Sailboat Insurance Guide: Costs, Requirements & More

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  • Sailboat Insurance Guide: Costs, Requirements & More

Owning a sailboat is freedom. Navigating the oceans, rivers, and lakes of the world under sail brings about feelings you can’t replicate anywhere else. To properly protect your vessel, and protect your ability to take the world’s waters by storm, you need insurance for your sailboat.

Below, we’ve tried to answer any questions you may have about insuring your sailboat by explaining many, many aspects of boat insurance coverage. Here’s everything you need to know about sailboat insurance.

Sailboat Insurance: The Basics

Your boat can get damaged when it’s in use, when it’s stored, when it’s floating at your dock, or when it’s sitting in your yard. You can also be liable for expenses if you injure someone or damage someone else’s property with your boat. 

Boat insurance is designed to protect you and your vessel from financial loss. Depending on the policy you choose, your boat insurance can reimburse you in every one of these scenarios. You don’t usually need to find a specific sailboat insurance provider unless you’re looking for coverage for worldwide cruising or your boat is exceptionally large. Otherwise, most insurance companies that write policies for boats are equipped to handle all types of vessels, from small dinghies and jet skis to yachts and sailboats.

However, even though you don’t need a special provider, there are a few specifics and considerations to know when looking for insurance for a sailboat. 

What Sailboat Insurance Covers

An insurance policy that covers your sailboat for damages it could incur is usually referred to as a comprehensive, or full, insurance plan. These policies will typically cover your boat from fire, lightning, sinking, vandalism and theft. Policies can also include coverage for weather events like high winds, hail, and hurricanes, although your carrier may have some stipulations about coverage from such severe weather. 

Boat insurance is highly customizable. In addition to the above protections, many policies also include some coverage for wreckage removal and fuel spill cleanups. Some include towing coverage in case of emergencies. You may also purchase dedicated protection for your fishing equipment, mechanical breakdowns, and more.

When getting covered for damage to your boat, you typically either get reimbursed for the replacement cost of what was damaged or for the actual cash value of the item or part. For sailboats, even with replacement cost coverage, sometimes certain parts are only covered on an actual cash value basis because the insurance company doesn’t deem them permanent fixtures of the vessel. These parts may include sails and rigging, as well as anchors, tarps, dock lines, and some electronics on your boat.

For instance, let’s say the sail on your 15-year-old sloop tears. Even though a new sail of the same quality as your initial one may cost $2,500, your insurance company may reimburse you less than that, say $1,000, if they cover your sails on an actual cash value basis since they believe the sail had depreciated over time.

Depreciation formulas vary by company. But, be aware of this possibility, as you may want to ask your provider about depreciation on partial losses.

Sailboat Insurance Cost

The cost of sailboat insurance varies by the age of your vessel, its length, its motor type, and the boat’s location. But, sailboat insurance usually costs a few hundred dollars a month, or between 1% and 5% of your vessel’s value. For instance, if you have a $200,000 sailboat, and insurance is about 2% of its value, it could cost you $4,000 per year to cover it, which comes to about $333 every month.

The size and number of motors your boat has influences the cost of insurance. Generally, the more you have, the more it costs to cover your boat. This aspect of coverage can make sailboat insurance more affordable than for a powerboat of a similar size, as sailboats typically have fewer and less powerful engines. 

The material your sailboat is built from also affects how much you’ll pay for boat insurance. Insurers prefer fiberglass hulls or aluminum hulls, as opposed to wooden or steel ones. Some companies won’t cover wooden or steel hulls at all. 

Insurance companies also offer many discounts to bring down your boat insurance rate. Completing certain boater safety courses could qualify you for a discount. Bundling your boat insurance with other policies you have can save you money. And, in some cases, your carrier could reward you for moving your sailboat out of potential hurricane danger zones during hurricane season.

You may also be able to change your rate by adjusting your deductible. Opting for a higher deductible, meaning vowing to pay more out of pocket for damages, can decrease your premiums. But, you may have different deductibles for different components of your sailboat. Fishing equipment, personal items, and portable items may have different deductibles, and your mast may have a separate deductible in case it gets damaged.

