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Agent Bill Lawson shares boat insurance basics

Bill Lawson • May 28, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Did you know that boat insurance is one of

the earliest known forms of insurance? Ancient sailors knew firsthand about the

risks of a life at sea and sought to insure their vessels against unpredictable

waters. Insuring your recreational boat will help give you peace of mind whenever

and wherever you cast off.

Boat insurance policies can vary widely in what they do and do not cover based on a number of considerations, including the type of boat, the waters it will traffic, and how many months of the year the boat will be used. Still, there are a few basic kinds of coverage you can expect to receive, as well as some potential discounts for safe boaters.

Physical Damage

This coverage insures your boat against

damage and loss caused by common risks, such as sinking, fire, storms, theft

and collision. The property covered can vary, but the policy will usually cover

the hull and other permanent components, such as:* Motors* Extra fuel tanks, batteries, etc.* Anchors* Onboard safety equipment, such as floatation devices and fire extinguishers

A trailer may or may not be covered, depending on the policy.

When choosing your policy, be sure to ask whether you will be insured for the boat's replacement cost or its actual cash value. A replacement cost policy will reimburse you the cost of repairing the boat to its original condition or replacing the boat with the same or a similar model. A policy based on actual cash value will reimburse you for the current market value of the repair or replacement (the original price minus depreciation).

Liability Coverage

This coverage applies if your boat causes injury to others or damage to other boats, docks, or structures. Keep in mind that the injury or damage can be due to direct contact with your vessel or situations caused by your vessel, such as large wakes. Good liability coverage may provide protection against lawsuits, including the payment of settlements and legal fees.

Other Coverage

Your insurer may offer additional kinds of coverage to go with your basic boat insurance. If you have other needs, as your insurance agent what coverage is available.


The best way to lower your boat insurance premium is to become a safer boater. For example, many insurers offer discounts to boaters who have completed an approved boating safety course. Your boat may also qualify for a discount by passing the U.S. Coast Guard vessel check.

Bill Lawson is a local State Farm agent. His office is located at 4227 Fort Henry Drive, Suite B, in Kingsport. His business hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and at other times by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call the office at 423-239-9429.

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