Whether you’re fishing, hosting a small family gathering, or just enjoying a lazy day on the water, Maryland’s 7,719 miles of tidal shoreline make it a boater’s paradise. Even though boating is a popular activity in the Old Line State, it’s not without its perils. That’s why it helps to speak to the agents of Smallwood Insurance Agencies to find the right boat insurance for your needs.
Why You Should Have Boat Insurance
Maryland requires any boat over 14 feet that operates under, or is capable of operating under, motor power to be registered. You are not, however, required to purchase insurance for your boat or personal watercraft. However, as the Maryland Insurance Administration notes, “It is still a good idea to purchase an insurance policy to protect you and your investment.”
Why is it a good idea? Your boat or personal watercraft can easily be damaged by — or cause damage to — other boaters, incurring high costs and legal fees. Your insurance policy can provide a layer of protection against the property and liability claims and medical expenses that arise from these accidents. Furthermore, if you’ve leased or financed a boat, your lender or financial services corporation may require a policy even though the state does not.
Types of Insurance Available
There are two ways to insure a boat. One is through an endorsement on your homeowner’s insurance. This can work out to be less expensive, but there’s a catch: homeowner’s policies only provide coverage for smaller, lower-horsepower vessels, and coverage may be capped at a low dollar amount.
A boat owner’s policy provides more comprehensive coverage for loss, theft, property damage, and even a degree of coverage for onboard equipment and trailers used to transport boats. There are exclusions to boat owner’s policies as well (deterioration, wear and tear, and damage arising from business pursuits, criminal activity, racing, or “warlike acts”).
Boat Insurance Riders
Riders and endorsements are available for boaters just as they are for homeowner’s insurance and for auto insurance. Fuel spills, emergency assistance, bodily injury, medical, and other riders can and should be discussed with your insurance agent.
Lowering Your Premiums
There are a couple of different ways to keep your boat insurance premiums low. One of these is to take a high-deductible policy. This can be a good idea for some boat owners, but there’s an approach we prefer: slash premiums by increasing safety. Taking a boating safety course can lower your premiums. So can certain items you carry onboard, including fire extinguishers, ship-to-shore radios, depth finders, and more. Staying accident-free also helps, as will bundling your boat insurance with your auto insurance, homeowners insurance, and other policies through the same insurer.
Boat Insurance from Smallwood Insurance Agencies
Before we close, a note of caution: the information above applies to non-commercial boats. The insurance needs of a commercial vessel, including fishing and charter boats (among others), should be discussed with the agents of Smallwood Insurance Agencies.
And a further cautionary note: you may be reading this and breathing a sigh of relief that your boat is one less thing you have to insure. By the letter of the law, that’s certainly true. However, we’ve never had a client who lamented they had too much insurance when disaster struck. We invite you to contact us for insurance quotes that cover nearly every aspect of your home, car, business, and much more.