Boating enthusiasts know the thrill of feeling the wind on your face in the open water. In fact, over 87 million people in the U.S. enjoy the sport of recreational boating each year. If you spend a fair amount of your time on a boat—either recreationally or as a professional—you’ll want to make sure your property and liability concerns are properly protected through a boat insurance policy so you can cast off with peace of mind. Whether you sail for fun and want to bundle your boat with your other policies, or you’re a professional fisherman looking for coverage to ensure your livelihood, it’s important to find a provider and policy that meets your needs. Here are some of the top boat insurance policies available today.
The 8 Best Boat Insurance Providers of 2020
|Provider||Why We Picked It|
|Markel||Best for Professional Fishermen|
|Allstate||Best for Affordability|
|Progressive||Best for Safe Boat Drivers|
|Foremost||Best for Additional Coverage Options|
|Nationwide||Best for Policy Bundling|
|United Marine Underwriters||Best for Individualized Customer Service|
|State Farm||Best for Emergency Services Coverage|
|BoatUS||Best for Additional Benefits|
We teamed up with MediaAlpha to help you get quotes from the following insurers. Below the table, you'll find additional details on our list of the best boat insurance companies.
Best for Professional Fishermen: Markel
The Markel Corporation is a specialty insurance company that offers coverage for boats. They have an "A (Excellent)” rating from A.M. Best for financial strength and an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau. The company has been in business since 1930 and offers comprehensive boat insurance policies for personal watercraft, rental boats, and commercial boats. The professional fisherman policy provides replacement cost coverage for fishing equipment up to $5,000, and up to $1,000 for personal items. Several discounts are available including an accident-free discount, operator over age 40 discount, and an experienced boater discount for boaters who have five years or more of boating experience. If you happen to qualify for all of the discounts available through Markel, you could save up to 35% on your boat insurance premium. Extra features also come standard without having to pay an additional premium.
Best for Affordability: Allstate
Allstate is one of the biggest personal insurers in the United States, consistently drawing high financial strength and customer service ratings from a variety of rating institutions. Allstate advertises its boat insurance as being affordable for a variety of boat types and coverage options, with some policies available for as low as a $21 monthly premium. The company offers a variety of payment options to fit your financial situation, including an “easy pay plan” where you can save 5% by having your boat insurance premium automatically deducted from your checking account. Or, if you opt to pay in full, you can save 10% on your policy premium. If you already have other policies through Allstate, it makes sense to check into their boat insurance coverage since you can save up to 20% on your policy premium by combining it with a home policy.
Best for Safe Boat Drivers: Progressive
Progressive Insurance is well-known throughout the United States and has an excellent reputation for providing comprehensive coverage at competitive prices. Progressive’s boat insurance policy is an example of the type of affordable coverage the company provides. You can buy a boat policy for several types of personal watercraft vessels up to 50 feet long and up to $500,000 in value. There are several attractive discounts for boat owners, including a decreasing deductible: Your policy deductible will decrease for each policy period you remain accident-free.
Best for Additional Coverage Options: Foremost
Foremost is a part of the Farmers Insurance Group of Companies. It is a specialty insurance company that has been in business since 1928, and it's known for providing affordable coverage for boat insurance in all 50 U.S states. Foremost offers some unique coverage options for an additional premium, including hurricane haul-out, enhanced towing services, fishing tournament fee reimbursement, additional pollution liability coverage, pet coverage and trip interruption service. (The Elite policy provides the most comprehensive coverage.)
There are several discounts available through Foremost that are designed to save you money on your premium. This includes a lay-up discount, paid-in-full discount, boating safety course, protective device discount, multi-policy discount, multi-unit discount, loss-free renewal discount, prior insurance, insured age (discount if you are 55 or older), and affinity and alliance discounts for boat operators who are a part of an approved affinity group or alliance organization. Coverage is also available for classic boats over 25 years old.
Best for Policy Bundling: Nationwide
If you are already a Nationwide policyholder, then you may be eligible for the multi-policy discount offered through Nationwide Insurance, which gives you a discount for combining your home, boat, vehicle or life insurance policies. A few perks of this policy include optional towing and rental reimbursement coverage, as well as roadside assistance when you insure your boat trailer.
Several options are available for boat insurance with a variety of package options. You can get coverage for fishing equipment from $1,000 to $10,000, personal effects from $3,000 to $5,000 and towing coverage from $500 to $2,500. Other discounts include multi-boat, boater safety course, diesel fuel, paid-in-full discount, and a claims-free renewal discount that goes into effect for the policy renewal period if you have remained claims-free for the entire policy period. Nationwide also has a rewards program through a partnership with Plenti, which allows customers to earn points that can be applied as discounts at certain stores.
