The Hoosier State is home to the longest river East of the Mississippi. The Wabash River bisects the state, and forms part of the Illinois-Indiana border. Indiana has more than 65 rivers, totaling around 24,000 river miles in Indiana alone, and over 900 lakes. In addition, Indiana has roughly 45 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, more than enough to sustain an enthusiastic cruising culture.

Last year, Indiana registered 209,622 boats, which ranks it 20th in the country. Boating participation is high in Indiana, however, at about 31%. That is several points above the national average, at nearly a third of Indiana households. In addition 21% of Indiana households own their own vessels, which is right about in line with the rest of the country. More than half of Indiana boaters fish recreationally, given the plentiful opportunities all around the state. Whatever your boating interest, you can find it in Indiana.

Indiana Boat Insurance

So, does Indiana require boat insurance? Nope. Like most other states, Indiana’s state government does not require insurance on any boat type. Even so, you may find that you’re required to buy Indiana boat insurance anyway in certain circumstances.

  • Loans: If you need a loan to buy a vessel in Indiana, your lender will probably require you to buy Indiana boat insurance. Really, if your lender does not make boat insurance a stipulation for your loan, you should probably find a different lender. Indeed, it would be silly for any lender to forego the insurance requirement. Until your loan is paid off, your lender has spent several thousand (or hundred thousand) dollars with no return. Their collateral on that loan is your boat. If you stop paying your loan off, they can seize your boat to make up the difference.  If your boat were in an accident, however, and became worthless, it would also become useless as collateral. Your lender doesn’t want to lose that money, hence the insurance stipulation. The lender is likely to appear on your insurance policy as the lien-holder. If you need to file a claim, the check from your insurer will then list your lender as the co-payee.
  • Marinas: Most marinas, yacht clubs, and dockyards in Wisconsin will require insurance. The reasons are simple. Marinas want to protect themselves financially from any mistakes their members make. If your vessel damages another member’s boat, the marina wants to avoid litigation. They would vastly prefer your respective insurance companies take care of the issue.

Small Boat Insurance

So, if you keep your boat on a trailer or in a garage, you clearly don’t care about marina requirements. Indiana has 45 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, but the majority of boaters are on rivers and lakes across the state. Most boaters therefore operate speed boats, pontoon boats, Jet Skis, and kayaks. You can easily store all of these vessels on a trailer, and simply launch them when you need them

In that case, if you aren’t worried about marinas or loans, should you still consider Indiana boat insurance? It’s a reasonable question. Roughly 14% of Indiana households boat in kayaks or canoes. Kayaks are becoming the most popular affordable fishing platforms across much of the U.S., including Indiana. Such vessels are relatively inexpensive, lightweight, and you can usually transport them on a roof rack.  In addition, many folks have paid off their pontoon or speed boat, and keep them at home. Nevertheless, we highly recommend boat insurance for everyone.  Insurance is extremely important for small boats, even if the state of Indiana doesn’t require it..

Liability Coverage

You should always purchase liability insurance for a power boat. Across the United States, every year, open motorboats are involved in more accidents than any other boat type. Even if your vessel is paid off, you should buy liability insurance to cover property damage and personal injury. Any boat with an engine can be driven dangerously. We obviously never expect accidents, but on the water any accident can turn tragic quickly. Liability coverage is usually reasonably affordable, and it can save you thousands if you need it.

Any boat you lend out should also have insurance, no matter how slow it is. If someone injures themselves or another person on your boat, you can be held liable, even if you were not present. In addition, Jet Skis, speed boats, and pontoon boats can be expensive. If your vessel gets into an accident, you will want insurance to help you recoup the damages.if you remain unconvinced, you can read more about pontoon boat insurance here, and power boat insurance here.

Self-Propelled Boats

You should also at least consider Indiana boat insurance for kayaks and canoes. We always recommend liability insurance on any vessel, including kayaks. Though we acknowledge that it is difficult to paddle into something hard enough to cause real damage. If you lend your kayak out, however, you should strongly consider liability insurance. Once again, any injury or damage that someone suffers on your vessel can rebound back on you. Additionally, you may want to insure your kayak to protect it from theft or vandalism. Many fishing kayaks and canoes today can cost up to $1-2k. Hull insurance is likely to be cheap, and if someone steals it off your car or out of your garage, insurance can help you replace it. Click Here for more information on kayak insurance.

The Stats

Indiana is nothing if not consistent. For the last five years, Indiana has steadily seen around 40 boating accidents per year. That consistency is somewhat reassuring. With nearly 2% of the nation’s boats, Indiana suffers less than 1% of its boating accidents. Nevertheless, boating accidents are expensive, no matter how low the statistics. Indiana boating accidents led to $152,698 in damages, averaging nearly $4,000 per accident. Boat insurance for most of us costs a fraction of that figure, and can save you thousands more, depending on the accident.

Indiana boating accident stats 2016

Boating Fatalities and Alcohol

The boating fatality rate in Indiana is similarly consistently low. Indiana did see a 1-point increase in the fatality rate from 2015, but remained well below the national average. Obviously, any boating death is one too many, and we should all take steps to ensure our safety, and the safety of our passengers on the water. We take on certain inherent risks when we leave shore for any reason, and so staying alert and vigilant is vital.

Alcohol is one of the largest threats to boating safety. Nearly 30% of Indiana’s boating deaths occurred in accidents related to alcohol-usage. In contrast to Indiana’s relatively low fatality rate, fatalities occurred in 50% of boating accidents attributed to alcohol. That statistic is prominent nation-wide. Alcohol-related boating accidents are far more likely to end in tragedy than other boating accidents. Please, any time you leave shore, designate a non-drinking operator. It is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the water.

We know that insurance can’t protect you from everything. It won’t keep your vessel out of a storm or prevent accidents. It’s no fun to pay a premium on something you hope you’ll never need, It can protect your finances, however, if an accident occurs, and save you thousands of dollars.