How To Insure A Boat In BC

How To Insure A Boat In BC

Whether you’re becoming a first-time boat owner or have been relying on your homeowner’s insurance to cover a vessel you already have, it’s time to consider getting separate boat insurance. Here’s an easy-to-follow guide on how to insure a boat in BC, ensuring you can sail smoothly and with an absolute peace of mind. 

Do You Need to Insure Your Boat in BC?

Legally speaking, no, you don’t have to have boat insurance to operate a boat in BC. That being said, you’ll probably still want to get it. Homeowners’ insurance won’t adequately cover your vessel in case of an accident, and the amount of coverage you get can vary significantly. Without separate insurance for your boat, you could end up paying thousands of dollars out of pocket for repairs, injuries, medical bills, legal fees, and more. Furthermore, if you want to dock at a marina, they will likely require you to have boat insurance in the first place.

How Do I Get Boat Insurance? 

The insurer in question will need to know a few things about your vessel so that they can give you a quote. These include the following:

  • Vessel length, type, and value
  • Age and condition of vessel, as they can depreciate in value as the years go on
  • Boat usage frequency and use case (pleasure cruises, fishing, etc.)
  • Where and how the boat is stored
  • Where you sail (specific lakes, ocean coastlines, rivers, etc.)
  • Navigational experience and previous insurance history
  • Whether you’ve taken boating courses and/or sail competitively

What Kind of Insurance Do You Need for a Boat?

Boat policies have a variety of coverages built into them. Talk to your provider about what their standard policy will offer you. Some providers may offer additional coverages built into the price of their standard policy. With others, you may have to pay extra to get them. Here are the coverages you should expect to be provided with your boat, as well as some you should consider adding on. 

Collision Damage

Collision damage coverage will cover the repair or replacement of the boat, which can save you thousands of dollars. The one caveat is that you might not get towing services or salvage coverage. Those are often offered as separate insurance add-ons, which you should consider including in your package since the cost can otherwise be high.

Property Damage

This coverage is for when you’re an at-fault driver. If you hit another boat, a dock, or other property and cause damage, you’ll be insured for any damages caused as a result. Even if you’re a careful and considerate navigator on the water, accidents can still happen where you inadvertently are the one responsible for an incident. 

Injury Liability Coverage

As a boat owner, you are responsible for the safety of your passengers. That means if someone onboard is injured during the collision, you can be sued, especially if it is found that you were negligent. Injury liability coverage covers legal fees, the cost of medical bills, prescription drugs for injuries caused by the accident, and loss of income as a result of those injuries. 


Comprehensive Coverage

This is another kind of coverage that doesn’t necessarily come with your policy but that you should get either way, especially if you plan to leave your boat docked at a marina or at the cottage over the winter. It covers incidences of vandalism, theft, fire, and floods. Depending on your provider, it can even cover personal property of value like fishing gear and speakers. 

Coverage Value

There are two kinds of payouts if you make a claim: actual cash value and agreed value. With agreed value, you and your provider will decide how much your boat is worth when you sign the papers. That’s how much you’ll get if your vessel is damaged beyond repair. Talk to your provider about what exactly is covered by agreed value, especially since not all policies are created equal and some may cover more in terms of repair expenses than others. This is a great option for boat owners, largely since it consists of an easy application process and usually covers more than actual cash value. 

If you go with the actual cash value option, you’ll receive the value of the boat at the time of the crash. Boats naturally depreciate over time and are subject to wear and tear that comes with use, which is taken into consideration when the actual cash value is determined. Actual cash value approaches are generally more cost-effective than when choosing an agreed value. It also means an easier claims process, which will take some stress out of your life. 

How Much Does Insurance Cost?

The average cost of insuring a boat varies depending on the type of vessel in question, its length, and how you plan to use it, which is why your insurance provider will want that information upfront. Other factors that can affect the cost of your insurance are your experience and whether your boating license is in good standing, courses that you’ve taken, the horsepower of the boat itself, your gender and age, and your credit score. The overall value of your vessel comes into play as well. A non-powered boat like a canoe will cost much less to insure than a yacht, for instance. Alternatively, the average powerboat costs a few hundred dollars a year to insure, and the price varies based on the previously mentioned factors. 

Having a proper insurance policy in place is like keeping a life jacket on board; it’s there to keep you afloat (in this case, financially) when an accident happens. While it’s easy to feel adventurous and excited at the prospects of waterborne fun and exploration, you should take every precaution to ensure your own safety beforehand. At Portside Insurance, we don’t skim over the details. We’re dedicated to finding the best boat insurance policy for you. Contact us today for more information.

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9 Types of Boats You Should Consider Insuring

How Much Is Boat Insurance In Ontario

Interested in taking to the water this summer in Canada? We don’t blame you. Our team at Portside Marine Insurance is proud to offer a wide range of suitable policies, each refined to align with the needs and budgets of watercraft owners. That being said, boat varieties are a dime a dozen, and it can feel overwhelming in deciding which is ideal for you but also insurable. Today, to help you make a well-informed purchasing decision, let’s take a stroll down the promenade of common vessel types that are ideally suited to our marine insurance policies.

