Best Boat Insurance Companies

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Men speed across open water in a boat

 Joel Sheagren / Getty Images

The Rundown

In some states, boat insurance is a mandatory requirement. In those where it’s optional, making sure that you, your crew, and your boat are covered in the event of an accident is still a very good idea. While many companies offer boat insurance, the variety of coverage options can be overwhelming. Some cover the basics only, while others offer add-ons for salvage, towing, wear and tear, and incidents that occur while cruising outside the U.S. Explore our picks for the best boat insurance companies to gauge which insurer is right for you.

Best Overall: Allstate

Allstate

 Allstate

Why We Chose It: We chose Allstate as our overall winner because of its solid reputation, many years of experience, and generous discounts.  

What We Like
  • Coverage available from as little as roughly $21 per month

  • Multiple discount options for eligible customers

  • Build-your-own coverage for a bespoke policy

What We Don’t Like
  • No provision for oversized or classic boats

  • No specialty coverage for yachts

  • Some insurance providers are more affordable

Allstate is one of the largest, most-respected, and most financially secure insurance companies in the U.S. Coverage is offered for a wide variety of watercraft types and sizes, and each policy includes the assistance of a knowledgeable agent. Choose which coverage options are most relevant for you, including medical payments coverage (to help pay medical costs if someone on your boat is injured), liability coverage (to cover the cost of repairing or replacing someone else’s property), and personal effects coverage. 

Most significantly, Allstate gives you the option of insuring your boat for its agreed-upon value, which means that you will be paid out for that amount at the time your policy started rather than for its depreciated value at the time of claiming.

Coverage starts at roughly $21 per month and you may be eligible for further discounts if you have other Allstate policies, own your own home, or have taken a boater education class.

Best for Discounts: Markel

Markel Insurance

 Markel Insurance

Why We Chose It: We chose Markel because of its low premiums and generous discount options.

What We Like
  • Policies available from roughly $100 per year

  • Discounts let you save up to 35% extra

  • Optional add-ons mean you only pay for what you need

What We Don’t Like
  • Boats must be 26 feet in length or shorter to be eligible

  • No provision for cruising outside the United States

  • Several key coverages for fishermen are extra charges

Founded in 1930, Markel has earned a solid reputation in the insurance industry. Basic policies are available from as little as roughly $100 per year and include more standard coverages than most insurance companies on this list. These range from medical payments and emergency towing to personal effects, pollution liability, and uninsured boaters. 

Optional add-ons allow you to tailor your policy to your requirements. For example, fishing equipment coverage, professional angler liability, and fishing tournament reimbursement coverage are all offered for an extra fee to keep premiums low for those who don’t need them.

Other add-ons range from boat lift coverage to trailer coverage. You can also save up to around 35% with various policy discounts, while deductibles decrease by roughly 25% for every consecutive accident-free year.

Best for Small Boats: American Family

American Family Insurance

 American Family Insurance

Why We Chose It: We selected American Family because of its dedicated plans for sailboats, personal watercraft, and non-motorized craft.

What We Like
  • Coverage offered for most types of boats

  • Variety of add-ons for customized coverage

  • Multiple discounts available

What We Don’t Like
  • Full-pay discount is only available in certain states

  • Cruising coverage option is limited to Mexico only

Although American Family will insure most boats with a retail value of less than roughly $250,000.

It offers specialist coverage for seven types of boats, including bass and fishing boats, sailboats, personal watercraft, and non-motorized boats like canoes and kayaks. Key policy coverages range from bodily injury liability to property damage and medical expenses coverage. 

Physical damage is also typically included and covers damage to your boat as a result of a collision, fire, theft, sinking, vandalism, and more—either on land or on water. Also included is about $500 towards emergency roadside or on-water assistance with the option to increase this amount to up to around $2,500.

Other add-ons include agreed value coverage for your hull and coverage for personal effects and fishing equipment. If you’ve taken a boater safety course, have additional safety features installed, or have other policies with American Family, you may be eligible for a discounted premium.

