Homeowner’s insurance policies and marine claims

Recently a client came to me with a real problem. Driving his 19 foot center console powerboat, he had left the helm unattended for a few moments. The boat veered and struck a moored classic sailing yacht, damaging the varnished cockpit coaming and the toerail. The damage was over $30,000.00.

My client has no specific insurance policy covering his center console. I told him that most homeowner’s insurance policies include coverage for small boats (typically less than 25 feet), and he sent me a copy of the policy. Unfortunately, while the policy does provide coverage for motorboats less than 25 feet in length, to fall under coverage the horsepower must be less than 25. It appears my client is facing a five-figure claim for which he has no insurance coverage.

I suspect many small boat owners are in the same, well, boat. If your boating is done in a small boat, for goodness sakes check your policy. I would think coverage could be added for a small additional premium.

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