With summer approaching, you may be anxious to get your boat or personal watercraft into the water. If this is your first summer owning a boat, you may wonder if boat insurance is mandatory in Michigan.
The answer is, it depends. While there is no law in Michigan stating that a boat needs to be insured, you may be required to purchase an insurance policy through a bank, lender, or the marina you use. With that said, while boat insurance is optional, it is also a wise investment.
The most careful and responsible boater can be involved in an accident or become a victim of theft or vandalism. While being cautious can help prevent or reduce your chances of being in an accident, there are some things that you can’t control.
To learn more about Michigan boat insurance coverage and common boating laws, continue reading. The more knowledgeable you are on boater safety and rules, the more confident and comfortable you will feel out on the water.
What is covered under boat and personal watercraft insurance?
Depending on the insurance company you choose, your coverage may vary slightly. However, most policies include the same basic boat insurance options. These types include boat insurance property coverage, liability coverage, medical payments coverage, and uninsured watercraft coverage.
Boat insurance property coverage
Property coverage will protect your boat (and other watercraft) both in the water and on land. If your boat is in an accident, your policy will help pay for repairs. It may also help you to replace your boat if it was stolen.
If you damage another person’s property, then liability property coverage will help you pay for expenses you sustain as a result.
Medical payments coverage
If you or your passengers are injured in a boating accident, medical payment coverage will help cover hospital bills, medications, or X-rays.
Uninsured watercraft coverage
If an uninsured boater collides with you and your watercraft, the coverage on your boat insurance policy may help you pay for some of the expenses that you incur.
While these are the most typical types of coverage, insurance needs will vary from person to person. This is why there are often other protection options and add-ons as well. To determine which type of coverage will benefit you the most, set up an appointment to speak with an insurance agent.
Does the state of Michigan require boat insurance?
The state of Michigan requires boaters to register their boats, but Michigan boat insurance is voluntary. Even though it is optional to insure a watercraft, protecting yourself and your investment should still be a top priority.
While purchasing a boat insurance policy may not sound exciting, having peace of mind and being able to enjoy your summer is. Michigan is known for its Great Lakes and beautiful beaches. You want to get out there and enjoy yourself without worrying about what you will do in the case of an accident.
Boat insurance policies are relatively inexpensive and a small price to pay when you look at how much you will save if your boat is damaged or someone is injured. When you invest in boat insurance, you also invest in maintaining your health and creating memories.
What are some of Michigan’s common boating laws?
While there is no law in Michigan stating that boats or watercraft must be insured, there are other boating laws one must follow.
You must register your boat before going out on the water. There are a few exceptions to this law. If you have a rowboat that is 16 feet in length or less, you will be exempt from registering. The same goes for non-motorized canoes and kayaks.
Michigan does have various restrictions based on the age of the person operating a watercraft.
Less than 12 years old
- May operate a boat powered by a motor of no more than 6 horsepower legally without restrictions
- May operate a boat powered by a motor of more than 6 horsepower but no more than 35 horsepower legally only if they:
- Have been issued a boating safety certificate and have it on board the boat and
- Are directly supervised on board by a person at least 16 years of age
Those born on or after July 1, 1996
- May operate a boat legally only if they have been issued a boating safety certificate and have it on board the boat.
Those born before July 1, 1996
- May operate a boat legally without restrictions
Personal flotation devices (PFDs)
Each person on the boat must have a PFD, often referred to as a life jacket. These PFDs must be in good condition and readily accessible.
All boats are required to have a fire extinguisher onboard. These should be placed where they are easy to get to, not near the engine or hidden away in a compartment.
Unlawful and dangerous operation
These behaviors while operating a boat in Michigan are illegal:
- Reckless driving
- Failure to regulate speed
- Improper distance or direction
- Boating in restricted areas
Alcohol and Drugs
Michigan law prohibits anyone from boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
For a more exhaustive list of Michigan boating (watercraft) laws, you can check out The Department of Natural Resources handbook.
Prepare for rough seas with Frost & Remer
In a perfect world, we could go out onto the water with no worries. But, since we are all human and to err is human, we must be prepared. Preparing for unexpected accidents can ease both your mind and wallet.
At Frost and Remer, we know that you want the best type of coverage at the best price available. We offer both fair and competitive rates while offering discounts to our most valuable customers.
To find out more about our boat insurance coverage, discounts, and boat safety courses, contact us today!
Photo: Gautam Krishnan on Unsplash