I think everyone can agree that summer in Northeast Georgia can get very hot. Time on the lake is certainly enjoyed by many of us and for good reason. We have some of the most beautiful lakes right here in out back yard. Many of us enjoy the recreation that the lakes provide without even considering the personal risks we are taking. I myself have spent years enjoying time on the water, boating, jet-skiing, skiing, etc. I’ve certainly had my share of close calls and chances are if you’ve spent a little time on the water you have too. Whether it’s a close call in hurting someone else or damaging your property chances are somewhere down the road something is going to happen. That’s where your insurance comes in, basically when you insure your toys and yourself from a liability standpoint you are taking the risk off your back and placing it on the insurance carrier. Many people don’t realize what can come from an accident on the water. Below we’ll discuss some basic coverage info and what might come if you don’t have separate policies for your boats and jet-skis.
There are two main parts of your boat policy. The first is the physical damage to the boat itself. Many people are under the impression that their homeowner policy will extend coverage for their boats. With most homeowner policies this is NOT the case. Some homeowner policies might give a little coverage for small boats with limited horsepower but in today’s boating world many boats are much more than that. If a person purchases a basic run-about or midsize ski boat it’s easy to spend $20K to $40k or more by the time you get it to the water. If you have a loss on this type of boat you might as well count your losses because your homeowner policy is NOT going to respond. This is where your boat policy comes in. Boat policies can be written several different ways, most carriers write boats on an actual cash value basis but there are carriers who will offer replacement cost on boats that are three years old or newer. Many boating accidents don’t even occur on the water. Think about the amount of time your boat spends on the trailer getting to and from the lake. If you are in an auto accident and the boat is damaged, your auto carrier is not going to provide coverage for the boat. The boat policy will provide collision coverage and take care of the damage to the boat as long as it exceeds the deductible. In many cases you can save money by bundling your boat policy with the same carrier that handles your home and auto insurance. If you purchase a boat I would start by contacting your current agent to see if they offer coverage for boats.
The second and likely the most important piece of your boat policy is the liability. When you stop and think about it, a liability claim can be much more severe that a physical damage loss. If you have a $30K boat and it’s a total loss with no insurance, you’re out $30K. If you cause bodily injury to someone else while on the water you could be looking at a million $ lawsuit. As we stated earlier if you’ve spent time on the lake you know it can be dangerous, especially on the busy holiday weekends. The state of Georgia does not require you to carry liability insurance on your boat so the majority of boaters don’t carry it. As with the physical damage, many boaters are under the impression that their personal liability from the homeowner policy will cover them while on the water. Depending on the carrier, most companies limit liability coverage to boats with less than 25 or 50 horsepower. Most small to midsize run-abouts and fishing boats have at least 150 horsepower and many of the new ski boats have 350+ horsepower. That being said, most of the boats on the water are excluded from your personal liability under your homeowner policy. Your boat policy will provide in most cases up to 500,000 in liability and you can purchase an umbrella to extend over that as well. Your boat policy can also provide some uninsured boater coverage. In my opinion this is just as important as the liability coverage. With the high percentage of boaters not carrying liability, why would you want to give someone else coverage while not providing coverage for yourself and your family? For a fairly low premium you can add Uninsured boater coverage to you boat policy with limits equal to your liability. This would provide coverage for you and your family in the event that you are hit by a boater who does not have boat coverage.
In today’s world it’s so important to protect yourself and your assets. The old days of people taking responsibility for their actions are gone. Everyone is looking for someone else to blame. If you find yourself in a sticky situation on the water make sure you know you have yourself protected. If we at Jack Bradley Agency can help you with anything regarding your insurance coverage feel free to give us a call. Hope everyone has a safe and worry free summer on the water.
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