We're still a few months away from boating season, but soon nearly 17 million boat owners and 1.6 million personal watercraft owners will be having fun on the water. Unfortunately, many don't have the right insurance in place, and risk running into rough waters ahead. Are you covered?
"Whether you own a pontoon, deck boat or a personal watercraft, it's smart to review your insurance coverage with a trusted independent agent to determine if you need additional coverage," says Mark Desrochers, president of Personal Lines at The Hanover Insurance Group. "Taking the time to talk with an independent agent also will offer peace of mind that the right protection is in place if something goes wrong."
Do you have coverage when your vessel is off-the-water? Watercraft owners also need to consider coverage for their boats and trailers while parked at home. An existing homeowners policy may provide a measure of coverage, but it's likely to be limited and may not apply at all for damages while stored at your home. Other risks such as theft and vandalism also need to be considered.
Are you in compliance with what your state requires? State insurance requirements for boats and personal watercraft vary, so it's important to understand local requirements. In some places boat insurance may not be mandatory, so coverage for losses caused by uninsured boaters may be wise.
Have you taken inventory? As with a home inventory, boat owners may be well served by documenting the vessel. For example, it is a good idea to take pictures and/or video of the boat and to store these items in a place other than your home. A written description can further document the boat, supplemented by model and serial numbers of key mechanical and electronic items.
Is your watercraft's value assessed correctly? Another policy consideration is whether the boat is covered at an "agreed value" or "market value" in the event of a total loss. Agreed value is more commonly applied to newer boats, while market value is generally the basis for settling the loss of older vessels. So if you had agreed value when your boat was new, but you have had it on the water for several years, you may be over-paying.
Have you considered a bundled package? There may be a financial advantage to obtaining insurance for your boat or personal watercraft from the same company that insures your auto and home. More insurance companies are offering discounts when a customer maintains multiple policies with the same company.
Does an umbrella policy make sense? Boat owners may be advised to consider an umbrella policy to deal with potential loss events that exceed policy limits of the boat insurance and put their personal assets at risk.
The Hanover Insurance Group, based in Worcester, Mass., is the holding company for a group of insurers that includes The Hanover Insurance Company, also based in Worcester; Citizens Insurance Company of America, headquartered in Howell, Mich.; and their affiliates. For a list of independent agents in your local area, visit the "Find an Agent" section at www.hanover.com.