Whew. Boat insurance. What a topic!
It’s been tougher and more expensive to get boat insurance for the past several years, I know. We just got our renewal notice and our already-high premium for hull coverage went up by 23%! Ouch. It’s now over 5% of the value of our boat.
As I look at other options, I’m discovering that there are a lot of barriers to getting insurance these days:
- Boats over 20 years old have limited options
- Boats worth under $200K have somewhat reduced options; under $100K have few options
- Many companies will not insure liveaboards
- Liability-only insurance is being limited to smaller boats (under 30’)
- Hurricane-season restrictions are getting tighter and tighter; you may not have coverage in the event of a named storm
- Many insurance companies are requiring annual surveys
Further, I’m hearing that new boaters are having an almost impossible time getting insurance for cruising-size boats. It used to be that the insurance company would require new boaters to have a licensed captain aboard for a period of time, until the captain signed off that the new owners were competent to operate the boat on their own. Recently, I’ve heard from several people that they cannot even get that.
With Dave and I each having over 50 years of boat ownership and operation, with our only (small) claims being over 35 years ago, this is about the only point that is not troublesome for us.
Several lessons here:
- If you’re thinking of buying a boat, check on insurance availability before buying.
- If you are a few years out from getting a cruising boat and have not owned a boat before, I suggest buying a smaller boat now and using it as much as possible. You’ll gain time as a boat owner for when you do want to buy a larger boat, and you’ll gain so much experience on the water.
- Budget at least 5% of the boat’s value for hull coverage. To be on the safe side, I’d budget 6% and add 1% per year. I’d also add in the cost of a survey, generally $20-25 per foot of boat length in addition to hauling the boat.
I’ll admit, I was surprised by how much our premium would increase this year. But I was shocked to find out that I couldn’t switch to liability-only through GEICO since our boat was over 30 feet. Several other companies asked if the boat was our primary residence and when I said yes, they said they don’t write policies for full-time cruisers.
Hi Carolyn. We now live in MI after many years cruising the tropics. Our insurance jumps every year even though now our season is less than 6 months plus inside winter storage. Boat US told me all insurers are treated the same .if you boat in tidal waters or not, if your season is short. We all pay for those who boat in hurricane prone water and don’t take the time to properly secure their boats during storms,
Heather Gray says
What a topic is right!!! We currently have Progressive, but with our plans to sail more than 125mi off the US shore in to the Bahamas this winter (with no plans to return to US waters every 30 days) we’re desperately looking for a better solution! How annoying.
John Joeright says
Try getting insurance for doing charters. A 4-1/2 month season is over $7,900 this year. That’s a thousand over last year. Liability only is over $4,600.
Yes, we have a well kept 42 year old Morgan 461 with a glowing survey,, 30 years experience on three oceans, a 50-ton Masters license, five offshore passages between 3-4,300 nm in three oceans and dozens between 1,000 and 1,500 nm.
I shopped numerous brokers the past three years and could only find one Lloyd’s company to grant a policy and I have to make clients sign a liability waiver.
The good news is that we carry a personal policy that covers the surveyed value and $1 million in liability with State Farm that only costs about $650/yr.
Tough times for the little guy in the charter business. I’m told that massive claims from named storms is since 2019 have ruined the risk models.
Thanks for this article Carolyn.