Alaska has 33,904 miles of coastline, more than all the other coastlines in America combined. Thousands of rivers and lakes provide ample opportunity for powerboats, jet boats, kayaks, and everything in between. With so much water, it is no wonder Alaska has one of the highest rates of boat usage in the country, despite what could lightly be termed as an “inhospitable” winter.

Alaska boat insurance

Obligatory Alaska snow glacier picture!

In fact, Alaska has roughly 40% recreational boating participation, far greater than Florida (28%), California (20%) , or Hawaii (22%). In addition, immense diversity exists in Alaska’s boating region. Myriad commercial vessels ply Alaska’s coastline in various trades.

Commercial fishing is a massive industry in Alaska, and is probably the best-known, since The Deadliest Catch premiered on the Discovery Channel in 2005. However, Cruise lines also have a major presence in Alaska, particularly in the gulf. Cruise ships usually come up from Seattle or Vancouver, some traveling as far as Seward, on the northern tip of the gulf. In addition, many towns draw thousands of tourists with charter boats and/or whale watching vessels. Alaska’s major waterways are a huge draw for people from all over the world, who want to experience the natural beauty of America’s largest state.

Alaska boat insurance

Seriously, it would be irresponsible NOT to boat there.

Alaska Boat Insurance

As in most other states, Alaska’s state government does not require you to possess boat insurance. Obviously if you own a charter company, commercial fishing vessel, or, for some reason, a cruise liner, you will be required to have insurance in order to operate. Even as a recreational boat user, however, you should note that Alaska boat insurance is highly recommended. In many cases, you may not have a choice, whether to have insurance. These requirements tend to exist in all states, as marinas and banks all over the country want to protect their investment

  1. Loans: Your lender will almost certainly require you to insure your boat if you purchase it with the assistance of a loan. In fact, if your lender doesn’t insist upon insurance, you should probably find another lender. Lenders don’t want to lose 70% of the boat’s value if it sinks or is damaged beyond repair. Your insurance policy will denote the bank as the lien-holder. As a result, any compensation from your insurance company will include the bank as a co-payee.
  2. Marinas: Most marinas, yacht clubs, and dockyards throughout Alaska will require you to show proof of insurance if you plan to dock there. Basically, if your boat damages another vessel (or their dock), they want you to have the means to cover it. You will not face this issue if you keep your boat on a trailer, though there are still excellent reasons for you to have insurance.

Small Boat Insurance

So, as long as you own a canoe or kayak, don’t need a mooring, and have paid it off, is there any reason to pay for Alaska boat insurance? After all, it’s not like you’re likely to run anything over with something that slow. In this instance, you can probably get away without liability insurance. As long as you don’t go about ramming yachts, you’re unlikely to need it. The big exception is if you let someone else use your canoe or kayak. Anyone other than you, your spouse, or your children has grounds to sue you for damages if they injure themselves on your vessel, even if they’re alone in your kayak. It may not be entirely fair, but if you lend out your kayak, (and certainly if you rent it), make sure you have some level of liability insurance.

If you and your family are the only operators, you probably don’t need liability insurance. Even so, you may want to insure your kayak itself to protect it from theft or vandalism. Many canoes and Kayaks can cost $1-2k. If someone steals it out of your garage, you want to be able to replace it. For more information on kayak insurance, Click Here

Alaska Boat Insurance Cost

If you are accustomed to buying boat insurance in The 48 contiguous states, you may find insurance in Alaska somewhat more expensive. Deals absolutely exist, but you may have to do a little more hunting to find the right price. There are several reasons for this. Everything is more expensive in Alaska, because most things need to be either shipped or flown in. In that way (if in only that way), it greatly resembles Hawaii. As a result, if something goes wrong, and you need a part flown in, it will cost more than it would in, say, Iowa.

Insurers will undoubtedly also take into account where you plan to boat. If you stay on rivers and lakes, you will likely see little difference. If you plan to go out on the ocean, however, expect a bit of a price increase. The northern Pacific and Bering sea, rightly or wrongly, have a particularly dangerous reputation. Insurers are likely to take that reputation into account when they calculate your premium. On that note, make sure you know your allowed cruising range. If you go out on the ocean, Insurers are likely to give you limits of longitude and latitude. Make sure that you know where your limits are. If they aren’t broad enough, talk to your insurance company to set them where you need them. If you get into an accident outside of the prescribed range and need to file a claim, the insurance company will not cover it.

The Stats

The dangers of boating in Alaska are substantial. We cannot recommend Alaska boat insurance highly enough because accidents in Alaska tend to be expensive. The 26 reported accidents in Alaska in 2016 resulted in $774,000 in damages. That’s $29,700 per accident. $30k is more than enough to put most of us in the red. Insurance can protect you from the financial blow that such accidents can deal.

Alaska Boating Accident Statistics 2016

Alaska suffers from long winters, and extremely cold water, even during the summer months. Any accident or capsize therefore has much higher risks associated with it. The excruciatingly cold water makes victims hypothermic very quickly. In addition, the long distances to medical centers make it difficult to find help in time. Of the 26 reported accidents in Alaska in 2016, 14 of them (54%) resulted in a fatality. It is no wonder, therefore, that Alaska has one of the highest boating fatality rates in the nation. No amount of insurance can stop death, but as a boat owner and operator, you need to be aware of the risks. Obviously vessels that venture out on the ocean take much greater risks than those on Alaska’s rivers and lakes. Nevertheless, the danger exists on any body of water. Insurance is necessary to protect yourself financially in the event of an accident, however unlikely.