Best Boat Insurance

Be prepared for anything before you head out on the water

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Boating accidents are more common than most people realize. The United States Coast Guard counted 4,145 boating accidents in 2018 alone, which resulted in a massive $46 million of property damage and 633 fatalities. You can never predict when accidents will strike, but you can prepare yourself for any possible catastrophe by purchasing the best boat insurance for your needs.

We evaluated boat insurance policies from more than 20 nationally recognized brands to help you determine who offers the best boat insurance your money can buy before you head out on the water this summer. After our careful analysis, we selected five companies that offer the best boat insurance.

Best Boat Insurance

Provider Best For
Allstate Best Overall Boat Insurance
Progressive Best for Cheap Boat Insurance
Nationwide Best for Bundling Policies
Foremost Best Variety of Coverage
Markel Best for Fishermen

Best Overall: Allstate

Allstate
Pros
  • Rates starting at around $21 per month

  • Great coverage including many extras

Cons
  • Limited info on restrictions and exclusions to coverage

Coverage

Allstate offers a very comprehensive lineup of options for boat coverage, including:

  • Watercraft liability coverage
  • Property coverage
  • Repair costs
  • Medical payments
  • Uninsured watercraft coverage
  • Additional equipment and personal effects
  • Trailer coverage
  • Emergency services (such as towing, labor, and fuel, oil, and battery delivery)
  • Agreed value

Discounts

Even though Allstate offers boat coverage starting at about $21 per month, it doesn’t shy away from discounts. You may qualify for the following when you insure your boat with Allstate:

  • Multiple Policy Discount – Up to 20% off when you combine your boat insurance with an Allstate homeowners policy
  • Full-Pay Discount – 10% off for paying your full premium upfront
  • Homeownership Discount – 10% off for owning a home
  • Boat Education Discount – 5% off when you take an approved boater safety class
  • Easy Pay Plan Discount – 5% off when you enroll in automatic payments

Limitations

Unlike other insurance companies, Allstate places very few limitations on its boat coverage. However, some types of coverage and discounts are not to be had in all states, so it’s best to contact a local Allstate agent to verify the availability of coverage and discounts before switching over to Allstate for your boat insurance.

Additional Perks

Allstate offers the best of both worlds to its customers: local agents to help you with your insurance needs, as well as online tools and an 800 number to get questions answered anytime.

Allstate’s website also has a lot of information and resources for boaters, which can be especially helpful to new boaters or those with limited experience in owning a boat. The company offers videos and infographics as well as articles on boat maintenance, dealing with accidents and other marine emergencies, and handling your boat and boat insurance during the offseason.

Progressive: Best for Cheap Boat Insurance

Progressive
Pros
  • Great rates and lots of available discounts

  • Wide array of coverage

Cons
  • Restrictions on types of boats covered

  • Strict coverage limitations in areas with hurricane risk

Coverage

As expected from one of the industry leaders in personal property insurance, Progressive offers all of the major coverage expected and more, including:

  • Bodily injury and property damage liability
  • Comprehensive coverage
  • Collision coverage
  • Uninsured/underinsured boater (UB/UIB)
  • Medical payments
  • Propulsion plus mechanical breakdown coverage
  • Sign and glide on-water towing
  • Fishing equipment or carry-on items
  • Water sports injury coverage
  • Fuel spills and wreckage removal
  • Roadside assistance and trip interruption (if you elect trailer coverage)
  • Full replacement cost

Discounts

You can potentially save even more with Progressive by qualifying for some of the following discounts:

  • Advanced Quote Discount – For those who obtain a quote and sign up for coverage at least 24 hours before you want it to go into effect
  • Transfer Discount – For those who move their boat to Progressive from another company
  • Multiple Policy Discount – For those who maintain multiple types of insurance with Progressive (car, boat, motorcycle, homeowners, etc)
  • Association Discounts – For those who are members of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadron, or USAA
  • Original Owner Discount – If you’re the original owner of your boat
  • Responsible Driver Discount – For boaters who remain accident free on the water for at least three years
  • Prompt Payment Discount – For always paying on time
  • Pay-in-Full Discount – For paying your entire premium upfront

Additionally, Progressive offers these perks that help customers save on their boat insurance over time:

  • Small Accident Forgiveness – This prevents your rates from increasing if you end up in a boating accident with a claim under $500.
  • Large Accident Forgiveness – This prevents your rates from increasing after an accident if you’ve previously remained accident free for three years.
  • Disappearing Deductible – Your deductible lowers by 25% for each period you remain claim free until it finally reaches zero.

