Questions To Ask About Your Boat Insurance

Tailoring your insurance policy to the way you actually use your boat can lower your costs or provide you with the coverage that you need.

For many of us, boat insurance is something that we pay for every year, but rarely take the time to examine or update. Taking a few minutes to review your current policy can pay off in the form of lower premiums or getting coverage that fits your use of the boat. This is particularly important if you have changed the way you boat, or if it has been a few years since you first purchased the policy. All of the specific tips mentioned below apply to Angler policies offered through BoatU.S., but may also apply elsewhere.

Have You Taken A Boating Safety Course? Safe boating has benefits beyond not becoming an accident statistic. Completing a safe boating course can earn you a 10 percent discount on your insurance premium. Take the BoatU.S. Foundation's Free Online Course at www.BoatUS.org

Have You Joined A New Group?: Membership in either the Coast Guard Auxiliary, or the United States Power Squadrons is rewarding in its own right, but if you've been on the fence, here's another reason to join: A 10 percent discount on your insurance. Are you a member of BASS, CCA, or a local fishing club? Clubs and organizations like CCA that participate in BoatU.S.'s co-op groups program can provide you with a discount on your BoatU.S. membership.

Where Do You Fish? BoatU.S. Angler policies cover you in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Make sure your policy covers you where you want to go and does not limit you to your local waters.

Have You Updated Your Hull Value? Many policies are based on an "agreed hull value," the specific dollar amount that you and your insurer agree your boat is worth at the time the policy is written. This is the amount that your insurer would pay you in the event of a total loss of your vessel (minus salvage costs if your policy doesn't cover them. See sidebar). But boats, like cars, depreciate over time. If it has been a few years since you first insured your boat, it may be worth looking into what it's currently worth. Lowering the agreed hull value will lower your insurance premium. Just remember to consider any outstanding balance on your boat loan as a minimum, regardless of the NADA or BUC book values.

Is Your Gear Covered? BoatU.S. Angler policies automatically include $5,000 dollars in coverage for your rods, reels, and tackle, and claims against this coverage are only subject to a $50 deductible, not the higher deductible for say, a damaged lower unit.

Are You Covered In A Tournament? Angler policies also specifically include liability coverage during a tournament. Other insurers may exclude liability during events, leaving you unprotected when you're working your boat hardest. Also, if you have a covered loss on the way to a tournament, or on the water during the event, Angler policies will also reimburse your entry fees, up to $500.

SIDEBAR
How Much Salvage Coverage Do I Have? Salvage coverage is an important component of your boat insurance policy, but not all salvage coverage is equal. Some policies will pay for the costs associated with salvaging your boat out of the agreed hull or actual cash value portion of your policy. This can effectively leave little or no money left over to pay you (or your bank) for the loss of your vessel. A more thorough policy will pay for salvage out of a separate coverage up to an amount equal to the agreed hull or actual cash value. A policy written this way will pay to salvage your boat, and pay to replace it.

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