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Why You Need Boat Insurance For Your Business

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Commercial boat insurance—also called commercial marine insurance or ocean marine insurance—is a comprehensive policy that includes coverage for the commercial vessel itself and liability issues that may arise.

For example, you own and operate a commercial fishing boat. You're on the ocean when a storm starts brewing and the water gets choppy. You decide to head in, but the storm hits with a vengeance. As you're trying to moor the boat, you accidentally collide with another boat owner.

With the proper insurance protection, you can rest easy knowing your fishing boats are covered and your business is protected. Your commercial boat insurance covers the damage to the other boat as well as the damage to yours.

Most people don't think the worst will happen to them. But whether you own fishing vessels or rent watercraft to tourists, you must protect your business and your clients. We can help you plan for the unexpected.

Some of the Categories of Vessels Covered

What type of commercial vessel should get business insurance?

  • Inshore/offshore fishing vessels
  • Sightseeing charters/tour boats
  • Waterski/wakeboard schools
  • Rental services
  • Recreational boats
  • Commercial fishing boats
  • Oil Barges
  • Tankers
  • Ferries
  • Tugboats
  • Barges
  • Cruise liners

Any other vessel that carries paying passengers or commercial freight should get insurance.

What Insurance Do You Need For a Boat?

These are some of the insurance policies boat owners should get for a comprehensive commercial marine insurance policy.

Marine Liability Insurance 

Marine liability insurance (also known as protection and indemnity coverage) protects the owner of the vessel for liability arising from third-party bodily injury or property damage. This liability coverage includes illness of, injury to, or the death of crew or passengers. It is general liability insurance for watercraft.

While marine liability typically includes some coverage for medical expenses, you want to make sure it’s an appropriate amount. Or you can get additional medical payments coverage. This insurance pays per person versus per incident and can help supplement the limits on your liability coverage. 

Hull + Machinery Insurance

In short, hull insurance covers any damage to the physical hull of the boat. It’s similar to the coverage you’d get with an auto insurance policy. A hull policy usually includes coverage for the vessel, permanently attached machinery, and propulsion equipment. 

Similar to commercial auto, the policy also extends to property damage to a third party’s boat or property if a collision occurs. In what circumstances is there usually coverage? Aside from physical damage from a collision, it usually covers property damage caused by fire, weather events, sinking/capsizing, piracy, barratry, or jettisoning. Normal wear and tear is not covered by hull insurance. 

Marine Cargo Insurance

Marine Cargo covers any goods that are legally transported on commercial vessels, in both domestic and foreign waters. Coverage typically begins from the moment products are loaded onto your barge and delivered to their final destination. 

However, some insurance companies allow you to tailor your ocean cargo coverage to include protection for your goods when they are stored in a warehouse unexpectedly. It can also cover what’s called “concealed damage” that isn’t apparent upon delivery but is discovered after the shipped goods are fully inspected.

If there is damage to the goods or delivery is delayed, cargo insurance usually includes coverage for any loss of revenue.

Pollution Liability Insurance

If your boat is damaged and sinks in a storm, you as the owner are responsible for the cost of removing and disposing of the wreckage. If you had hazardous materials on board, you will also be responsible for any cleanup and decontamination costs when appropriate. If you have pollution insurance, it can cover these costs up to your policy limits. 

Uninsured Boater Coverage

Personal and commercial watercraft are not always legally required to obtain liability insurance. If an uninsured boater causes an accident, they won’t have the necessary insurance to pay for any claims of bodily injury to you or your crew and passengers. If you add uninsured boater coverage to your boat insurance policy, you can make a claim against your own policy.

Other Insurance Options to Consider

What other business insurance coverage should you consider?

  • Liquor Liability: Do you serve alcohol on board? If so, you’ll need liquor liability in case an intoxicated passenger harms someone else or causes property damage. 
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance: Also referred to as maritime coverage, if you have full-time crew members, you’ll likely need this insurance. It helps cover their medical expenses and lost wages if they’re injured on the job. 
  • Business Interruption Insurance: If your boat is damaged and you can't operate your business, this policy can help cover your payroll, lost profits, bills, and other expenses until you're fully operational.
  • Bumbershoot Insurance: This is an umbrella insurance specialized to the marine industry.

How Much Does Commercial Boat Insurance Cost?

The cost of commercial boat insurance varies depending on numerous factors, including:

  • The value of the vessel. It is new? Is it used? This will change the insured value.
  • What is the length of the boat? The age?
  • What are the specifications of the boat? What is it constructed of? Is it a V-gull, Catamaran, sailing yacht, or fishing vessel?
  • What are the specifications of the engines?
  • Where is the boat typically moored?
  • Where do you travel on the boat? How far? What is the intended navigation
  • The claims history of the owner, captain, or navigator. 
  • The intended use of the boat. 
  • The insurance company you choose.

Insurance agents that are experienced with watercraft and marine policies are the best place to start to get a quote for coverage.

Get a Free Commercial Boat Insurance Quote

If you have questions regarding your commercial marine insurance operations or would simply like more information, please talk with your insurance agent or one of ours. If you'd like a free quote, complete the form at the top of the page or contact us at 877-907-5267. Our goal is to help small and medium-sized businesses solve their insurance needs.

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