Despite its small population relative to the rest of the country, Maine is a boating powerhouse. The state is home to 111,116 registered boats, and it has the highest boating participation rate in the country. In fact, 45.7% of Maine households, nearly half, go boating every year. Boat ownership in Maine is similarly highest in the nation, at 48.9%. It’s understandable. Maine has access to the Atlantic Ocean with 228 miles of coastline. The fishing industry is enormous in Maine. Lobster fishing predominates, with about 73% of the overall fishing trade in Maine. last year the fishing industry netted (sorry) $721 million in value. Offshore are thousands of rocky islands. Most of these islands are accessible only by boat, and some of them not accessible at all. In addition, the state of Maine is itself about 13% water, with numerous lakes, rivers, and tidal basins to explore by boat.

Maine Boat Insurance

So, does the Maine state government require boat insurance? No, it does not. Maine is much like most other states and does not require boat insurance on any watercraft. However, you may need to buy Maine boat insurance anyway.

  • Loans: If you buy a vessel in Maine with a loan, you will need to purchase Maine boat insurance. Your lender will require it. In fact, if your lender does not require boat insurance of some sort, you may want to find another lender. Your lender is highly incentivized to require insurance because it protects their investment as much as it protects yours. Your lender is several thousand dollars in the hole until you pay your loan off. The boat functions as collateral to ensure that you pay. If your boat is in an accident or sinks, your lender doesn’t want to lose that money. Your lender will appear on the insurance policy as the lien-holder. Your insurance check will then list your lender as the co-payee if you need to file a claim.
  • Marinas: Most marinas, yacht clubs, and dockyards in Maine require insurance to dock there. Marinas, like lenders, want to shield themselves financially in the case of an accident. If your vessel damages another, the marina doesn’t want any part of it. They would vastly prefer that your respective insurance companies take care of the fallout.

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. Maine’s substantial coastline provides ample space for fishing boats, cruising yachts, racing boats, and everything in between. Nevertheless, Maine possesses numerous small lakes and rivers where the vast majority of vessels are speed boats, pontoon boats, Jet Skis, and kayaks. It is often possible to keep your power boat at a local yacht club or marina, but most Maine residents either dock at home, or keep their boat on a trailer.

So, should you still consider Maine boat insurance? It’s a reasonable question. 37.7% of Maine residents use a canoe or kayak. That is an enormous percentage, compared to the rest of the country. In fact, no state has more kayaks per capita than Maine, and the only state to come close is Vermont. In addition, plenty of Maine residents have paid off their pontoon or speed boat, and keep them at home. Even so, we highly recommend insurance for everyone.  Boat insurance is extremely important for many small boats.

Liability Coverage

You should always have insurance on your power boat. Open motorboats are involved in more accidents and fatalities every year than any other boat type. That includes Jet Skis, which people generally perceive as more dangerous. Even if you’ve paid your boat off, you should at least buy property damage and personal injury liability insurance. Any power boat is capable of going too fast, and accidents on the water can be catastrophic. Liability coverage can wind up saving you thousands, and it is is usually affordable.

You need liability insurance especially on any boat you lend out. If someone injures themselves or another person on your boat, you can be held liable, even if you were not present. In addition, speed boats, Jet Ski’s, and pontoon boats are often expensive. If your vessel is involved in an accident, you want a policy that will 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 think about Maine boat insurance for canoes and kayaks. Now, we know that it is difficult to paddle a kayak into something hard enough to cause real damage, so you may feel that liability insurance isn’t worth the money. Nevertheless, if you lend your kayak out, you should buy liability insurance for the same reasons outlined above. Furthermore, you may find it worthwhile to insure your kayak itself in order to protect it from theft or vandalism. New fishing kayaks and canoes can cost $1-2k, which is a real amount of money.  Hull insurance, by contrast, is likely under $100. If someone steals it out of your garage or off your car, you want to be able to replace it. Click Here for more information on kayak insurance.

The Stats

In 2016, Maine suffered a large spike in accidents, up 50% over 2015. It roughly falls in line with Maine’s share of registered boats, but a spike of that size is always concerning. Boating accidents are almost always expensive, and you risk more than money. Those accidents wound up totaling roughly $737,200 in damages. The price tag was substantial, as that comes to about $15,000 per accident. For most of us, boat insurance costs a fraction of that figure.

Maine boating accident statistics 2016

Accidents on the water are always more dangerous than they are on land. Maine’s boating fatalities have remained fairly constant over the past couple years, but in 2016 they still occurred in nearly 20% of all accidents. That’s several percentage points higher than most other states.  Our enjoyment of our country’s shores, rivers, and lakes carries a risk every time we venture out. Alcohol enhances this danger. Make sure you have a designated operator who does not drink any time you leave shore.  Insurance obviously can’t protect you from everything. We know that. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend insurance for every vessel to protect you and your loved ones financially in the event of an accident.