Do You Need Insurance for a Boat Rental?

If you’re planning on enjoying a seaside or maritime adventure, it’s wise to think about the insurance ramifications. Renting a boat, whether it’s a sailboat or a fishing boat, does have insurance implications. But they might not be the ones you’re thinking of. As a rule of thumb, you do not need to purchase special insurance if you are going to rent a boat. In general, the official owner of the boat (the rental company) will have its own private insurance that will cover the craft.

But from there, it can get much more complicated. This is not a situation like renting a car. While most of us have auto insurance that will cover an accident in a car, the situation isn’t the same with boats. Your auto insurance won’t cover you in a boat. Chances are, it won’t be necessary, as the boat owner should have insurance to cover the vessel.

Consumer tips

Still, the process of renting a boat – especially for first-timers – can be a bit confusing. Be sure you’re aware of your rights and responsibilities before you take the water. And, enjoy your trip!

  • Above all, it’s important to understand the world of insurance. The American Insurance Association offers an Insurance 101 primer that can help you further understand the insurance industry, the way insurance policies are written, and the issues consumers should be aware of when it comes to insurance. This will help you not only for this instance, but for questions you may have about auto, home or renters insurance.

  • Be sure to read your rental agreement. You may be charged a fee to cover insurance – which is well within the rights of the rental company. Or, you could be charged a deposit. Take a few minutes to read the paperwork before you sign. If there is no documentation about insurance, ask first. Don’t assume, one way or another, that there is coverage.

  • If you decide to purchase a boat in the future, you will need special boat insurance. Most auto insurers can provide rates for boat insurance.

  • Call your insurance company and find out what coverage your homeowners or renter’s policy will extend in the event of a boating accident. Even if the boat rental company has insurance, it might not cover your injuries or property loss.

  • Even if the boat rental company has insurance, you might be responsible for a hefty deductible. Check with your existing insurance company to find out if your policy will cover this deductible through a special rider – otherwise you could be at risk for a hefty out-of-pocket expense.

  • If you suffer an injury in a rented boat, you may be able to fight the owner’s insurance company, but be prepared for a battle. Sometimes these claims take years to settle and you may need representation from an attorney.

  • Boat owners have extensive protection in this regard thanks to an 1851 law called the “Limitation of Liability Act.” As a result of this law, the liability of a boat owner is strictly limited for any accidents related to a boat or maritime vessel. The law even extends to jet skis and other “pleasure craft.”

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Do You Need Boat Rental Insurance?

Rental boats are usually insured for liability by the rental company. However, renters may still be liable for damages and boat insurance deductibles in some cases. Read on to find out if you should buy insurance for your boat rental.

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