Limitations

Progressive boat insurance is only available for boats up to 50 feet in length, and in some states that experience higher hurricane risks, the limitations are 35 feet and $175,000 in value.

Progressive also places some age and value restrictions on the boats it covers, including:

  • Boats up to 10 years old and worth $350,000 or less
  • Boats that are 11 to 20 years old and worth up to $250,000
  • Boats that are more than 20 years old but worth less than $40,000
  • Boats used as a primary residence
  • Houseboats that do not have motors
  • Homemade boats without a hull identification number
  • Boats with more than two owners
  • Boats with steel or wood hulls
  • All amphibious land boats, hovercraft, and airboats
  • PWCs worth more than $27,000
  • Boats that do not meet published U.S. Coast Guard standards

If you aren’t sure if your boat fits into Progressive’s coverage requirements, you should contact Progressive over the phone to ask clarification questions and obtain a quote.

Additional Perks

Other companies place restrictions on where you can use your boat, but Progressive gives you the freedom to sail wherever you’d like on any lake or river in the United States, as well as in ocean waters within 75 miles of the coast.

Progressive also waives some requirements that other companies force on customers, such as navigation plans and marine surveys. These requirements often cost customers hundreds of dollars, which means you save even more by using Progressive.

Finally, Progressive offers a variety of online tools and features, including the Name Your Price Tool and a mobile app. These help travelers access their plans and make changes anytime from anywhere within the United States.

Nationwide: Best for Policy Bundling

Nationwide
Pros
  • Discount of up to 25% for those who bundle boat insurance and at least one other policy with Nationwide

  • Boat insurance packages to help customers save money

Cons
  • Not all coverages and discounts available in all states

  • Can’t manage boat policy on the mobile app

Coverage

Nationwide offers lots of options for boat insurance coverage, including:

  • Bodily injury and property damage liability
  • Collision coverage
  • Comprehensive coverage
  • Uninsured/underinsured boater
  • Medical payments coverage
  • Roadside assistance (for boats and trailers)
  • On-water boat towing and labor
  • Fishing equipment insurance
  • Personal effects insurance

Furthermore, there may be additional savings on your boat insurance when you select one of Nationwide’s boat insurance packages. The company offers a wide range of packages for different types of boaters, such as:

  • Weekenders – For those who simply take gear onto their boat and remove it when they’re done, Nationwide offers an affordable package that includes up to $1,000 for fishing equipment, $3,000 for personal effects, and $500 for towing.
  • Overnighters – For those who take short boating trips, Nationwide offers up to $2,500 for fishing equipment, $5,000 for personal effects, and $2,500 for towing.
  • Light Tackle Anglers – For customers who own a bass boat or smaller fishing boat, Nationwide offers up to $5,000 for fishing equipment, $2,000 for personal effects, and $2,500 for towing.
  • Deep Water Pros – For those who fish big waters, gulfs, bays, and oceans, Nationwide offers up to $10,000 for fishing equipment, $5,000 for personal effects, and $2,500 for towing.

Discounts

The best way to save with Nationwide is by bundling your insurance policies with it. According to comparison site Insurance.com, you can save up to 25% by bundling multiple policies with Nationwide.

In general, Nationwide offers these discounts to people who insure boats:

  • Multiple Policy and Multiple Boat Discounts – For those who combine home, boat, vehicle, and/or life insurance policies
  • Boater Safety Course Discount – For those who complete an approved water safety course
  • Diesel Fuel Discount – For those who own a diesel-powered boat
  • Paid-in-full Discount – For those who pay their 12-month premium upfront
  • Claims-Free Renewal Discount – For those who are claim free during the previous year

Limitations

Although Nationwide doesn’t specifically list limitations on where you can obtain its boat insurance, the company does stress that not all products and discounts are available in all states. Contact a local Nationwide agent or use the company’s website to obtain a quote before switching your boat coverage over to Nationwide.

Additional Perks

Nationwide offers a digital experience through its website and mobile app. On the website you can take advantage of resources as well as manage your policy through the company’s customer portal. Unfortunately, the mobile app is currently restricted to auto insurance, though Nationwide plans to expand it in the near future.

