Is Boat Insurance Required in California?

by Kanopy Insurance


Boat insurance in California, just like the Loch Ness Monster, is so mysterious to Californians yet an ingenious insurance plan to have for those oh-no-you-didn't moments.

If you have a boat in California, more family, friends — and random friends of friends — are going join you. Boat insurance protects you, your boat, and your passengers.

But is boat insurance really required in California?

In this article, we’ll break it all down for you. We’ll go through the questions that should ask yourself before purchasing boat insurance and explain why boat insurance is actually great for California residents.

Let’s go! 🛥️

Boating is much more than just a favorite pastime. lists several ways that boating also promotes good health. These include absorbing vitamin D from the sun, distressing as you unplug from cell phones and laptops, and creating bonds with the family and friends who accompany you on your exciting adventure at sea. Of course, purchasing a boat is a big investment, and you'll want to make sure that this investment is protected with boat insurance.


Is Boat Insurance Required in California?

While the state of California does not currently require boat owners to purchase insurance, a lender can. If you opt to finance your water vessel, the lender will most likely make buying insurance mandatory.

The reason for this is the same as any home or auto insurance purchase. If something were to happen to your boat before it was paid off, the lending institution would have no collateral to ensure they received a return on their investment. The boat insurance policy gives them that collateral.

Here's a breakdown of what types of watercrafts should get boat insurance:

Yes No
  • Jet ski
  • Fishing boat
  • Sailboat
  • Pontoon
  • Yacht
  • Canoe
  • Kayak
  • Paddleboard
  • Smaller boats without an engine


6 Things to Know About Boat Insurance in California

Before you go shopping for boat insurance, there are a few frequently asked questions you'll want to review. This will aid you in selecting the best policy to fit your boating needs.

1. How much does boat insurance cost in California?

The average boat insurance rates are 1.5% of the boat's insured value. For example, if your boat costs $20,000, your boat insurance will cost around $300.

Several factors are used in determining your boat insurance quote. These include how old the boat is and how long you've owned it, the boat's current value, whether you plan on taking the boat out on a lake or in the ocean, and what type of boat you have.

You can also obtain discounts for having taken a boater safety course, or opting for a lay-up period during the winter months when you have no plans on taking your watercraft out for a spin.

2. What does boat insurance cover in California?

You'll be pleasantly surprised by your boat insurance coverage in California. Companies first cover liability, such as any harm that comes to an individual while they are on your boat. Liability also encompasses any damage that your boat causes to another watercraft during a collision.

Next, the policy will cover damage to the boat itself, which is sometimes referred to as hull insurance. This includes destruction to any of the boat's attached equipment, as well as any harm the boat suffered as a result of a lightning storm.

3. Does homeowner's insurance cover my boat?

The answer to the question "Does my homeowner's insurance cover my boat" is both yes and no. If you store your boat on the same property where your home resides, then the homeowner's policy will cover any damages that occur to the boat while it is parked in your yard. Once you leave your property, however, the boat is no longer covered under that policy.

Obtaining boat insurance is the only way to protect your investment, whether it is on land or in the water. Is my boat covered when it's out of the water? Most boat insurance policies contain property coverage, which does protect your watercraft on land.

One example would be if you were hauling your boat from one location to another and experienced an accident where the other party was at fault. Of course, in circumstances where you are deemed to be at fault, your auto insurance policy takes over.

4. What types of boat insurance are there?

Boat insurance is not one-size-fits-all. There are a variety of plans that depend on the type of watercraft you own and where that watercraft's engine is located.

Inboard boats have their engines in the middle of the vehicle, while outboard boats feature outboard motors that are usually located at the back end of the ship.

Sailboats use the wind to get their power, while personal watercraft vehicles have engines underneath their seats.

There are even combination inboard/outboard boats, so be sure to check that you are receiving quotes for the particular type of boat that you plan to purchase.

5. Will I need additional coverage?

Although boat insurance policies are designed to provide you with maximum coverage, there are instances when you'll want to purchase additional coverage.

Boat trailer coverage is needed for when you transport your watercraft. You may want to include valuable equipment, such as your fishing gear or a top-notch navigational system.

Also, if you are not using the boat solely for recreational purposes, a traditional policy will not be enough. Extra coverage is usually required for boats that are operating for business purposes, as well as for watercraft that is large enough to accommodate a crew.

Why You Need Boat Insurance in California

Mitigating risk and protecting your investment are the most important reasons to obtain boat insurance in the state of California. The National Marine Manufacturers Association reported that California saw $576.3 million in boat sales at the close of 2015, which was 5.4 percent higher than the previous year. The association also predicts this number to continue increasing through 2018.

When spending your hard earned money on a vehicle that can bring rest for you and your family, you're going to want to safeguard this valuable asset. Should anything go wrong down the road, you'll have a way to repair or replace it so that you can go on enjoying life's many adventures.

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