Although Missouri may not remind strike anyone as a major boating state, non-geography majors likely forget that it is home to two massive rivers. Both the Missouri and the Mississippi Rivers have been backbones of interstate trade in the last century. The eponymous Missouri bisects the state from west to east, flowing through both Kansas City and St. Louis. The Mississippi river, meanwhile, forms the state’s Eastern border. Although droughts have drastically diminished the amount of barge traffic on the Missouri River, The Mississippi River remains a vital transportation system. As of 2011, 60% of agricultural exports traversed some section of the Mississippi river waterway system.

Missouri also has numerous lakes of varying sizes to help scratch whatever boating itch you may have. 33% of Missouri residents boat recreationally each year. That’s an awfully high percentage for a landlocked state, and reflects how large a role water plays in the lives of Missourians. Various government projects have used the Missouri river to fill reservoirs. Recreational use of those reservoirs is estimated to bring in $85-$100 million each year. In 2016 there were 293,185 registered boats in Missouri. So this landlocked state that’s ranked 18th in population, ranks 14th in boat registration.

Missouri Boat Insurance

So, does Missouri require you to buy boat insurance? Unsurprisingly, it does not. The state of Missouri has no requirements regarding boat insurance for recreational vessels. We certainly recommend Missouri boat insurance, however, and the state government does too. Although not in the top 5, Missouri suffers more boating accidents per year than most states. So insurance is definitely a good idea, but you may find that you don’t have a choice. Certain entities require you to have insurance:

  1. Loans: If you purchase a vessel in Missouri with the assistance of a loan, your lender will most likely require Missouri 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 Missouri 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. Missouri is far from the ocean, and has few major marinas or yacht clubs. As a result, most Missouri residents to either dock at home, or keep their boat on a trailer.

If that’s your situation, does Missouri boat insurance still make sense? It’s a reasonable question. 14% of Missouri households use kayaks or canoes, according to the latest survey. Kayaks are becoming the go-to affordable fishing platforms in much of the U.S.. Missouri is no exception, as kayaks’ shallow drafts facilitate access to some incredible fishing locales that are inaccessible to larger craft. 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 Missouri 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

Missouri suffers slightly more boating accidents each year than the national average. With 2.5% of all registered boats in the U.S., Missouri sees just over 3% of its accidents. in addition, in 2016, reported accidents spiked 20% from 2015. And those accidents are expensive. In 2016, Missouri boating accidents incurred $1,178,494 in damages. That comes to an average of $8,600 per accident. For most of us, boat insurance is a fraction of that cost, and it could save you far more, both in medical bills and property damage.

Missouri boating accident statistics

The boating fatality rate in Missouri is slightly lower than the national average. In fact, from 2015-2016 boating fatalities dropped nearly 6%. In addition, fatalities from alcohol-induced accidents fell by 50% from 2013. That is encouraging in a country where 20% of all boating deaths occur in alcohol-related accidents. Nevertheless, any death is one too many. We must remember that our enjoyment of the nation’s waterways carries an inherent risk and a responsibility. If you’re leaving port, please make sure you have a designated operator on the boat who will not drink. Accidents on the water can become tragedies in an instant. Every boater should have an accident action plan in mind whenever they leave port.