Best for Individualized Customer Service: United Marine Underwriters
As it emphasizes on its website, United Marine Underwriters is a specialty insurance company that writes insurance for “just boats.” It has been in business for over 28 years and provides boat insurance in all U.S. states except New Mexico. Boat insurance navigation is also available to Canada, the Bahamas, and Mexico. Liability limits are available up to $1,000,000, with discounts available for completing one of several boating safety courses approved by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Power Squadron and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, and others, according to its website.
One of the more unique things about United Marine Underwriters is its policy service. When you purchase a boat insurance policy through United Marine Underwriters, you are assigned a primary service person who takes care of all of your servicing needs. This company really cares about its customer service.
Best for Emergency Services Coverage: State Farm
State Farm is one of the best-known names in insurance in the United States. They offer boat insurance liability and property damage with add-on coverage options (for an additional premium) including newly acquired watercraft, reasonable repairs, emergency service, and wreck removal. State Farm has resources available for boat owners including articles on boat trailer safety tips, boat safety, and water safety. Boat insurance is available for a multitude of watercraft: runabout/sport boats, cruisers/yachts, sailboats, bass boats, jet skis, houseboats, and kayak/canoes.
State Farm offers emergency services coverage that pays up to specific amounts of reasonable costs for your boat, a boat trailer, or your boat motor. You can add additional coverage for wreck-removal coverage, and have the option to have “new boat” coverage to cover your newly-acquired watercraft until you are able to add it to your insurance policy.
Best for Additional Benefits: BoatUS
BoatUS offers boat insurance through the Boat Owners Association of the United States and was acquired by GEICO in 2015. The company has been in business for more than 50 years, resulting in a mix of online reviews that skew both positive and negative. But a great majority are positive, especially in the area of claims service. BoatUS offers boat policies for many different types of personal watercraft and yachts. For members, there are added benefits including discounts on popular boating and fishing businesses, hotels, car rental companies, cruises and charters. The basic membership fee is relatively inexpensive at $24/year and goes up to an unlimited gold membership for $151 that comes with perks like "100% payment for offshore, restricted dock and from a home dock or mooring to a repair facility."
What Is Boat Insurance?
Boat insurance is a contract between you and an insurance carrier that protects you from financial loss in the event of a boating accident or natural disaster that damages your boat. Boat insurance for larger vessels typically has restrictions as to what it will cover and where in the world the coverage applies. Boat insurance is for vessels that have a motor and is not for canoes or small paddle boats.
How Does Boat Insurance Work?
Boat insurance works similar to car insurance, but it covers the financial loss of large boats instead of automobiles. You generally pay a set monthly fee for coverage on your boat, and in exchange can place claims against financial loss or damage for things related to your boat. When the claim is received by the insurance provider, they will investigate to determine the fault of any accident, what the damage costs are, and how much should be covered. Once that is complete, the insurance carrier will send you a check for the amount of coverage you are entitled to for whatever claim you submitted.
How Much Does Boat Insurance Cost?
Boat insurance costs vary greatly based on the type of boat you’re insuring, the size of the boat, what you plan on doing with the boat, and how much coverage you need. The general accepted estimate on insurance costs for all motored boats is that you’ll end up paying between 1% and 2% of the value of your boat per year, broken up into equal monthly installments.
What Does Boat Insurance Typically Cover?
Boat insurance coverage will depend on what type of boat you have, what insurance provider you use, and what coverage you’re willing to pay for. General boat insurance typically covers physical damage to your boat, as long as none of the restrictions of the policy were violated, and liability coverage for damage to other property caused by you while operating your boat. You can add additional coverage types, such as medical payment for injuries you sustain while on the boat.
What Does Boat Insurance Typically Not Cover?
What a boat insurance policy does not cover in relation to a boat is generally called an exclusion. These exclusions almost always include:
- Wear and tear of the boat
- Damage done by marine life such as sharks
- Faulty machinery such as an engine going out
- Infestations with bugs or rodents
- Accessories that break
- Damage caused by the incorrect storage of your vessel during offseason
- Damage caused when an unnamed operator is using the boat
- Damage caused during a boat race
Many policies for yachts or large sailing vessels also exclude certain geographic regions during certain times of the year. They won’t, for example, cover damage during hurricane season in parts of the Caribbean.
How We Chose the Best Boat Insurance Providers
We looked at more than a dozen of the best boat insurance providers nationwide and chose the top eight providers based on a number of factors. These factors included the cost of coverage, the types of boat coverage each offers, the types of boats each provider specializes in covering, what current customers had to say about these providers, and the overall company experience and reputation for covering boats.