Best for Yachts: Novamar

Novamar

 Novamar

Why We Chose It: We chose Novamar because it is based in the U.S. and offers fully customized policies.

What We Like
  • Expert assistance from agents with marine and boating experience

  • Proprietary programs for offshore and Mexican cruises

  • Coverage tailored to your specific requirements

What We Don’t Like
  • Not all policies are underwritten by Novamar (Mexico is the only country with its own proprietary program)

  • Pricing is only available upon requesting a quote

Yacht owners with complex insurance requirements (e.g., if you plan on cruising to other territories) will benefit from the expertise of the agents at Novamar.

Many of them have decades of experience in the marine insurance industry, and most are yachties themselves. Depending on your requirements, agents may act as a go-between to help you create a customized policy with a third-party underwriter, or may offer a proprietary Novamar program. 

Third-party policies are underwritten by a selection of international companies, including Markel, Foremost, and Yachtinsure. Your agent will help you to interpret the policy wording so that you know exactly what's covered, from whale strikes to damage caused by natural wear and tear. Novamar also offers its own bespoke policies for offshore sailors and those planning on cruising exclusively in Mexican territorial waters.

Best for Classic Boats: Hagerty

Hagerty

 Hagerty

Why We Chose It: We selected Hagerty because of its specialist status and coverage designed specifically with vintage watercraft in mind.

What We Like
  • More than 30 years of experience

  • Specialists in classic wooden and collectible fiberglass boats

  • Significant discounts for members of most collector boating clubs

What We Don’t Like
  • Newer fiberglass models may not be eligible for cover

  • Coverage is limited to 12 miles offshore

  • No provision for cruising outside North America

Many insurance providers limit the age of the boats they will insure. If you are the proud owner of a classic collectible vessel, Hagerty offers specialist solutions designed specifically with vintage boats in mind. Most classic wooden boats and collectible fiberglass boats older than 1990 are considered, with premiums taking the frequency with which you use your boat into consideration. 

Policies cover your boat on the water (with unlimited pleasure usage within U.S. and Canadian territorial waters), on the trailer, or in storage. You can even opt for Port Risk coverage which will cover your boat in case of fire, theft, or vandalism during an extended restoration project.

Repairs are carried out at a boat repair shop, and if you insure your boat for total loss, you will receive the full amount that you agreed upon when the policy began.

Best for Additional Coverage: Foremost

Foremost Insurance Group

 Foremost Insurance Group

Why We Chose It: We chose Foremost because it offers the market’s widest selection of add-on options.

What We Like
  • Impressive list of add-ons to give coverage in every situation

  • Specialist options for pontoon, performance, and classic boats

  • Wide variety of discounts

What We Don’t Like
  • Most unusual add-ons are only offered as part of the Elite package

  • Navigation coverage offered for Mexico and the Bahamas only

  • Watercrafts over $500,000 in value may not be covered

Foremost offers all of the standard coverage options you should expect from your boat insurance company, from physical damage to personal liability and medical payments.

In addition, the Plus and Elite packages offer a selection of possible add-ons to suit every situation. These include hurricane haul-out coverage, fishing tournament fee reimbursement, trip interruption, pet coverage, enhanced towing services, and navigation in the Bahamas and Mexico. 

The Elite package is also available specifically for pontoon boats, classic boats aged 25 years and older, and high-speed performance boats. If you’re on a budget, opt for the Saver package and a loss settlement that reflects your boat’s cash value at the time of claiming rather than its agreed value.

All policies are valid in U.S. and Canadian waters and there are ten different discount plans that you may be eligible for.

Best for Package Deals: Nationwide

Nationwide

 Nationwide

Why We Chose It: Nationwide is our top pick for package deals because of its impressive range of options that cater to most types of recreational boaters.

