best we've found is from BOATsmart! Assure. BOATsmart! Assure offers a discount of up to 25% to boat owners that have obtained their Pleasure Craft Operator Card through BOATsmart!. Even if you took the exam with a different boat license provider, you can still save up to 25%. Simply download the free BOATsmart! CONNECT App (available for iPhone and Android) and you'll be enrolled at no charge as a BOATsmart! CONNECT Member and you'll be eligible for discounts. BOATsmart! Assure includes emergency towing coverage, vermin coverage and fast claims settlement. The program is underwritten by Lloyds of London.