Does Alabama Require Boat Insurance?

Whether you’re considering buying your first boat or already have a boat, boat insurance may have crossed your mind. Like any other state, Alabama has a set of boating rules and regulations. They also have a specific set of requirements that you need to comply with before owning or driving a boat. In this article, I’m going to focus on insurance. Does Alabama require boat insurance?

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency that oversees the Marine Patrol does not require boat insurance. However, you will need boat insurance at several marinas or if you are financing your boat.

According to the U.S Coast Guard reports, back in 2014, there were over 4,000 boating incidents in the U.S., 610 deaths, and 2,678 injuries with over $39 million in damages. These large numbers mean it is a good idea to get your boat insured.

Read on to learn more about Alabama boating laws, including more on Alabama boat insurance and when you may need it.

Does Alabama Require Boat Insurance?

Alabama has a humid, subtropical climate with average annual temperatures of 64°F. This makes boating a popular hobby for most Alabamians. If you are living in The Cotton State of Alabama, you might be wondering if they require you to have boat insurance. The simple answer is NO.

States don’t often require boaters to have insurance policies for their watercraft. But, several marinas do require some form of liability. And if you are financing your boat through a bank, they often require you to have it insured. Does Alabama require boat insurance?

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency that oversees the Marine Patrol does NOT require boat insurance.

But this does not mean that you won’t be held accountable for any damages you might incur in an accident.

By 2019, Alabama has already had more boating accidents than the year-end total of the past 20 years. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Marine Patrol states that there have been at least 68 accidents with 25 deaths in the state.

In a statement by Capt. Gary Buchanon, the commander of Marine Patrol, there isn’t much rhyme or reason for the frequency and fatality of these accidents.

Factors That Determine Insurance Cost

Boats depreciate in value the same way as cars do. Unfortunately, their market value plummets in this fast-paced world as soon as you take them out into the harbor. Boat insurance policies usually cost around 1 to 2% of the boat’s market value. But, there are more factors that can determine your boat insurance cost.

  1. Boat Age
  2. Speed or Horsepower
  3. Condition
  4. Storage Location
  5. Navigation Area
  6. Driving Record
  7. Boat Ownership Experience

Boat Age

Since a boat value depreciates as it ages, having an old boat will heavily affect your insurance rate.

Speed or Horsepower

It is a well-known fact that speed has a significant contribution to accidents. Most insurance providers tend to frown upon faster boats in fear that they are more prone to claims due to owners’ spontaneity.

Condition

Make sure that before you apply for an insurance policy, your boat is in tip-top condition. Having a boat with even just a few issues would look bad and cause to be underinsured.

Storage Location

If you have a proper storage area for your boat, then you are in luck since boats in open areas are more likely to be damaged. This is especially true for those in hurricane-prone areas.

Navigation Area

Boats intended to be used in small peninsulas or local lakes have significantly lesser risks than those used in the open sea or international waters.

Driving Record

Insurance companies are known for checking the DMV records to determine the person’s overall driving ability. Those that have a clean driving record with no record of DUI’s or other infractions are sure to get better insurance deals.

Boat Ownership Experience

Experienced boaters tend to have fewer claims, which get them better insurance rates.

Types of Alabama Boat Insurance Policies

Many believe that since they have homeowners insurance policies, it automatically covers their boats. This isn’t always the case; if you rely on this coverage alone, you are under-insured. New models or expensive boats often require a separate policy from the homeowner’s insurance. Some marinas also require you to have a specific limit of liability.

Hull Insurance

Hull Insurance is a type of policy that covers damage to your boat and other properties involved. It normally includes the cost of boat repairs. In the worst-case scenario where the boat is beyond repair, the insurance will pay the agreed value of the boat.

Third-Party Liability

Third-Party Liability can be required by some marinas. It covers damages by your boat to other property damages like spills and towing, medical expenses, or rescue operations.

All-Risk

All-Risk Policies cover risks that are not specifically excluded from other boat insurance policies. These may include ice damage, pollution liability, mechanical breakdown, and freezing.