What We Like
  • Package deals for discounted rates

  • Additional discounts available for eligible clients

  • Insurance available for most watercraft types

What We Don’t Like
  • Limited add-on options available

  • No provision for commercial boat owners

  • Fewer discount options than some competitors

Nationwide offers insurance for any type of recreational boat up to a value of about $350,000, with basic coverages that range from bodily injury to property damage, medical payments, and uninsured boaters.

There are also a few add-ons to choose from. Opt to insure your fishing equipment or personal effects, or to include coverage for roadside assistance and on-water towing. For the cheapest premium, choose from four set packages: Weekenders, Overnighters, Light Tackle Anglers, and Deep Water Pros. Weekenders coverage costs about $1,000 for fishing equipment, $3,000 for personal effects, and $500 for towing to $10,000 for fishing equipment. Deep Water Pros costs $5,000 for personal effects, and $2,500 for towing.

Further discounts are available in several cases, for example, if you insure multiple boats with Nationwide, have other Nationwide policies, or have successfully completed a boater safety course.

Best Commercial: Maritime Insurance International

Maritime Insurance International

Maritime Insurance International

Why We Chose It: Maritime Insurance International stands out because of its exceptional customer reviews and a broad range of coverage options.

What We Like
  • Stellar ratings on Google Reviews

  • Experienced agents to help you choose the best policy

  • Specialist coverage for a broad range of commercial vessels and occupations

What We Don’t Like
  • Policies are underwritten by third-party providers

  • Pricing is not immediately available online

  • Offices are all based on the East coast

If you operate a vessel for commercial purposes, most of the recreational options listed above will not give you sufficient coverage in the event of an accident or emergency. Luckily, Maritime Insurance International specializes in commercial coverage for inspected and uninspected charter boats, rental boats, and commercial vessels ranging in size and purpose, from fishing boats to tugboats and ferries. 

Upon requesting assistance from one of the company’s expert agents, you will receive a number of quotes from third-party insurance providers. In total, Maritime Insurance International works with roughly 11 carefully curated, experienced marine insurance underwriters. Your agent will help you to make an informed decision about which is the best for you, both in terms of price and coverage.

Coverage options include shoreside liability, liquor liability, excess liability, pollution liability, and more. Marine professionals from boat builder to yacht broker are also catered to.

Final Verdict

We chose Allstate as the best overall boat insurance provider because of its reliable reputation, relative cost-effectiveness, and broad range of coverage options. If you’re looking for particularly unusual or comprehensive coverage, Foremost offers the most diverse array of add-ons, while Nationwide and Markel are good options for those wanting package deals and discounts. For specialist requirements, consider Hagerty (vintage boats), Novamar (yachts), or Marine Insurance International (commercial vessels). 

Do I Need Boat Insurance?

Boat insurance is only required by law in Utah, Hawaii, and Arkansas. Nevertheless, boat insurance is a no-brainer for protecting your investment wherever you live.

How Much Does Boat Insurance Cost?

Boat insurance varies widely in cost depending on the provider you choose and factors like the value, size, and age of your boat, what you use it for and how frequently, and which optional add-ons you purchase. General coverage at Allstate starts at about $21, but the overall cheapest policy on this list is offered by Markel for about $100 per year. 

What Does Boat Insurance Typically Cover?

Boat insurance policy coverage depends greatly on which one you choose. However, standard coverages usually include property damage, liability coverage, medical payments, and personal effects. 

Can I Insure a Commercial Boat?

Absolutely, although you will need to choose your provider carefully as most typically limit their coverage to recreational boats. We recommend Maritime Insurance International as a specialist provider for commercial vessels. 

How We Chose the Best Boat Insurance Companies

To narrow down the large list of available options, we carefully researched the coverage, cost, and discounts offered by each one. We then compared the results with industry reviews and feedback from existing customers. Some (like Progressive and GEICO) were disqualified from our selection process because of their poor consumer reviews, while others like yacht insurance specialist Allianz were eliminated because their primary base is located outside the U.S. We also aimed to choose companies that represented the broadest possible spectrum of vessel types and usage.

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