As the winter ice melts and the ground thaws in time for spring, boaters start to look at the season ahead in eager anticipation to get back on the water. Boating has grown in popularity over the last few years as an exciting way to explore nearby lakes and rivers. With the 2022 season fast approaching, you might be wondering if it is time to review your boat’s insurance policy.
Although boat insurance does not cover wear and tear costs or freezing damages, it is important to help keep your vessel in good working condition. This can be costly, but worry not, as we have put together a list of our best boat insurance tips to help you save while ensuring peace of mind.
Have the Right Deductible
It might be tempting to increase your deductible as much as possible so it can offset and thus lower your premiums. This isn’t necessarily the right move. While you will be assuming more risk by increasing your deductible, the difference in the cost to you can be higher. This is especially true if you experience several incidents of minor damages, where you will be paying out of pocket without any assistance from your insurer. Weigh the deductible against your risk tolerance, ability to pay out of pocket, and the premiums you are comfortable paying each month.
Bundling Isn’t Always Better
Some insurers might encourage you to bundle your home, auto, and boat insurance together to reduce your premium. However, if you file a claim on your boat for a repair, the rates for your home and auto insurance could increase as a result. With a dedicated marine insurance provider, you work with professionals who understand watercraft and the incidents that can happen with them. Plus, you are more likely to get a competitive price and coverage that leaves nothing to chance.
Understand Actual Cash vs. Agreed Amount Value
It is important to understand the two kinds of payouts available if your boat should be damaged beyond repair. Each plays a role in the cost of your premium. With agreed amount value or coverage, you will be paid for the value of your boat agreed between you and the insurer at the time your policy was opened. For actual cash value or coverage, you will be paid the value of your boat at the time of the payout, which will have depreciated since you opened the policy. Actual cash value policy holders will pay less for their premiums, but may not receive the full amount required to buy a new replacement for their boat.
Know Your Navigational Limits
Cruising around in calmer waters plays a factor into how much you pay for boat insurance. You can save money by avoiding busy areas, which are more likely to cause accidents for even the most experienced of boaters. Inform your insurer about which bodies of water and thoroughfares you plan to typically navigate. This will help to determine coverage and may potentially mean stable premiums by keeping your boat in a central location.
What About Lay-Up Costs?
While a great summer pastime, boats should be winterized well before freezing temperatures occur. While your vessel is laid up, you could choose to remove your boat insurance as it is not being used, eliminating your premium. The problem is, however, that you won’t be covered if it is stolen or damaged. If you start up your policy again in the spring, you could face higher premiums as your boat has been uninsured for several months. Ask your insurer about reduced premiums in the winter months while the risk to your boat is low. We recommend a year-round active policy to do away with any off-season financial stresses.
Take a Course
It’s important to have your boating licence or Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), sure, not to mention knowing your vessel of choice inside-out, but there is so much more to learn when it comes to best boating practices. Participate in a safety course, for instance, or take a class on recreational boating tips to improve your skills. Courses that offer certificates of completion are great to have on hand to show a thorough understanding of navigation, handling, safe docking, and otherwise. Demonstrate to your insurer that you have an increased level of preparedness and knowledge about what can happen on the water.
Keep Safety Equipment Well-Stocked and Maintained
There are several safety factors to consider when launching your boat into the water. Once you leave dry land, it is important to be prepared for any emergency that could occur on the water. A thorough amount of safety and preparedness equipment means you are aware of the risks of boat operation and want to do everything in your power to keep you and your passengers safe from injury.
Ensure you have the following fully stocked and well-maintained:
- First aid kit
- Lifejackets for everyone on board
- Life buoy
- Bailer bucket or hand pump to remove unwanted water from inside the boat
- Sound signalling device and navigation lights in times of reduced visibility
- Fire extinguisher
- Waterproof flashlight and flares
- Manual propelling device and anchor with 15 metres of rope or chain
While it is not required by law, boat insurance proves itself to be just as important as auto insurance when it comes to protecting your investment from damages or liabilities. Understanding your policy means you can make informed decisions about the maintenance of your boat and feel secure bringing passengers aboard. Standard boat insurance policies typically cover all-risk situations, meaning any risk not omitted from the policy is covered like theft, vandalism, fire, lightning strikes and storms. Liability is another key piece of boating insurance and policies usually include coverage for injuries and property damage.
At Portside Insurance, we know that protecting your investment and ensuring the safety of everyone on board is your top priority. However, we also know it’s possible to save money while maintaining peace of mind. Our boat insurance policies keep costs under control while also ensuring optimal coverage for your boat and its voyages to come. Contact us to learn more.