Comprehensive

Comprehensive covers everything other than collision damages and expenses.

Below is a great video on the types of boating insurance required in Alabama:

Boats That Can Be Covered by Insurance in Alabama

Insurance providers know that there are tons of different boats. This is why they have specified which types of boats they can cover with their policies. This applies to most, if not all, insurance providers in Alabama. The type of boats are:

  • Canoe
  • Jet Ski/ PWC
  • Kayak
  • Racing Boats
  • Sport Boats
  • Yacht
  • Fishing Boats
  • Bass Boat
  • Jon Boat
  • Cabin Cruiser
  • Sail Boat
  • Charter Boat
  • Swamp Boats

Though these boats may be covered by insurance since they pose different risks, the type of coverage will vary depending on your type of boat.

Alabama Boating Statistics

  • Alabama has 53 miles of coastline with more than 1,600 miles of waterways.
  • In 2012, there were over $700,00 of property damage due to boating accidents.
  • Colliding with a fixed object was the most common cause of boating accidents back in 2012.

Alabama Boating Law

Alabama is well aware that they have a conducive climate and terrain for boating. That is why they are passionate and proactive in keeping everyone safe. As provided by Marine Patrol, here are some laws and regulations of Alabama that you should be familiar with.

Vehicle Registration

All water-based vehicles must have the corresponding registration. In the state of Alabama, your vehicle must have an Alabama Certificate of Number and validation. This entitles you to use your vehicle on public waters.

Operator Restrictions

Children below 12 years old are NOT allowed to operate a vessel under any circumstances. However, if you are 12 or 13 years of age, you can obtain your Alabama boater safety certification and only operate a vessel supervised by an adult over 21.

For those who are 14 years and older, you are legally allowed to operate a vessel on Alabama waters for up to 45 days in a calendar year without supervision. On the 46th day, you must have a valid proof of boater safety certification.

Here is a video describing Alabama boating laws:

Conclusion – Does Alabama Require Boat Insurance?

So, does Alabama require boat insurance? Alabama does not require boat insurance; however, it is a great decision to get covered.

Despite Alabama not requiring boat insurance, you should seriously consider getting your own insurance policy. Boating is all about safety and fun, having adventures while enjoying the great outdoors. However, there are times that circumstances get the better of us. These are uncontrollable and circumstantial.

Would you risk your life and the safety of the ones you love? Having an insurance policy for your boat provides you a safety net for any accidents, especially those uncontrollable factors.

Before you sign up for a policy, you have to know all the facts. Consider these factors before talking with an insurance provider. They heavily influence the cost and coverage of your policy.

Factors That Determine Insurance Cost:

  1. Boat Age
  2. Speed or Horsepower
  3. Condition
  4. Storage Location
  5. Navigation Area
  6. Driving Record
  7. Boat Ownership Experience

Boat insurance is a forward step into a more carefree and safe boating experience. By getting a policy, you can rest easy and enjoy your adventures without worrying about many external factors.

Another step you could take to ensure everyone’s safety is to get familiar with the Marine Police’s laws and restrictions. Make sure that only those of legal age operate vessels for everyone’s safety.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Marine Patrol also has a user-friendly website that can provide you a more in-depth look at the rules and regulations that govern the state waterways.

If you are hoping to secure your own Alabama boater safety certification, the Marine Police’s website has references for you to review on the “Boater Education Online Testing” and an option for you to get certified with the “Boater Exam Online Testing.”

In the end, the decision rests upon your shoulders; would you opt to put your life as well as everyone on your vessel at risk by not signing up for insurance?

The state of Alabama does not require boat insurance; however, in the event that you are caught in an accident, you are expected to be liable for any damages you may incur. Always prioritize your safety before having fun.

Boat insurance is a step in the right direction. It can provide you comfort and ease of mind, posing as a backup plan should things get out of hand. A few bucks spent on an insurance policy is small compared to the costs of lives and other increments you may incur in an accident.