What is Boat Insurance and Why Do You Need It?

couple stands on bow of boat

Warm sun. Cool breeze. If you have a boat, you get it: There’s nothing like being out on the water.

You cherish your boat, and the memories you make there are the reason your investment is worth every penny. Having the right insurance coverage for your boat can help you float on worry-free.

If you’re ready to buy boat insurance, talk to a local professional like an Erie Insurance agent. He or she can talk you through your coverage options so you understand what fits your needs and budget.  

For answers to common questions about boat insurance, keep reading.

What is boat insurance?
A boat insurance policy can provide coverage for you and your boat should something unexpected happen. The policy can include coverage for damage to your boat or its equipment as well as injuries to people and damage to property or other boats.

Boat insurance covers most vessels with engines or sails, but not all boat insurance covers “personal watercraft” like Jet Skis, wave jammers and WaveRunners.

Good news: At ERIE, we can cover outboard, inboard/outboard or inboard boats; sailboats; houseboats; and personal watercraft.*

Why do I need boat insurance?
It’s a reasonable question: If your state doesn’t require boat insurance, why should you get it?

The short answer: Financial security. If a covered accident happens and you have the proper insurance, you’re usually responsible for paying the deductible and insurance can cover the rest. But without insurance, you could get stuck paying out of pocket (or draining your savings) for the full cost of repairs to your boat (or someone else’s); legal costs; or even someone else’s medical bills. .

While your boat might be somewhat covered under your homeowners policy – more on that below – a separate boat insurance policy gives you more options for specialized protection. That includes increased physical damage limits, coverage under more situations (like collision while waterborne), and medical payments coverage.

In short: Boat insurance is specifically designed to protect your boat almost anywhere you go – over land, out in the water, and into storage. (And isn’t having adventures what owning a boat is all about?)

Is boat insurance required?
Some states require a boat to have liability coverage. Check with your ERIE agent to see if boat insurance is required in your state. Liability coverage can help pay for damages to someone else’s boat, dock or other property. (Medical payments coverage can also help to cover expenses from injuries, but it usually isn’t mandatory.)

Even if it isn’t mandatory in your state, many marinas require you to have boat insurance to dock your boat there. Additionally, if you take a loan out on your boat, banks often request you buy boat insurance.

Is my boat covered under my homeowners policy?
It might be. Of course, a separate boat insurance policy is designed to offer higher limits and more types of coverage, but your homeowners policy might have a few things already built in.

For physical damage: Some carriers limit the amount of coverage you can get under a homeowners policy, depending on the size or horsepower of your boat. An ERIE homeowners policy provides physical damage coverage for any watercraft up to $2,000. (Of course, many boats are worth more than $2,000, which is why a separate boat insurance policy is a smart investment for better protection.)

As for liability coverage: It varies by insurance carrier. Some homeowners policies don’t automatically cover liability for boats at all. Other times, you can add a small amount of liability coverage if you have a smaller or low-horsepower vessel.

An ERIE homeowners policy includes liability coverage for motored watercraft under 75 horsepower (for example, a small runabout) or for sailing vessels under 26 feet in length. You can also add watercraft liability coverage for up to four faster or longer vessels.

What types of insurance can I get for my boat?
Just like auto insurance, boat insurance can be customized to fit your specific needs and budget). The size, type, age and value of your boat – even where the boat is used – can determine the coverage that’s best for your vessel.

In general, most boat policies are designed to cover:

  • Bodily injuries sustained by you or someone else, resulting from the boat
  • Property damage to your boat – for example, theft or vandalism
  • Property damage by your boat – for example, damage to another boat if your boat causes an accident


Boat owners can choose a variety of coverages to protect boats, passengers and even permanently attached boating equipment. With ERIE, you’ll have a local, independent insurance agent to help you understand your options and feel good about how you’re protecting your investment.

Where is my boat covered?
Go ahead and explore. Erie Insurance’s boat insurance protects boaters anywhere in the continental United States, Washington D.C. and Canada, as well as the waters that stretch along the coastline.

Boat insurance also covers your vessel when it’s on shore or in tow.

Does boat insurance cover hurricane damages?
This can vary, depending on the specifics of your policy and what insurance company you’re working with.

Generally speaking, wind damage (including wind from hurricanes) is covered under standard homeowners and boat policies. Water-related damage, like flooding or storm surges, is calculated and insured differently. Ask your insurance agent to explain what your policy generally covers (and doesn’t cover) from hurricanes.

No matter what insurance company you’re working with, you’ll generally have to purchase boat insurance in advance to be covered during a hurricane. It varies by state, but in most places, state regulations prohibit anyone from purchasing insurance coverage (or changing their current coverage) at the last minute once a hurricane watch or warning is in effect.

If a hurricane or other severe conditions are in the forecast, stay out of the water and get your boat to a safe spot to weather the storm.

Am I covered in the winter?
While your boat is stored during the off season, you may wonder why you need coverage.  However, a lot can happen when a boat is in storage – including fire, theft or other damage – and a boat policy is a smart way to protect your investment year-round.

Ready to set sail? Find an ERIE agent in your neighborhood to get a personalized boat insurance quote.

*Coverage is subject to policy provisions. See individual policies for specific coverage details. Certain terms and limitations may apply. ERIE's Boat Protector Policy is not available in Kentucky. Refer to our disclaimer for additional information.

Warm sun. Cool breeze. If you have a boat, you get it: There’s nothing like being out on the water. /blog/boat-insurance Erie Insurance