Boat insurance helps cover repairs due to accidents, theft, fire, storms, and other perils. It also offers liability protection if your watercraft injures someone or damages someone else’s property.
Insurance can provide peace of mind in unexpected events even if you don’t use your boat regularly. To help you find the policy that best fits your lifestyle, check out Money’s guide to the best boat insurance companies for 2021.
Our Top Picks for Boat Insurance
- Progressive – Best for Policy Discounts
- BoatUS – Best for Membership Benefits
- Foremost – Best insurance packages
- Chubb – Best for Yachts
- State Farm – Best for Covering Boat Rentals
- Markel Insurance – Best Insurance for Businesses
- National Boat Owners Association – Best Insurance Agency
Best Boat Insurance Reviews
- Wreckage removal and fuel spill cleanup included
- Accident forgiveness and disappearing deductibles
- Coverage limitations for expensive watercraft, and for big boats in hurricane-prone states
Not every insurer includes in its standard coverage the removal of your boat if it is wrecked and damaged from fuel spills. Progressive is among those that do, but there are limitations. Wreckage removal is covered only when it is deemed to be legally necessary, and fuel spills only to the limits of your liability coverage.
Progressive boat insurance policies include accident forgiveness which keeps rates from increasing if your claims are for $500 or less. Boaters who’ve been Progressive customers for at least four years and remained accident-free for three are exempt from a rate increase for any boat accident, regardless of the claim amount.
For an additional cost, you may include a “disappearing deductibles” policy that deducts 25% from your deductible amount for every claim-free period on your boat policy — until it reaches zero.
- Free boater safety and education programs to earn discounts
- Extra-cost towing and emergency assistance plans are available
- Geico auto insurance policyholders may get a discount
- Option to extend your coverage to Alaska, Bahamas, Mexico, and the Caribbean
- Not all policy options available in every state or vessel type
- Does not offer replacement-cost insurance
- BoatUS membership required to sign up for unlimited towing benefits
BoatUS is one of the largest membership-based organizations for recreational boat owners. While membership isn’t required to get a BoatUS insurance quote, buying one entitles you to benefits much like those offered by AAA or other auto clubs for your car. These include BoatUS safety courses (free to all, regardless of whether they have BoatUS insurance), the completion of which can earn you discounts on your boat insurance.
The company is owned by Geico and offers agreed value, actual cash value, and liability coverage policies for most types of boats — though not replacement cost coverage, which many insurers offer.
The Membership program offers discounts on charter cruises, towing, fuel, boat supplies, fishing stores, watercraft storage, repairs, and other services. There is also towing assistance, which varies by the membership level you choose.
The four membership plans vary in price between $25 and $179 per year. Each plan includes 24/7 towing assistance, jump-starts, fuel delivery, and soft grounding. As you move up a price tier, the plans may cover up to 100% of emergency tows and provide a reimbursement of up to $3,000 for tows not provided by the BoatUS towing network.
- Eight packages by boat type
- Multiple discounts, such as those for boaters 55 years or older
- Bahamas and Mexico navigation included with Elite package
- Specialized insurance options for USAA members
- May not cover boats over 50 feet in length or $500,000 in value
- Some coverage options only available with the Elite package
Insurance companies usually offer a base policy that boaters can customize by adding optional riders or by choosing policies tailored to boat type. Foremost offers an unusually high number — eight — of such packages, tailored to boat type, age, or coverage level. These can simplify the selection of the policy features you need.
Foremost also offers three main packages: the Saver, Plus, and Elite. The Saver is an inexpensive insurance option that provides actual cash value settlements which take depreciation into account.
Upgrading to the Plus allows you to add a total loss replacement settlement, which pays to repair your boat to the condition and with the same materials as before an accident, rather than only to a depreciated amount.
- Covers an unusually wide variety of watercraft, including yachts, kayaks, and canoes
- Optional coverage for rented boats
- Lay-up discount available if you don’t use the boat year-round
- No actual cash value coverage is available
Like many other insurers, State Farm boat insurance pays for damages your boat causes to others’ property, such as to another boat or to a dock, and injuries to others during accidents. But State Farm also offers an optional add-on liability protection for rented boats, a rarer feature of boat policies.