Having sailing history or experience is a plus when it comes to your insurance rate, too. Generally, if you have a long, safe track record of sailing, this will be reflected favorably in your premium.

Sailboat Insurance Requirements

Generally, there are only two scenarios when you’re required to have an insurance policy on your sailboat. The first is if you have a loan on it, and your lender mandates a policy to protect their investment. The second is if you want to store your sailboat in a marina or yard, and they require you to have liability insurance to do so. 

In the United States, the government will never make you get insurance for your sailboat unless you live in Utah or Arkansas, the only two states that require boat insurance. So, you won’t usually be required to get a policy. But, when you’re getting one, there are a few prerequisites you’ll want to know no matter where you are.

Most of the major boat insurance carriers have size, value, and age limits when it comes to covering boats. If your boat is too big, too old, or too valuable, you’ll need to find a specialty insurer.

Progressive, for instance, doesn’t usually accept boats over 10 years old valued over $500,000, boats 11-20 years old valued over $250,000, or boats over 20 years old valued over $60,000. And, they won’t usually accept any boat over 50 feet long. Geico won’t accept any boat over 70 feet in length, or any vessel valued over $2,500,000. 

Most insurers also won’t accept houseboats, or a sailboat you’re permanently living on. And, carriers typically don’t accept boats that were previously deemed a total loss by another insurance company in the past.

Some companies may make you pay more for insurance on a catamaran than for a monohull. It varies by provider. Since catamarans have more hulls and more engines, they’re generally more expensive than a monohull of the same size, thus it costs more to replace or repair if it were damaged. They’re also more difficult to refloat if they sink since they can’t be righted as easily as a monohull. 

As we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of variables that go into the cost of the boat insurance policy, but just be aware that some companies are friendlier towards catamarans than others.

What You Need For a Sailboat Insurance Quote

When you’re ready to get a quote for an insurance plan to protect your sailboat, there’s some basic information you’ll need. It’s normal for carriers to ask for your boat’s:

  • Make and model, including the year it was built and its length
  • Hull identification number
  • When you bought the boat
  • How much you paid for the boat
  • Where and how (wet dock, dry dock, in a marina, in your backyard, etc.) the boat will primarily be stored
  • Personal information such as your name, address, email address, and your boating history

Insurance companies know sailboats are used relatively often for long-distance trips. You may be asked to define a navigation area when you’re getting a sailboat insurance quote, too. Some companies won’t insure you outside of the navigation area you define, while others will cover you at the expense of higher premiums. 

If you’re an active cruiser, the insurance company will likely be quite interested in your boating experience. Before giving you an insurance policy to take your sailboat around the globe, insurers usually require significant boating experience. You may not get a policy if you’re new to cruising or don’t have a lot of experience in open waters.

You may also be asked if or when you’ve had a marine survey done to your boat. A survey report done by a licensed professional gives the insurance company a detailed description of the overall condition of the boat. The engine, rigging, and other systems will be assessed. It helps the insurer determine the boat’s value.

You might not need a survey for a new sailboat. But, many insurers won’t cover older boats without a survey. The age at which boats require a survey varies by company, but it may be any boat older than ten or fifteen years.

The Best Sailboat Insurance

The best sailboat insurance is the one that covers all your bases with any desired add-ons at an affordable price. The best sailboat insurance for one person may not be the best for another; there is no hands-down best boat insurance company. This is why it’s vital to shop around and compare prices.

It also depends on your boat. Some companies may be better suited to cover older or especially large boats than others. You need to find the policy that’s right for you.

An important part of boat insurance is liability coverage. You probably don’t want to carry just the minimum amount, which is usually around $100,000. Most providers would recommend at least $500,000 to $1,00,000. Medical expenses and property damage bills can rack up quickly after an accident. You don’t want to be lacking liability coverage when you need it.

Additionally, the best sailboat insurance is probably the one that covers the most. A comprehensive policy that includes as many forms of weather-related damage as possible would best protect your vessel. 

Be aware of policy restrictions. Watch for named storm deductibles, navigation areas, and cruising limits. You want to be covered no matter where you decide to travel.

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