Do You Need Boat Insurance in Florida?

From basking in the sun’s warmth to the cool, salty breeze touching your skin, almost nothing compares to boating in Florida waters. Every moment you spend in your boat is a memory you’ll cherish. This makes every penny of your investment worth it. And having the appropriate boat insurance coverage can ensure you’ll cruise on without any worries. Do you need boat insurance in Florida?

You do not need boat insurance in Florida. Nevertheless, you will still need to title and register your boat with the state. You’ll also need an identification card for boating safety, as well as equip your vessel with safety equipment.

Although Florida law does not mandate boat insurance, if you have a claim on a vessel, you may still need to buy a policy. Your bank or the marina will also require you to obtain coverage if you’re planning to get a loan for your boat.

Your boat loan will not get approval without first providing your bank a proof of insurance covering your vessel’s full value in case of loss. Besides, the waterways of Florida is a busy one. And the state is also always at risk of storms and hurricanes, thus, the potential damage costs, are quite high. 

Boating Accidents in Florida

Florida is the leading state in the country in terms of the most number of recreational boats registered. It also leads in terms of boating accidents involving damages that cost at least $2,000.

According to a 2009 statistic by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, collision with a fixed object is the leading cause of 620 reported boating accidents that year. These collisions involved 26 swimmers and 822 vessels.

On the other hand, accidents involving another ship took second place. The statistics also show that open powerboats were the ones mostly involved in these accidents. It is followed by cabin cruisers and personal watercraft. 

Do You Need Boat Insurance in Florida?

Do You Need Boat Insurance in Florida? It’s not mandatory to obtain boat insurance in Florida. It is not a requirement by law to operate or own a boat. But, if you’re planning to use your vessel as loan collateral, the lender will often require you to have an insurance policy to cover any damages to your boat. 

Florida marinas also often require boat insurance. This means you need to present proof of liability coverage in the event of damages or injuries to others. However, even if it’s not a requirement, it is ideal to consider buying boat insurance in Florida if you own a motorized vessel that costs more than $1,000.

The policy will typically cover the following:

  • Damage coverage to your yacht or personal property, subject to a deductible. This includes any damage incurred in the trailer or on the water.
  • Liability coverage in the event of damage to others.
  • Medical payments for any injuries you or a passenger sustains.
  • If you obtain any injuries or if your boat obtains damages from an uninsured vessel.
  • Coverage for towing services in the event you get stranded, and your boat requires towing to a nearby port.

All boat insurance policies are restricted to a specific navigational territory, wherein you will not have coverage if you’re outside of it. So if you’ll take your vessel outside of Florida, say somewhere in the Bahamas, you will not get coverage unless you’ve obtained approval on extending your navigational area.

Florida boat policies have two forms:

  • Named Perils. Only those named or stated in the policy are covered.
  • All-Perils. The coverage of this policy is more comprehensive, which includes damage by any cause unless stated otherwise.

See the below video on why boat insurance is important for peace of mind:

What Are the Deductibles?

All insurance policies have physical damage deductibles that may either be a specific dollar value or percentage of the value of your yacht. Also, depending on what kind of vessel you have, a separate deductible may be applied. 

Additionally, check if the insurance policy of your ship includes a named-storm or hurricane deductible. The state of Florida has a high risk of tropical storms and hurricanes. Insurance companies usually add this deductible, which can go as high as 10% of the value of your vessel.

Florida Boat Legal Requirements 

Insurance is not a legal requirement in Florida, but there are other requirements. Every Florida boat owner needs to title and register their recreational vessel except for the following:

  • Any boat without a motor or under 16 ft long like rowboats and small sailboats
  • Any length of rowing shells
  • Kayaks
  • Canoes

Your registration will be issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles through the tax collectors of the county. You also don’t need to provide insurance proof, unlike car registrations.

How Much Does Boat Insurance Cost in Florida?

The average cost of boat insurance will set you off a few hundred bucks. However, it can also run more than $1,000 annually depending on what type of boat you have as well as your profile. Factors such as boat type, length, and how you’ll use it will play a significant role in determining your insurance rate. So there will be a massive difference in what you’ll pay whether you own a yacht, speed boat, or a small fishing vessel. 

Generally, boat insurance on average costs between $300 to $500. But in Florida, it’s usually higher since most boaters here use their vessels all year long.

Additionally, a lot of ships go far off coast instead of staying within inland areas, resulting in higher insurance rates. These areas are more inclined to hurricanes. Thus, insurers in Florida will most likely offer you higher policies or quotes combined with more extensive deductibles.

See the below video to learn some other insight into Florida boat insurance:

Factors That Will Affect the Cost of Your Boat Insurance

Several factors will impact the rate of your boat insurance. Some you can control, while some you can’t. These include the following:

  • How you’ll use your boat
  • Your record of driving a motor vehicle
  • If you have numerous boat insurance claim record
  • Your age and gender
  • Boating experience of other individuals that will drive your ship
  • Your vessel’s horsepower
  • Safety measures you’ve taken such as if you’ve undergone a certified safety course training
  • The specifications of your ship
  • Region of the country which will determine if you’ll set sail in areas prone to hurricanes and other natural hazards
  • Your credit rating or score

Another thing that will affect how much you’ll pay for your boat insurance in Florida is whether you only spend a few months in the state each year or if you’re a full-time resident. There are regions like South Florida where theft is rampant. And if you don’t monitor or use your boat regularly, it is considered to be high risk.

Also, you need to ensure your insurance company that in case of hurricanes or other events that may cause damage to your vessel, you’ll be available to move it to a safer address or area as quickly as possible.

How Can I Get a Cheaper Insurance Rate?

There are several ways on how you can get cheaper boat insurance quotes in Florida:

  • Consider getting a newer boat, if you’re currently in the market for one. Older vessels usually come with higher insurance rates.
  • If your budget can afford it, you may want to consider a higher hull deductible to lower rates.
  • Florida insurance companies often offer a discount on sailboats with an added auxiliary motor for emergencies.
  • Taking a certified boating safety training course may also get you a boat insurance discount.
  • Typically, boats used less often are deemed lower risk by insurers, so make sure to inform them if you’ll only use your vessel occasionally.

Buying an actual cash value boat insurance policy instead of an agreed value may also provide you with a lower quote. However, make sure to be cautious. Although this policy offers great insurance rates, the payout you’ll receive is smaller because of the depreciation deduction. 

Should I Shop for Insurance First or the Boat?

If you’re shopping around for a vessel, it’s better to look for boat insurance first before sealing the deal. Insurance rates vary. So consider factoring in the rate of the coverage you want as you decide which boat is suitable for your budget.

Try to narrow down your options to a maximum of three boats. Take all the necessary information and specifications of the boat to local insurance companies to get quotes on your future boat. Compare everything, and then determine which among the boats is the perfect choice for your budget and needs.

Conclusion – Do You Need Boat Insurance in Florida?

So, do you need boat insurance in Florida? Boat insurance is not a legal requirement in Florida; however, I do recommend you get it. Just as you would get insurance for your home or car, purchasing sufficient insurance coverage for your vessel is a good idea. Having boat insurance in place can provide you and your precious boat with coverage, should something unforeseen occur. 

The coverage of your policy can include damage to your vessel and its equipment. It may also include damage to other ships or property and injuries you or other people may get in case of an accident. While it’s not mandatory to buy boat insurance in Florida, that doesn’t restrict your liability and responsibility for accidents as a boat owner.