Arizona is not a state that most people associate with boating. Honestly, it makes sense. At only .35% water, there isn’t a great deal of water in the state, in which to boat. Bodies of water are few and far between. The most notable boating location is the Colorado river, down which many tours raft and kayak throughout the year. It cuts straight through the Grand Canyon (which it created), and draws visitors from all over the world.

It would be a mistake to assume that no one boats in Arizona, however, In addition to the many natural rivers and lakes around the state, the government has built many reservoirs that serve recreational purposes, as well as providing water to local cities and towns. In 2016 Arizona had 123,263 registered boats, and saw 16.6% household participation in boating. It may not exactly be a yachting haven like its neighbor to the west, but Arizona has plenty of boating locales. With Lake Powell in the North, Tempe Town Lake in Central Arizona, and Lake Meade in the west, Arizona is more boater friendly than it seems at first glance. If you can tow it behind your truck, you can find a place to launch it in Arizona.

Arizona Boat Insurance

So, does Arizona require you to buy boat insurance? Unsurprisingly, it does not. The state of Arizona has no requirements regarding boat insurance for recreational vessels. We certainly recommend Arizona boat insurance, however, and the state government does too. You may also find that you don’t have a choice. Certain entities require you to have insurance:

  1. Loans: If you purchase a vessel in Arizona with the assistance of a loan, your lender will most likely require Arizona boat insurance. If your lender doesn’t require some level of insurance, in fact, you should probably find another lender. Their reasoning makes sense. Your lender is several thousand (or hundred thousand) dollars in the red until your loan is paid off. Your boat is the collateral on that loan. If your boat gets into an accident and becomes worthless, your lender doesn’t want to lose that money. Your policy should list the lender as the lien-holder. If you need to file a claim, your check will then list the bank or other lender as the co-payee.
  2. Marinas: Most marinas, yacht clubs, and dockyards throughout Arizona require insurance to dock long-term. Much like lenders, marinas are trying to shield themselves financially. If your boat damages another vessel, they don’t want to be dragged into litigation. They want your respective insurance companies to take care of it.

Small Boat Insurance

Obviously you don’t need to worry about marina requirements if you keep your boat on a trailer or in a garage. Arizona is far from the ocean, and has few major marinas or yacht clubs. As a result, most Arizona residents keep their boat on a trailer.

If that’s your situation, does Arizona boat insurance still make sense? It’s a reasonable question. 7% of Arizona households use kayaks or canoes, according to the latest survey. In addition, plenty of people have paid off their pontoon or speed boat, and only launch them when they go boating. Even in such instances, we highly recommend insurance for everyone.  There are excellent reasons to buy insurance for small boats, even if you don’t strictly need to.

Liability Coverage

Power boats make the easiest case for insurance. Open motorboats are involved in more accidents and fatalities than any other boat type every year. Even if you aren’t worried about your own vessel, you should at least buy liability insurance for both property damage and personal injury. Anything that goes fast can go too fast, and accidents on the water can be ruinous. You can generally find liability coverage at an affordable rate, and it can save you thousands if something happens.

Insurance is especially important on any boat you lend out. If someone injures themselves or another person on your vessel, you can be held liable, even if you were not present. In addition, speed boats, Jet Ski’s, and pontoon boats get expensive very quickly. If your vessel is damaged or sinks, you should have a policy to help you recoup the damages. You can read more about pontoon boat insurance here, and power boat insurance here if you remain unconvinced.

Self-Propelled Boats

You should also at least consider Arizona boat insurance for canoes and kayaks. The note above about lending your boat out still very much applies to kayaks. If your immediate family are the only operators, you may not feel that you need liability insurance, as you probably won’t hit anything hard enough to cause damage. We always recommend liability insurance, as it is usually reasonable, and you never think you’ll need it until you do. You may also want to insure your kayak itself, to protect it from theft or vandalism. Many fishing canoes and kayaks can cost $1-2k. If someone steals it off your car or out of your garage, you want to be able to replace it. For more information on kayak insurance, Click Here

The Stats

Arizona saw far more accidents than you might expect from it’s boating participation rate. With 1% of the boats in America, Arizona saw 2% of her boating accidents. Given the relative scarcity of boating opportunities, the lakes and reservoirs that do draw boaters tend to be more packed than those in more water-logged states. Those accidents were not exactly cheap either. Boating accidents in 2016 led to $506,661 in damages. That averages to roughly $5,600 per accident. Boat insurance costs a fraction of that sum for most of us, and it can save you thousands more.

Arizona boating accident statistics 2016

The fatality rate in Arizona last year was lower than the national average, and fatalities dropped from 2015 to 2016. Any boating death is one too many, but similarly, any reduction in boating deaths is encouraging. Boating carries some inherent risk. Our enjoyment of our rivers, lakes, and reservoirs demands our attention and consideration. Any accident can become a tragedy in an instant, so we must remain alert any time we leave shore.

Boating and Alcohol

Unfortunately, Alcohol is a major contributor to boating deaths in Arizona. Boating accidents attributed to alcohol have increased every year over the past 3 years, as have boating fatalities from such accidents. Even though only 12% of Arizona’s boating accidents were attributed to alcohol, 60% of the boating deaths listed alcohol as a factor. Although the numbers are more severe in Arizona, the trend is common nation-wide. Accidents in which alcohol is involved are far more likely to result in death than other boating accidents. Please, every time you leave shore, designate an operator who will not drink. It is one of the biggest things you can do to ensure your safety and the safety of your passengers.

We know that boat insurance doesn’t protect against every eventuality. It can’t keep your boat from getting into an accident. However, it does protect you and your family financially in the event of an accident. It is usually affordable, and it can save you thousands.