State Farm provides liability protection when you rent a boat during a vacation or while yours is being repaired — in fact, they may also reimburse part of your rental costs if you rent a boat while yours is in the shop. And if you rent your boat to someone, State Farm may also help pay for damages to your boat caused by the person who rented it.
- Covers especially large and/or expensive yachts
- Complimentary background screenings, travel briefings, and discounted rates on security services
- Consultations on local laws and customs
- No deductions for depreciation on most partial loss claims
- No information on the website about policy discounts
Insurance companies typically cover boats up to 50 feet in length and up to $500,000. Chubb, on the other hand, has two insurance plans tailored for pleasure yachts that are between 36 and 70 feet in length and valued at up to $3 million. Coverage is also available for captained vessels of 70 feet or longer and valued at $3 million and up.
The two yacht insurance policies include standard coverage options such as agreed value coverage, emergency towing and assistance, and liability protection. However, Chubb’s policies go further to cover costs incurred to haul or dock the vessel due to an incoming storm, coverage for the marina where the yacht is stored, liability protection for the boat’s crew, and more. They may also pay up to $25,000 to cover the cost of fines and penalties as a result of marine environmental damage and more.
Yacht owners may also benefit from a lack of deductions for depreciation on most repairs, and coverage of up to $10,000 to charter a boat if your own vessel can’t be repaired within 72 hours. There is similar coverage for renting a watercraft in the event your own is unavailable.
- Insurance coverage for watercraft used for commercial purposes
- Covers liability for damage to the vessel’s storage facilities
- Diminishing deductible program
- Few physical branches nationwide
Where most boat insurance companies cover boats and watercraft used recreationally. Markel offers an insurance policy that covers business purposes, including commercial fishing, boating classes, renting, and chartering. Its marine insurance policy also covers liability for any damage the vessel causes to the rental facility where it is stored.
Markel covers several types of boats, whether it be a yacht chartered for sightseeing or a boat you own and operate for marina cleanups. Several insurance options are available such as coverage for damaged equipment and liability coverage for property damages, bodily injury, pollution (including fuel spills), and the crew.
Markel also offers policies for boats meant for personal use, with rates as low as $100 per year.
The National Boat Owners Association
- Pairs you up with the best providers for your needs
- No membership is needed, but members get benefits such as emergency towing and discounts at marine retailers
- Provides financing to buy new or used vessels
- Must go through quote process to get more information on coverage options
If you’re unsure as to the boat insurer that’s best for you, you may want to go for a boat insurance agency. The National Boat Owners Association (NBOA) connects you with insurers for all types of boats including speed boats, sailboats, fishing boats, catamarans, and yachts, as well as watercraft such as jet skis.
The insurance companies NBOA works with offer a wide range of coverage options such as liability protection with limits from $100,000 to over $1,000,000, towing services, and personal property reimbursement. Some insurers also offer total loss replacement coverage which replaces your boat with a new one of the same make and model, or similar, in the event of a total loss.
Membership isn’t necessary to get insurance but does get you benefits including emergency dispatch services, towing coverage, marine financing, industry discounts, and more. NBOA offers two membership plans, costing $35 or $75 per year.
Other companies we considered
- Offers premiums as low as $25 per month
- Discount if you own a home, even if it’s not insured under Allstate homeowners insurance
- High ratio of complaints filed with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)
- Insurance packages ideal for fishing trips
- Pollution liability coverage and wreckage removal are included
- Roadside assistance included if you insure your boat trailer with Nationwide
- Limited coverage add-ons available
- Scored below average on several J.D. Power customer satisfaction study
United Services Automobile Association (USAA)
- Members get a 5% discount on coverage for most watercraft valued under $150,000
- Discount for being claim-free
- Ensures most types of boats
- USAA boat insurance is only available to military families.
American Family Insurance
- Coverage for a wide range of vessels, including property liability and physical damage coverage for kayaks, canoes, dinghies, row boats, stand up paddle boards and more
- Additional policies for personal watercraft, houseboats, sailboats, bass and fishing boats, yachts and speed and power boats
- Multi-policy discount
- Policies are available only in 19 states
United States Power Squadrons (USPS)
- Membership includes discounts on BoatUS insurance policies
- USPS safety course graduates get a one-year complimentary membership with BoatUS
- Insurance program only available to members
- Membership entails an additional cost