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Insuring homemade (from a kit) boats??

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Do you have insurance on your kit boat? Who did you use? Do they know you built it yourself? If they did would they still insure it?


I got a call the other day from a builder asking if we had a recommendation for an insurance company after they were told that GEICO is no loner offering insurance for homemade kit boats. 


I thought this would be a topic others might have some helpful insight on. 

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By insure do you mean liability and property damage or the boat itself?  My homeowners in RI  covered liability and property damage as long as the boat was under 25'. I self insured on the boat itself.  I figure I will do the repair any way and in the last 5 years I have probably saved enough on premiums to buy all the materials I could need for repairs.


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Same here in MA.  I have personal liability and property damage as a rider on my home owners policy.  My boat lives on the trailer and is covered as it us under25’ .  

my homeowner’s policy is ridiculously expensive though.  (10K named storm deductible), but I digress.  Glad it includes this add-on. 

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This subject was discussed early in my building of Chessie.  I can’t find it now, but it my post was on the leaderboard.


I had complained that I’d been unable to find an insurer after inquiring with typical home and auto agent — and had given up.  Later, I tried again at BoatUS.  Their agent informed me about typical boat insurance.  It is available for home-builts.  And often homeowners and umbrella policies don’t cover the liabilities unique to watercraft use.  And a very big difference is the property damage payout [your own boat] is on a “declared value” basis, not “fair market value.”  That avoids big arguments about depreciation and value.


To be sure, in order for my “declared value” to be accepted, I had to provide a lot of design info and photos of the build and finished product.  The coverage was for both boat, trailer, and equipment.  My declared value for Chessie and trailer was about $16,000 — a little over what I managed to sell her for.  After checking with my umbrella agent, I got liability coverage to the limit required by the umbrella insurer.  The liability and property damage policy cost me about $300/year.  When selling her, the BoatUS agent cooperated with transferring (or reinsuring with new owner) so that there wouldn’t be “an insurance gap.”


To get their insurance you need to be a BoatUS member (~$50/yr) for which there are some benefits like a towing discount, West Marine gold card discounts, and subscription to their magazine which has good safety and maintenance tips that you’d expect from an insurer.  Also, often other interesting articles.


PS — Note that liabilities unique to watercraft (and perhaps not covered by homeowners or other insurance) could be high.  Consider owner/skipper allowing novice to sail in rough conditions, crew injured or killed on sailing under small craft warnings, or just defending a claim of liability in a collision involving a death.  Yes, rare.  But that’s what insurance is for — and piece-of-mind that should a rarity occur, it might not ruin you.

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  • 1 month later...

Yes, you should keep looking until you find insurance, specifically a marine policy.

First, not all auto policies will pay for damage to a boat while it is being towed.  My guess is that situation is when you are most likely to encounter heavy losses (via an accident).

Second, many marine polices cover rescue and salvage.  An "easy" recovery (by which I mean a disabled boat still floating) is probably going to be $1,000 or more.  A salvage of a sunken vessel in deep water is extremely high (here in Grand Traverse Bay the Coast Guard is making a boat owner resurrect a powerboat because of the leaking gas).


My boat is not kit-made but I think the declared price mentioned about is accurate.  My insurance for a declared value of around $6,000 is $140 a year.  Super cheap peace of mind.

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