Virginia Boat Insurance

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With fantastic fishing and plenty of water to choose from, especially if you’re on the Atlantic coast, boating in Virginia is a real pleasure.

Unfortunately, a serene day out on the water can change for the worst in an instant, whether it’s the fault of another careless boater, a momentary lapse of judgment, or a sudden change in the weather.

Boat insurance can help protect you, your passengers, and your vessel when things turn sour. A proper policy is the best safety net you can when cruising. To get a good picture of boat insurance in Virginia, we’ll go over important policy factors, requirements, and costs below.

Types of Boat Insurance in Virginia

Boat insurance can generally be classified into two categories: liability protection and physical damage protection. Liability insurance covers your financial livelihood after an accident so you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket for damages to others.

Physical damage insurance protects the value of your vessel so you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket to fix your own boat. This protection is usually achieved through a comprehensive boat insurance policy. Let’s take a look at both of them.

Liability Coverage

If you cause an accident, boating liability insurance permits your provider to cover the costs of the accident. Liability insurance usually covers medical expenses if you injure someone, and property damage costs if you affect the other party’s boat or other property.

Liability limits on boat insurance policies can typically be purchase in increments of hundreds of thousands of dollars, with policies in the $300,000 to $1 million being normal. In a policy, the cost difference between higher and lower liability limits is usually relatively small, so it might be worth it to opt for the higher end of protection.

Bills and stress from a boating accident can pile up quickly, and you don’t want to be stuck paying out of pocket for damages if they exceed your policy limits.

Comprehensive Coverage

If you have liability insurance only, you’ll still be on the hook for repairs to your boat after an accident. For the insurance company to cover damages to your boat as well, you’d need a comprehensive boat insurance policy.

Comprehensive watercraft insurance can reimburse you for repairs due to a variety of damages. Commonly covered perils include fire, lightning, collisions, vandalism, and sinking. Your insurer will also cover you if your boat gets stolen.

Damage from severe weather, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and hail, is also usually covered. But, your protection from these may come with some further conditions that vary by policy. We’ll shed some more light on it below, but double-check with your carrier to be sure you fully understand when and how you’re covered from severe weather. 

Comprehensive coverage typically reimburses you in one of two ways: for the agreed value of your vessel, or for the actual cash value of your vessel.

Agreed-value coverage establishes a price level for your boat that applies for the life of the policy. Your vessel will be covered for this value, typically around the fair market value at the time of binding, in case of total loss. So, if you and your insurer agree your boat is worth $50,0000, you can receive up to $50,000 if your boat gets totaled no matter what.

Actual cash value coverage factors in depreciation, which means you’ll receive smaller reimbursements the older your boat is. So, let’s say you cover your $50,000 boat with an actual cash value policy. If you file a claim for a total loss in five years, you’ll receive a fraction of the $50,000, with the payout depending on the depreciation formula of your provider. No matter what, you won’t receive enough to fully replace your boat.

Actual cash value doesn’t provide as much coverage, but it’s typically always cheaper than agreed-upon value.

Common Virginia Boat Insurance Risks

There are some aspects of boat insurance in Virginia that aren’t found everywhere else that policyholders should be aware of. One of these is the winterization of your vessel.

The weather in Virginia means you should be winterizing your boat at least partially in the cold months. Your insurer expects you to properly maintain your vessel, and they likely won’t cover any expedited wear and tear or damage that was preventable resulting from failing to winterize your boat.

Your policy may also include expected lay-up dates. If you use your vessel when your insurer thinks it’s stored, you won’t receive coverage for any damage that happens during that time. You might find that the longer the layup dates in your policy are, the lower your rates are. 

In addition to weather concerns, some policies have navigational limits you need to consider. Many providers may not want you to take your boat a certain number of miles offshore.

A boat insurer may also ask if you plan on keeping your boat at your primary residence in Virginia or if it’s at a seasonal home. Carriers may not want you to leave your boat unattended for months at a time at your second home since there’s no one to prevent thefts or mitigate damage if needed.

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.

Does Virginia Require Boat Insurance?

Virginia doesn’t have any law that requires you to get a personal boat insurance policy. But, there are a few situations in which a private business may make you get insurance on your vessel. You may need boat insurance in Virginia to work with some lenders and marinas.

If you’re financing your boat, lenders or brokers usually require loanees to have comprehensive boat insurance. This way, if the vessel gets damaged or totaled, the lender can recoup their investment in your boat through the insurance policy that will cover the damage.

In addition, many marinas or boatyards may want you to have a liability policy on your boat before letting you store it. This ensures that they won’t have to be financially responsible for your actions, and it adds another safety net on top of their existing commercial insurance. If you think about it, a facility full of uninsured vessels sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

Virginia does require boaters to take certain boating safety courses to operate a vessel legally in the state. This could go hand in hand with insurance, though, as many providers offer discounts to boaters for taking safety classes since safe boaters are less likely to file a claim.

How Much Is Boat Insurance in Virginia?

Depending on your boat, you may be able to get a boat insurance policy in Virginia for around $200 per month. This depends on several factors, though, and it may not be an attainable number for everyone. The type of coverage you get is crucial; comprehensive insurance is usually more costly than just liability insurance, for instance.

Here are some more important factors that affect your Virginia boat insurance rate:

Vessel Size and Age

Bigger boats generally cost more to insure since they cost more to rebuild or repair than smaller boats. There are simply more bigger, costly parts. For instance, a 45-foot sailboat would likely cost more to cover than a 20-foot bass boat.

Also, especially old or vintage boats may cost more to insure than a modern-day boat of the same size. There may be unique, expensive features that would be costly to repair or replicate. Some insurers may not cover specialty boats altogether, like ones with wooden hulls, for instance.

Method of Storage

Storing your boat inside can protect it from theft and the elements better than keeping your boat outdoors. Some providers may take this into account and offer you a discount for doing so. In Virginia, protecting your boat from the cold may be a priority for insurers.

Claims and Accident History

You’ll likely pay more for boat insurance if you have a recent history of boating claims or at-fault accidents. Insurance companies try to mitigate risk and having these blemishes on your records is a potential red flag. Insurance companies believe those who have filed a claim in the past are more likely to do it again, and they may charge you higher premiums as a result.


Your location in the state may matter to insurers, too. If you live in Virginia Beach, for instance, you may pay more for coverage than someone in a small town since there’s a higher chance of accidents or theft in a large city. Also, you may have higher rates if you plan to do most of your boating in the Atlantic rather than being confined to the relative safety of lakes and rivers.

Optional Coverages and Add-ons

 Boat insurance is highly customizable. There are many types of optional coverages you can add to your policy for an added cost if you think the protection is worth it. Some examples include towing assistance, uninsured boater coverage, trailer coverage, fishing equipment coverage, and more. The options available to you will vary by provider.

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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