Do I Need Boat Insurance [State Requirements]

Do I need boat insurance? The majority of states in America do not require you to have boat insurance to operate a boat for recreational purposes

Here’s a look at the states that legally require you to have some form of boat insurance to operate a boat for recreational purposes. 

Bright Red= Boat insurance requirement 

Blue = Not Required

Dark Red = Boat License Requirement

do you need boat insurance
Image courtesy of

Only Arkansas, Utah and Hawaii require you to have a boat insurance policy.  

Obviously, the boating industry is far less regulated than other industries with boat licenses being required in only  Alabama, Delaware, Georgia and Mississippi. (areas marked in dark red on map.

While your state might not have boating insurance laws and you’re thinking this is great because you’ll save money, this is not the best mindset to have. 

Here is why...

If you purchased the boat through a loan, your lending provider may require you to have insurance in order to receive the money. 

Many marinas also require you to have boat insurance to use their facilities, (something that’s become more and more common in recent years) 

This is to protect other users of the marina should an unfortunate accident happen. 

So yes, while on paper you do not legally need boat insurance in most states, it’s something you should consider. 

You might not have an option if buying a boat through a lender or planning to have your boat moored at a marina for the reasons mentioned above. 

No one likes paying insurance, but they can be helpful in unfortunate events. 

Sure, 99 times out of 100 you will have a safe boating trip but what about that 1 time?

Granted, you may go your whole time boating without any incidents and hopefully this is exactly what happens, but it’s better to stay protected for that one time that things may go wrong. 

By the way, have a look at the photo below. It’ll give you an idea why some marinas insist on you having boat insurance if you want to use their facilities.

boat insurance
Credit Quincy Police Twitter 

Now, imagine how upsetting it might be if this were to happen to your boat and it was uninsured.  It's always better to prevent  fire onboard rather than need the insurance afterwards.

Or imagine being liable for the damage to the other boats? Okay, that might be on the extreme end but you get the point. 

People have had to fork out thousands of dollars in the past because they tried to save on insurance and we get it. As we said above, who likes paying for insurance?

So you see the need for boat insurance but what are you options ? And more importantly what is it going to cost you? 

Boat Insurance Options

There are a number of options for boat insurance and you can get customized insurance policies to your particular needs. 

The trick is in finding the balance in what you need and not overdoing it in what you want. 

Now, similar to car insurance, your quotes will vary quite significantly based on age, price of boat, location, etc. 

With that being said, here are the most common policies boat insurance will cover. 

  • Property Damage
  • Collision 
  • Medical 
  • Other Uninsured Boaters
  • Bodily Injury
  • Boating Equipment 
  • Theft, Vandalism, Damage To Property

Property damage 

Typically, this will cover any damage you cause to other property. Insurance will pay up yo whatever your liability threshold is. (on a person by person basis)


This covers you if you collide with another boat or hit something while boating. 


This will typically cover any medical issues occurring as a result of boating. E.g. a crash, fall while getting onboard etc. 

Other Uninsured Boaters

This typically covers you if you get into an accident with another boat and they are uninsured or under insured. 

Bodily Injury

This will cover you should you be liable to pay for bodily harm you may  cause other boaters as a result of a boating accident.

Boating Equipment

You will be insured for any damage to your property onboard your boat. This can be extended to personal property 

Fuel Spill Liability 

Should you have the unfortunate situation occur of a fuel spillage, it will obviously cause environmental damage. 

Having this coverage  in your boat insurance policy will help offset any damages you might be liable to pay as a result of fuel spillage. 

While these describe what each policy would cover, it’s important to note that individual insurance companies may have different meanings for each type of policy so always be clear on what you are exactly covered with your insurance provider. 

Where can you buy boat insurance ?

There are a number of places you can get boat insurance. It should be noted that boat insurance (as covered in some home insurance policies)  is very restrictive in most cases and there are many limitations. 

As such, it’s wise to just get separate boat insurance coverage and the best part is you don’t have to spend a lot in doing so.

So let’s dig in to some of the most popular insurance companies on the market today. 

  • USAA Boat Insurance 
  • State Farm 
  • Allstate 
  • Nationwide
  • Progressive Boaters Insurance 
  • Safeco Insurance 
  • Travelers
  • Cincinnati Insurance
  • Hanover Insurance group 
  • Pemco Insurance 
  • Geico (Boatus) 
  • 21st century insurance 
  • American Family Insurance
  • Amco boaters insurance 
  • Encompass insurance
  • California Casualty Boater insurance
  • Westfield insurance
  • American national

There are plenty of options around the country to have your boat insured, the most popular for boaters generally being Geico (under the boatus insurance) 

We surveyed our readers and the majority voted Boatus as their favorite so it might be the best place to start when looking for boat insurance quotes. 

We still encourage you to shop around as you may find a great deal in other places that is perfect for your individual circumstances. 

What’s the cost of boat insurance?

This will obviously very quite a lot from one person to the next as it will depend on factors like:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Boat Size 
  • Power of boat
  • Value of boat
  • Experience - Whether you have any boating or sailing qualifications e.g. certificate of competence. 
  • The use of the boat 
  • Your credit score (some insurance companies will want this information)

On average, you can get boat insurance in the $300 - $600 per year range. 

Again, this is just an average and you might find much cheaper or more expensive insurance depending on where you look and your own circumstances. 

Commercial Boat Insurance

Commercial boat insurance is a different story and if you are operating a boat for commercial reasons, you will need insurance to cover yourself, your business and the passengers you take onboard. 

Prices for commercial insurance are substantially higher as there is a higher chance of being liable for injury/damage etc.  If you plan on offering your boat for rent, you can check out our boat rental insurance guide for tips on requirements and regulations.

Typically, you can contact the insurance companies mentioned above and they will have a commercial department that will take care of all your needs. 


While most states have no legal requirements for having boating insurance, you might still want to avail of some form of insurance on your boat for the reasons mentioned above. 

The best part is in the majority of cases, the cost of insurance isn’t too bad. And yes, we do get it, paying for insurance sucks!

But it is always better to be safe than sorry. While things might be great, it can only take one incident to really screw things up. 

And if you want to avail of local marinas services with your boat, you may need to provide proof of insurance as these marinas have been known to ask for it to protect the other boats in the marina. 

They don’t want one boat lighting up the whole dock and destroying all the other boats (similar to the photo above) 

In some circumstances, if you aren’t insured, you might find yourself sued for damages which is not a situation anyone should be put through. 

So with that in mind, there is no harm in getting a quote.

The worst that can happen is you don’t like the quote and think it’s too high. In which case, you can shop around. 

Just be smart with the quotes! 

Insurance agencies will try and upsell you on everything they can and this can cost a fortune. 

Be smart and only insure what you think is most necessary and most important to you. This will help keep those pesky insurance costs down. 

As stated above, if you are buying a boat on loan from a bank, they may require you meet some minimum insurance standards so keep this in mind too and safe boating.