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Wolf Administration Urges Boat Owners to Protect Their Investments by Insuring Watercraft


Harrisburg, PA - Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today reminded boat owners they need specific insurance for their watercraft, and neither their homeowners nor auto policies will cover most damage or liability resulting from claims involving a boat.

“Many Pennsylvanians enjoy boating each year on our state’s over 85,000 miles of rivers and streams, 76 natural lakes, and 2,300 constructed impoundments.  But state waters can get crowded, as the U.S. Coast Guard reports 315,503 recreational vessels were registered in Pennsylvania as of 2016,” Altman said.  “A boat, especially a power boat, is a big investment, typically costing tens of thousands of dollars, and owners should make sure their investment is properly protected.”

Homeowners insurance typically provides only minimal coverage for very small boats with no engine or a very small engine.  Auto insurance will provide limited coverage if the boat is damaged while being pulled by a vehicle, but will not cover damaged caused by the boat should it hit a person or cause property damage.

“Owners should consider coverage for damage to the boat, or damage the boat may cause to other property, as well as liability coverage for injuries the boat could cause if it strikes an individual, and for any injuries someone may suffer while on the boat,” Altman said. 

Many boat owners use their watercraft for recreational activities, such as fishing, and so may have expensive gear on board.  Boat insurance can also cover theft of personal possessions on the craft, along with vandalism, and damage by fire.

Similar to homeowners insurance, there are different levels of boat insurance.  There are three types of boat insurance that consumers can select from to provide coverage for damages to a boat:

  • Actual cash value (ACV) or market value: Your insurer will reimburse you for the current value of the boat, minus your deductible, if you experience a total loss. For a partial loss, the insurer will pay for the depreciated value of lost or damaged items, minus your deductible.
  • Agreed amount value: You and your insurer have agreed upon a value of your boat at the time you purchase the policy. This is the amount you will be paid if you experience a total loss, minus your deductible. Damage from a partial loss is paid on a replacement cost basis, minus your deductible. In other words, no depreciation is taken on a partial loss.
  • Replacement cost coverage: In the event of a total loss, your insurer will pay to replace your boat with one that is as similar to your boat as possible.

Consumers need to consider how much they have invested in their craft, and what type of coverage they want should a significant or total loss occur.

“Boat insurance costs vary by the amount and type of coverage purchased,” Altman said.  “However, to protect an investment that likely costs tens of thousands of dollars, as well as preserve the opportunity for you and your family to continue to enjoy time on the boat, this is coverage well worth the cost.”

Boating safety is crucial.  Operators must obtain and have in their possession a Boating Safety Education Certificate when operating a personal watercraft.  Boat operators of boats with greater than 25 horsepower and born on or after Jan. 1, 1982, must also have a Boating Safety Education Certificate. 

“Pennsylvania waters provide boaters with a wide range of opportunities,” said Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Executive Director John Arway. “We want boaters to enjoy themselves on the water, but we want them to be safe. Boating safety education courses are not only important for insuring the individual boater’s safety but also the safety of other boaters enjoying Commonwealth waters. We urge all boaters to take these courses and to always wear a life jacket.”

Information on boating safety and requirements is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission at

Consumers with insurance questions can download a flier on boat insurance, and contact the Insurance Department as, or by calling 1-877-881-6388.

MEDIA CONTACT: Ron Ruman, Insurance, 717-787-3289; Rick Levis, Fish and Boat Commission, 717-705-7806 -

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