Pennsylvania Boat Insurance

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Boasting over 70 lakes as well as access to Lake Erie and the Chesapeake Bay, Pennsylvania has more opportunities for boaters than you might initially think. 

The many waterways in the state make for great boating, and to enjoy them uninhibited it’s best to have boat insurance. Boat insurance can safeguard you, your passengers, and your vessel in several ways.

Having boat insurance in Pennsylvania is highly encouraged, per the state’s insurance commissioner. To make a well-informed decision about getting a policy, let’s break down exactly what boat insurance is and what you need to know about it so you understand why it’s so important.

Types of Boat Insurance in Pennsylvania

Boat insurance in Pennsylvania is the best way to protect your vessel from the different types of damage it can sustain when it’s in use or docked (what you thought was) safely at a marina or behind your home.

Due to the countless number of variables and differences in boat owners, boat uses, and boat types, watercraft insurance is highly customizable. The coverage you can get in a policy can vary from company to company, with different providers following different procedures for underwriting.

But, every policy has some standard protections, and they can generally be divided into two categories: liability protection and physical damage protection. Both forms of coverage together can be considered comprehensive boat insurance. 

Liability Coverage

Liability insurance for boaters covers the damages you cause in at-fault accidents. If you collide with someone on the water, your liability insurance can cover the medical expenses for any injuries you cause and the cost to repair any property you damaged. It can also help cover costs related to fuel spills and wreckage removal.

Liability insurance doesn’t cover damage to your own vessel, though. It just prevents you from having to come out of your own pocket to pay for damage you may cause to others. Since bills from boating accidents can rack up quickly, liability limits usually range from $300,000 to $1,000,000.

Comprehensive Coverage

For your insurance company to reimburse you for your boat when it sustains damage, you’d need some type of comprehensive boat insurance policy. Comprehensive coverage ensures your vessel is covered from several types of damage, like fires, collisions, vandalism, and sinking. Theft is also usually covered, meaning your carrier can reimburse you for the value of your vessel if it gets stolen.

Damage from many types of severe weather, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and hail, are also covered. But, these types of damage often come with certain conditions, so double-check with your provider to be clear when you’ll receive coverage.

Actual Cash Value vs Agreed Value

When you do incur damage, one of the biggest considerations with comprehensive boat insurance is deciding how you want your insurer to cover the damage. You can typically choose between an agreed-upon value or actual cash value.

Agreed value coverage: Agreed value coverage is what it sounds like. Your insurance company will cover your vessel for a value you both agree upon when getting your policy. This price is based on its market value at the time of binding. Then if you file a claim for a total loss, you can receive up to the market value of your boat no matter when you file. There is no depreciation.

Actual cash value coverage: ACV covers your boat for its market value when you get your policy, but it factors in depreciation over time, which means you’ll receive a smaller reimbursement for damage the older your boat is. So, actual cahs value provides less coverage, but it’s usually the more affordable option.

Pennsylvania Boat Insurance Considerations

Boat owners in southeastern states have to deal with hurricanes that could damage their boats on short notice. This isn’t as much of a problem in Pennsylvania. Instead, you need to watch for cold weather and hail that could wreck your boat when you’re not using it.

You’ll likely need to winterize your boat in the cold months. Any wear and tear that happens as a result of failing to maintain your boat during winter won’t be covered by your provider. The insurance company expects you to do routine maintenance on your boat, and properly caring for your vessel in the winter is part of this.

Some companies may offer discounts for laying up your boat in the off months because they know you won’t be using it then. The absence of year-round boating keeps insurance rates relatively lower overall, as well, compared to southern states. Be aware of specified or expected layup dates in your policy, if you have them, though. Your insurer might not cover damage you sustain if you decide to take out your boat early before your layup period is complete.

In addition to weather concerns, some policies have navigational limits you need to consider. You should always be covered for inland boating in the many lakes and rivers around Pennsylvania, but your plan may not cover you if you take your boat a certain number of miles offshore. Common navigational limits include 75 or 125 miles. You may also find that travel to certain regions is off-limits entirely, too, such as trips to Mexico or certain parts of the Caribbean.

When getting a policy, a boat insurer may also ask if Pennsylvania is your primary residence. If you keep your boat at a house in the state that you’re only at seasonally, you may have higher premiums. Some boat insurance companies may not want you to leave your boat unattended for months at a time since there’s no one to prevent thefts or mitigate damage.

Keep Your Vessel Afloat With Boat Insurance

Don’t get sunk by unexpected damages.Keep your vessel safe with a policy from one of the nation’s top carriers.

Is Boat Insurance Required in Pennsylvania?

Boat insurance isn’t required in Pennsylvania. No law mandates that you have to get it. But, you may need it to do business with certain private businesses.

Marinas or boatyards may require customers to have liability insurance on their watercraft. Many marinas don’t want to run the risk of dealing with uninsured boaters in case of an accident. Liability insurance on the boats can help cover any gray area between their commercial liability policy and your actions.

Additionally, lenders typically require you to have a comprehensive policy on your boat if you’ve financed it. This way, the lender can recoup your boat’s value from the insurance company in case of serious damage. 

If you total your watercraft, you likely won’t have the remaining loan balance on hand to reimburse your lender for their investment in your boat. Thus, lending companies typically require insurance so the insurance policy can cover damage costs.

You also should be aware of the legal requirements for boating in Pennsylvania and how they could influence your insurance. For example, boating safety education certificates are required to operate personal watercraft. Many insurers offer policy discounts for passing boat safety courses as it could reduce your likelihood of filing a claim.

Additionally, if it’s discovered that you were recklessly speeding or operating your boat under the influence when you collided with someone, your insurer may not cover you because you were breaking the law. Also, allowing unauthorized drivers to use your vessel at the time of damage could cause claim issues. 

How Much Is Boat Insurance in Pennsylvania?

You may be able to get boat insurance in Pennsylvania for around $200 a year, but you’ll pay more if you have a large, expensive boat. Also, having just liability insurance is generally more affordable than having comprehensive coverage. The truth is the cost of boat insurance is affected by many factors that make it difficult to give a blanket estimate. 

Some important factors that you should know affect the cost of boat insurance in Pennsylvania are:

Vessel age and size: Normally, bigger boats cost more to insure than smaller boats. Bigger boats are more expensive to rebuild, thus more expensive to cover. Also, especially old or vintage boats may cost more to cover, as unique parts or features could be hard to replicate in repairs.

Method of storage: Boat insurance carriers may prefer that you keep your boat inside rather than outside when you’re not using it. Boats stored inside have a smaller chance of being stolen and damaged by the elements, which could influence your rates. For example, policyholders who keep their boats in a locked garage during the boating season rather than exposed on a trailer in the backyard are mitigating their risk and may get lower premiums as a result.

Claims and accident history: You’ll almost certainly pay more for boat insurance if you have a record of boat claims. Companies use as many factors as they can to assess a policyholder’s risk. Insurers believe someone who has filed boat claims in the recent past is more likely to file another.

Also, if you’ve been proven to be a dangerous boat driver by being arrested for operating under the influence you’ll likely have higher premiums. The same could be true if you’ve been proven to cause multiple boat accidents in the past.

Keep Your Vessel Afloat With Boat Insurance

Don’t get sunk by unexpected damages.Keep your vessel safe with a policy from one of the nation’s top carriers.

The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.

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