BEFORE I SET SAIL, Do I need a separate insurance policy for my boat?

BEFORE I SET SAIL, Do I need a separate insurance policy for my boat?

Is my boat covered under my homeowners policy or do I need a separate policy?

Most homeowners policies provide liability insurance for smaller motorboats with outboard motors of 25 horsepower or less and for sailboats under 26 feet long. There typically is $1,500 coverage for damage to the boat for specified perils. However, theft and windstorm are limited and sinking is not covered at all.

What type of policy is best?

Boat owners are served well by a policy specifically designed to insure watercraft, offering all-risk coverage for the boat's full value. A boat owners policy provides the necessary liability, hull and motor coverage.
The policies follow the format of personal auto policies; however, they vary from company to company much more than auto policies do because they are written on nonstandardized policies.

What should I be on the lookout for when I select a policy or check my existing coverage?

  • Limits of navigation, or where the boat can go and still be protected by the insurance policy;
  • provisions for insuring sails, spars and other property on the boat;
  • permissive users of the boat;
  • exclusions for how it is used (e.g., commercial, parasailing, racing, etc.);
  • all-risk vs. named perils; and
  • be certain the personal umbrella policy will include an underlying boat policy.

Do you have any other advice?

Consult our agency to determine what type of insurance best meets your needs. Read and make sure you understand your policy.

Periodically review your coverage with us and be sure that your craft is registered properly. In addition, be certain to follow all laws of boat navigation, including laws regarding drinking and boating, which are available from the U.S. Coast Guard and your local law enforcement agencies.

Is it illegal to drink alcohol while boating?

It is against federal law for a recreational boat operator to have a blood alcohol content higher than .08 percent, and for other vessel operators to have a BAC of more than .04 percent. State laws apply for boaters in waters within state geographical boundaries.

What is the law in Connecticut?

Connecticut law prohibits the operation of a boat while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs (with a BAC of .08 or more). A first-degree offender (one who causes death or serious injury or more than $2,000 in property damage) faces a fine of $500-$1,000 and/or up to one year in jail. A second-degree offender (one who operates a vessel so as to endanger life, limb or property of another person) faces a $500-$1,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail.

Is boating while intoxicated a widespread problem?

Federal Department of Transportation statistics show that nearly 700 boating fatalities occur in our nation each year. Alcohol is reported officially as a factor in about 21 percent of those deaths, although experts suspect the number is much higher. For more information, boaters are encouraged to call Connecticut's Environmental Protection Agency's Boating Safety Division at (860) 434-8638.

The Russell Agency is a full service independent insurance agency serving Southport, Fairfield, Westport and surrounding towns in Fairfield County and New Haven County, and all of Connecticut.

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