Foremost: Best Variety of Coverage

Foremost
Pros
  • Variety of packages and coverage options

  • Several great discounts

Cons
  • Limitations on who can receive coverage

  • No mobile app

Coverage

When it comes to coverage, Foremost offers many standard coverage options, including:

  • Watercraft physical damage
  • Personal liability
  • Uninsured watercraft
  • Medical payments
  • Towing and roadside assistance
  • Trailer
  • Personal property

Furthermore, Foremost offers numerous packages that let boaters customize the coverage they receive. These include:

  • Saver Package – The most affordable package includes cash value settlements in case of a total loss
  • Plus Package – Includes all of the basic coverage plus agreed value/total loss replacement cost settlement, watersports liability, diminishing deductible, depreciation deferral, and hurricane haul-out
  • Elite Package – Offers the most coverage possible, with perks such as boat lift/hoist/cradle coverage, fishing tournament fee reimbursement, pet insurance, trip interruption coverage, enhanced towing services, Bahamas and Mexico navigation coverage, extended total loss replacement, and depreciation deferral
  • Pontoon and Pontoon Elite Packages – For the specific needs of pontoon boats
  • Classic and Classic Elite Packages – For boats more than 25 years old
  • Performance and Performance Elite Packages – For speedboats that reach speeds over 75 MPH.
  • Personal Watercraft Insurance – With features specifically tailored for personal watercraft

Discounts

Foremost’s discounts include:

  • Lay-Up Discount – For those who store their boat for at least three months each year
  • Paid-in-Full Discount – For those who pay their entire coverage period upfront
  • Boating Safety Course Discount – For those who complete an approved safety course or obtain a marine license
  • Protective Device Discount – For those with boats that contain safety features (such as automatic fire extinguishing equipment, monitoring systems, an alarm system, a no-strike lightning system, a theft recovery system, dock assist, NMMA certification and/or a PWC brake system)
  • Multiple Policy Discount – For those who hold more than one policy through Foremost or its partner companies (Farmers, Bristol West, or 21st Century)
  • Multiple Unit Discount – For those who insure more than one boat
  • Loss Free Renewal Discount – For those who go three or more years without claims
  • Insured Age Discount – For those 55 or older
  • Affinity and Alliance Discount – For members of approved organizations

Limitations

Although Foremost boat insurance is available in all 50 states, coverage and coverage amounts may vary by state. Furthermore, Foremost will not insure boaters who fall into the high-risk driver category, and it also limits and denies coverage based on credit scores, meaning that it may not be the best option for those with poor credit.

Additional Perks

Foremost doesn’t offer a lot of perks (for example, there’s no mobile app), but the numerous coverage packages and discounts make it a viable choice if you want to have the ability to customize your coverage.

Markel: Best for Fishermen

Markel
Pros
  • Expansive coverage for fishing equipment

  • Discounts including a vanishing deductible

Cons
  • No options to bundle with homeowners or car insurance

  • Not available in all states

Coverage

Markel offers boat insurance starting at just $100 per year depending on what coverage you need. Whether you’re a professional fisher or just enjoy fishing for fun, Markel offers lots of coverage, including for:

  • Watercraft liability
  • Medical payments
  • Agreed value watercraft and equipment
  • Emergency towing
  • Personal effects
  • Uninsured/underinsured boater
  • Pollution liability
  • Replacement cost settlement
  • Boat lift
  • Trailer
  • Fishing equipment
  • Professional angler liability
  • Tournament fee reimbursement
  • Crash damage
  • Theft
  • Theft away from home
  • Wreck removal

Discounts

Although Markel doesn’t offer some of the discounts that larger insurance companies do, you can still save money through these discounts for:

  • Multiple boats
  • Outboard propulsion
  • Age (when the primary operator is 40 or older)
  • Diesel engines
  • Experienced boaters (for those with five or more years of boating experience)
  • Being accident free (a vanishing deductible program decreases your deductible for every year that you remain accident free until it hits zero)

Limitations

Markel operates in all states except Massachusetts and North Carolina, but not all coverage types are available in all geographic locations. Therefore, you should consult with a Markel customer service representative to see what boat insurance is available for you.

Additionally, Markel does not currently offer a smartphone app.

Additional Perks

Although Markel boat insurance comes with a few limitations, there are some significant perks. For starters, the vanishing deductible program is one discount option that not all companies provide. Furthermore, Markel is the only company we found that offers discounts for boaters over the age of 40, which can help older people who fish for fun save money.

