Does insurance cover nonmotorized boats?

If you have a nonmotorized boat, like a kayak, sailboat, canoe, or dinghy, you can likely get boat insurance to cover it from damages while it's in use. However, if your nonmotorized boat is not being used as intended, such as if you removed the motor from a bass boat that originally had one, you may not be able to get a boat insurance policy for it. Your homeowners insurance can cover nonmotorized boats damaged by covered perils.

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What's considered a nonmotorized boat?

If your boat doesn't have a motor and was never intended to have one, it can be considered a nonmotorized boat, including if it's one of the following watercraft:

  • Dinghy
  • Sailboat
  • Kayak
  • Rowboat
  • Paddle boat
  • Inflatable raft
  • Canoe
  • Amphibious rigid inflatable boat (RIB)
  • Standup paddleboard

A boat insurance policy for a nonmotorized boat will be written and priced specifically for the type of watercraft you have. Be sure to ask your boat insurer if they offer coverage for nonmotorized boats; policies for nonmotorized boats aren't as common as policies for motorized boats, but it may be possible for them to cover yours.

Do I need boat insurance for a nonmotorized boat?

No, you're not required to get boat insurance for your nonmotorized boat. But insuring your nonmotorized boat can make sense if you're concerned about theft, accidents, and events on the water that cause damage and injuries.

How does boat insurance cover nonmotorized boats?

While there are no boat insurance requirements for nonmotorized boats, a boat insurance policy can protect you from damages and liability. The most common coverages include:

  1. Collision and comprehensive

    For damages to your nonmotorized boat caused by a covered event that's out of your control, a collision with another boat or object, or capsizing

  2. Liability

    For damages and injuries you cause to others while using your nonmotorized boat

  3. Medical payments

    For medical bills you and your passengers incur from a covered accident in your nonmotorized boat

  4. Uninsured/underinsured boater (UB/UIB)

    For your injuries if you're hit by a boater with little or no insurance

When determining which coverages you should get for your nonmotorized boat, consider not only how much it might cost to replace your boat if it were stolen or severely damaged but also the risks involved if you often use, say, your kayak around larger motorized watercraft like ski boats.

How does homeowners insurance cover unmotorized boats?

Your personal property coverage on your homeowners policy can likely cover repairs if your vessel gets damaged by a covered peril while on your property.

Keep in mind that personal property coverage might not extend to damage done while not on your own residence's property, depending on the incident; that's when a boat insurance policy's comprehensive coverage would come into play. For example, if your boat were to be damaged in an attempted theft while it wasn't on your property, your homeowners insurance policy may not cover the damages. However, if it were damaged by a hailstorm on your property, your homeowners' personal property coverage may cover the damages.

Also, be aware that you'll still be responsible for paying your deductible when filing a homeowners insurance claim. If your deductible is $1,000 but the damage to your watercraft only costs $500 to repair, it may not make sense to file the claim.

Pro tip:

If you have boat insurance and homeowners insurance, your boat insurance will likely serve as the primary coverage. So if your boat is damaged by a covered event while on your property and you have boat insurance, you'll file the claim through your boat insurance policy.

Are there limits to coverage on nonmotorized boats?

Comprehensive and collision coverage on your boat insurance policy will typically cover the actual cash value of your watercraft. In some cases, your boat will be covered up to an "agreed value" — the insured value agreed upon by you and your insurer. This agreed value will be written into your boat policy.

Your homeowners policy will have a coverage limit for personal property, typically 50% of your dwelling coverage limit. However, it's common for homeowners policies to have sub-limit of $1,500 for watercraft. Talk with your insurer if you need more coverage than your watercraft sub-limit allows.

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