Aluminum Fishing Boats

Simple in design and functionality, aluminum fishing boats are small, single-motor vessels. Their straightforward construction and minimal number of features, although containing plenty of seating and open space, make them a great choice for casting lines from either the port or starboard side. The propulsion unit, usually a single propellor and diesel or gas combustion engine housed in an outboard motor, is stern-mounted and can be turned on a 180-degree axis to help steer the vessel without the use of oars (though those are also available in a pinch). If you have trailer boat insurance, it will cover your aluminum fishing boat in the event of an accident, theft, or damage.


Zippy, nimble and lightweight, Seadoo vessels are small pleasure watercraft designed for speed and maneuverability. Usually capable of having space for a driver and passenger, their steering system is not unlike a bicycle or motorcycle; port and starboard handles are affixed to the driver’s dashboard housing, which features a windshield to protect onboard electronics. This housing can rotate, steering the vessel, so there’s no outboard motor. If you’re considering owning one of these, wearing a lifejacket is just as important as with any other boating choice, and having small craft insurance – or better still, dedicated Seadoo insurance – is essential for hassle-free repairs and agreed value coverage.

Bass Boats

Do you have bass boat insurance and a vessel classified as such? If so, we’re a little envious! These are wonderful choices for coastal fishing and can operate with ease in shallow waters as little as two feet in depth. With comfortable seating and room for standing while remaining balanced, their open-concept, outboard motor design makes them easy to maneuver. Usually, the driver and one or two passengers have plenty of space from which to cast off, and other features including an aerated livewell for catches and plenty of engine horsepower means you can not only look after the fish you collect but get back to shore in a timely manner.


Beautiful and sleek, sailboats always draw attention from the shore with their majestic, towering form. These are wonderful boats for day trips, sightseeing, and even pleasure cruises stopping in multiple docks along coastal areas. Propelled by large, billowing sails in addition to emergency backup motors if the weather isn’t quite so cooperative, they usually include plenty of open deck and cabin space, the latter of which normally features sleeping accommodations and a bathroom. There’s also plenty of storage onboard, perfect for when travelling with children or multiple passengers. 

Charter Boats

It’s crucial that you have charter boat insurance if you plan on renting a vessel out to others, even if you have someone able-bodied and experienced at the helm. Charter vessels include everything from sightseeing pleasure craft to ocean-ready fishing trawlers and even personal yachts. They’re usually booked for a long-distance itinerary such as out to the middle of Lake Ontario for fishing or a pleasure cruise stopping at multiple destinations. Setting this itinerary is known as a charter, hence the term and subsequent important charter boat insurance policies. Should your vessel become damaged, stolen, or otherwise, your plan can cover repair costs or even reimbursement for loss of the boat in question.

Jet Boats

With their sleek, aerodynamic form and state-of-the-art jet motors – usually two of them – jet boats offer a thrilling and fun new way to take to Canada’s many waterways and lakes. However, they demand a highly experienced driver with lightning-quick reflexes, not to mention a sharp eye. Propulsion systems are contained inside the hull itself rather than hanging outboard, lending to their increased agility and therefore reducing drag while cruising at high speed. With plenty of seating and even sunning areas, they make a great choice for a day trip or pleasure cruise, but it’s crucial that you’re well aware of the conditions around you including depth, obstructions such as rocks, and boating laws. Having the right insurance is important with jet boats as their increased speed and power make them more prone to accidents and damage if the driver is inexperienced.


One of the most popular types of personal watercraft in Canada, particularly in Ontario where the local waterways and lakes are generally smoother, bowriders offer the perfect combination of form and function. Living up to the name, they feature ample seating inset into the bow of the vessel, and further aft the driver’s and rear passenger seating area are protected by a large surround windshield. On some bowriders, the middle panel is simply not included, meaning you’ll have a window in front of the driver and passenger seat only with a space in the middle for bow access. On others, a middle window is included with a latching mechanism, allowing you to cut off bow access on a windy or choppy day. By design, bowriders are well stabilized, able to accommodate standing and sitting passengers with relative ease, and there’s usually plenty of onboard storage.

Cuddy Cabins

Think of these as the “big sister” of the bowrider – a larger, even more spacious vessel with bow access. However, this is where the similarities end, as cuddy cabin boats contain a small private cabin with storage, seating, and sometimes even a head (bathroom). There’s plenty of seating on board and usually, a platform affixed to the stern, jetting over and outwards from the propulsion units. This is typically a great spot for fishing, sunning, or for use as a swimming platform. 

Cruisers and Motor Yachts

These are the vessels many boaters aspire to own. Spacious, grand, and rich in amenities and features, personal cruisers and motor yachts are large and costly to own. However, especially if you have the ideal insurance policy in place and sufficient income to actively maintain one, they afford a luxurious waterborne lifestyle unlike that of most other vessels. Multi-day or even multi-week stays onboard are perfectly manageable as long as you have a sufficiently experienced crew and supplies, and they cruise at high speeds without much “bobbing” in the water thanks to their sheer size and room for powerful engines. With complete kitchens, living spaces and bathrooms, multiple bedrooms, and even a dedicated bridge or cockpit, they allow plenty of room for large groups of passengers. That being said, you must operate one of these with care and precision, following local charts and boating regulations. 

These are just some of the many common boat types out there deserving of an insurance policy. Looking after your investment means less financial stress and more time to enjoy what you love about being on the water. Whether fishing, pleasure cruising, chartering, or otherwise, we at Portside Marine Insurance are happy to help with all your personal watercraft insurance needs. Contact us today to learn more!