How to Insure your New (or old) Boat!

My husband and I just got a boat. “Got”, being the key word here in that sentence. Let me start from the beginning. My husband is a boat person. He has always had a boat since he was old enough to own and operate one. When I met him a few years ago, he did have a boat. The picture below is of us on one of our first boat trips together on that boat! You can’t really see the boat but you get the idea. This boat was a 75′ and it worked, however there were several issues. salty dog He ended up selling it to a buddy because it was becoming more of a hassle than anything else. Months passed and then, we got another boat, a jet boat. This one was given to us from another buddy who had just the hull of the boat, NO engine and it needed massive amounts of interior work. But, my husband the champ mechanic said “I’ll take it and work on it!” Well, it sat in our driveway, untouched for months. Finally, before we moved out of that particular house we got rid of it. I was happy to have my full driveway back because parking on the street in front of your own home stinks.

Fast forward a few months and he again has the itch. He tells me, “Babe, we need to buy another boat! I’ve always been a boat guy and this summer will not be fun without one.” So, the hunt began, and each night for the past two months he was religiously searching on the internet for boats. Some were awesome, but the price wasn’t there for us; or some were just going to be too much work for what we wanted.

One night we had just finished eating dinner. I had moseyed into the family room and left him at the table. Our son had retreated into his room, because that’s what 13-year-old boys do, and I had just sat down on the couch to catch up on my DVR. Then, I hear him going nuts in the kitchen. “Oh, my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh…Hello Sir,” He was so excited he just started talking on the phone and I had no clue what the heck he was doing. He had been looking on Craigslist, a popular website for people to post things for sale. Someone had posted in the for-sale section “Free boat to anyone that wants it”. IMG_4569 The post was only online for 8 minutes before my husband called. Ok, now if you remember our jet boat experience from above I was extremely weary of someone posting “free boat.” However, this one seemed for real.

My husband spoke with this man on the phone for at least a half an hour and scheduled a meeting for the very next day. He met with this man, who simply didn’t want it anymore. He had other plans for his side yard and didn’t want the hassle of trying to sell it. He wanted to give the boat to someone who would simply enjoy it, and someone who also knew a lot about boats so they would know what they are doing. He quizzed my husband and son about boats and said, “Ok now follow me to my house and it’s yours.”

I know what you’re thinking right now, something must be wrong with it. I’m a huge skeptic when it comes to things like this too, and I find it hard to believe that someone just gave away for free a perfectly good boat. Well, we only had to order two parts on Amazon and put a new battery in it, total cost $160.00. You know what, she runs like a dream. Here is our first test drive on Folsom Lake! Mind you when we took her out it was not summer yet so it was stinking cold! IMG_4558It is not a brand-new boat, a 1989, but it had barely been used. There are a few minor tears in the interior but that isn’t anything a little love couldn’t fix. The boat was just taking up space in his yard. Wow! I still cannot believe it! We got a boat! For Free!

So now what? Time to insure it and get some boat insurance. The funny thing is my husband already asked me to add it to our auto insurance. Unfortunately, we cannot add a boat onto our auto policy, but we can purchase a separate boat policy that will cover it. “Make sure you add on the additional coverage if the propeller scrapes against a rock!” he said. I kind of chuckled in my head a bit because I thought, shouldn’t he just know there isn’t an additional coverage just for that. When you have a boat policy and hit anything, meaning if you scrape a rock on your outboard, hull, etc. that goes under your collision coverage (if you have collision coverage). Because it is considered a collision, or most commonly referred to as an at fault accident. “Well, I want collision so make sure it is on there!” he said.

When you are insuring a boat, there are a few things to know when you call in for a quote. First, other than the year make and model you need to know what the value of the boat is. Why do we need the value? Because the company will need to know how much coverage to provide to you should you have a loss. How much should I insure my boat for? Because we didn’t purchase this boat, I now need to do some research on what the value is for this boat I have. I could also go and get an appraisal, which would be the best option so I know exactly how much the boat is worth.

We will also ask you for the Hull ID. What’s this? The Hull ID is like the VIN for vehicles. This is the identification number for that specific vessel. It is usually found on the registration and also on the boat in the rear upper right corner. You’ll have to take a look on your boat for yourself, and boats older than a 1972 may not have the Hull ID physically on the boat.

Next, we need to know where the boat will be stored, what the length, top speed and horse power is, and whether the motor is inboard or outboard. IMG_4868Why do we need these items? Because the rate you get is based off certain factors including the ones above and not just the age and value. You also want to make sure you have the trailer information i.e. the value and the VIN if you want to insure the trailer. This is something that is added onto your boat policy, not your auto policy. If you have an outboard motor on the boat you may want to list the value of the outboard motor for your policy. This way if there is a loss the insurance company will know the specifics and value of your motor. There may be an additional endorsement for more coverage so check with your insurance carrier.

One of the coverage questions we’ll ask you is if you want comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. Do I really need this? Well, no you don’t, these are optional coverage items you do not have to purchase. However, if you choose to purchase only liability and have a physical damage or theft loss you’d be on your own for replacing or repairing your boat. Insurance exists to protect you from financial hardship. So, if you are fully able to pay for another boat on your own without the assistance of insurance, then just purchasing liability is what you can do. When you have comprehensive and collision and have a covered loss, all you would have to pay is your deductible and let the carrier do the rest. Now, if another boater hit you their insurance would be responsible for any repairs/replacements; unless they didn’t have coverage then the loss may go under your uninsured motorist coverage (if you choose to purchase that coverage). Check with your specific carrier about additional coverage options you can purchase such as on water towing, fishing equipment, personal effects etc. You can also ask your agent if the company offers additional add-ons, aka endorsements.

Just like my husband wanted, we’ll have coverage for the boat should it scrape a huge rock.  Unfortunately, it would count as an at fault accident but we won’t have to pay to replace a $5000-ish part out of pocket, just our deductible of $500. Considering we got our boat for free, I’d say that’s a pretty good deal. Also, I hope we don’t run into a hidden rock!

A: 201 Natoma St Folsom, CA 95630

P: (916)985-7500 F: (916)985-7302 T: (916)389-1820

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