The most notable perk with Markel, though, is the large amount of coverages it has as standard policy. For example, the professional fisherman policy provides replacement cost coverage for fishing equipment up to $5,000 and personal items up to $1,000, in addition to covering the boat itself. These coverage options make Markel a standout pick for anyone who uses their boat for fishing in any capacity.

Do I Need to Have Boat Insurance?

Although boat insurance is only legally required in two states (Utah and Arkansas), you shouldn’t go without it in most cases. If you end up in an accident or stranded out in the ocean somewhere, you’ll be glad you have it.

It’s recommended that you obtain boat insurance if you own one of the following types of boats:

  • Yachts
  • Large sailboats
  • Jet boats
  • Personal watercraft (such as WaveRunners)
  • Motorboats (anything that runs faster than 25 mph)

Inversely, if you’re just using a canoe, a small-engine boat, or an inexpensive boat worth less than $1,000, you may not need boat insurance.

What Does Boat Insurance Cover?

At first glance coverage for your boat may look and sound a lot like auto insurance coverage. This makes sense given that a boat is basically a car that you drive in the water.

Bodily Injury Liability

Just like your car insurance policy, your boat insurance will cover costs associated with injuries you may cause others, such as medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Property Damage Liability

Just as car insurance covers property damage to other vehicles and stationary objects, boat insurance also covers damage to docks and other boats.

Collision Coverage

Collision coverage is usually an optional coverage for cars, and it’s the same for boats. This type of insurance covers repairs and replacement of your own boat in the event of an accident. As with any other policy, though, always read the fine print on collision coverage; not all insurance providers will cover your boat if it sinks.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive coverage protects your boat against all non-accident-related damage to your boats, such as theft, vandalism, and other potential hazards.

Umbrella Coverage

In most cases, your insurance company will only insure your boat if you or other listed drivers on your policy are driving the boat. However, the exception to this rule is an umbrella policy. If you obtain this type of coverage, any driver is covered unless they are specifically excluded from the policy.

Additional Types of Coverage

Depending on the insurance company and the policy you select, you may also receive coverage for:

  • Medical payments
  • Roadside assistance
  • Wreckage removal
  • Watersports
  • Fuel spills
  • Carry-on Items
  • Fishing equipment
  • Trip interruption
  • Uninsured boater
  • Trailers
  • Towing (both for the boat on a trailer and in the water)

What Should I Look for When Shopping for Boat Insurance?

There are many factors to consider when shopping for boat insurance. For starters, you’ll need to decide if you want a policy that uses an agreed value policy or an actual cash value (ACV) policy. ACV policies are typically cheaper, but they provide less payout in the event of a total loss.

Furthermore, you’ll want to look for exclusions and restrictions to boat coverage. For example, some companies will only insure boats up to a certain size, whereas others will not insure boats used for commercial purposes. Knowing the specifics of your boat and what you’ll use it for can really help you find the best policy to fit your needs.

Once you find several companies that will cover your boat, read the entire list of standard coverage inclusions and compare. Where one company may offer towing as a standard feature, another company may only offer it if you pay an extra monthly fee. Noting these small differences could really save you money.

Finally, consider a company’s reputation and the attention it gives to its boat insurance. Some specialty insurance companies focus solely on coverage for boats and other recreational vehicles, while other companies just offer boat insurance as an extra to attract more customers. Noting this can help you get the best coverage from experts who know what they’re doing when it comes to boats.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover My Boat?

Although some homeowners insurance policies cover boats, these typically come with several limitations. In most cases homeowners policies treat your boat like any other household possession (i.e. a television or couch), meaning that your policy will only cover the boat up to a certain value (10% of your home’s insured value in most cases). What’s more, liability insurance for your boat isn’t typically included under your homeowner's insurance. This means you’d be out any liability or injury costs in the event of a boating accident.

The Bottom Line

Boat insurance protects one of your most expensive possessions and gives you peace of mind when out on the water. When selecting a policy, don’t forget to compare all the fine print and see which companies offer the best discounts and other perks to help you get the most bang for your buck.

Methodology

When selecting the best boat insurance providers, we compared policies and discounts for more than 20 nationally recognized insurance companies that offer boat policies. We also looked at each company’s financial strength, customer satisfaction ratings, and reviews. We feel confident that our evaluations provide a useful guide to help you select a boat insurance company, but we always encourage you to shop around and compare quotes before signing on the dotted line for any insurance policy.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. United States Coast Guard. “2018 Recreational Boating Statistics.” Page 6. Accessed July 25, 2020.