Very few people associate Nebraska with boating. As it is a landlocked state with only .7% water, this perception is understandable. Nevertheless, Nebraska sees 28% boater participation rate every year. That is slightly higher than the national average (27%), and much higher than the averages of Hawaii (22%) and California (20%), two states with a great deal of ocean access.

Nebraska’s main boating attractions are the several large rivers that criss-cross the state. Nebraska has the Missouri River on its eastern border with Iowa, and 3 major rivers run its length from west to East. The Platte River runs through the center of the state, while the Niobrara runs along Nebraska’s north, and the Republican flows through the southern part. Nebraska may not be a state with a great deal of water, but what it has, it puts to use.

Nebraska Boat Insurance

So, does Nebraska require boat insurance? It probably won’t surprise you to learn that it does not. Nebraska is much like most other states and does not require boat insurance on any vessel. However, you may need to buy Nebraska boat insurance anyway.

  • Loans: If you buy a vessel in Nebraska with a loan, you will need to purchase Nebraska 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 Nebraska 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. Nebraska isn’t exactly overflowing with marinas or yacht clubs, as such establishments are more common on larger lakes and oceans. The vast majority of vessels in Nebraska are speed boats, pontoon boats, Jet Skis, and kayaks. Most Nebraskans either dock at home, or keep their boat on a trailer.

So, should you still consider Nebraska boat insurance? It’s a reasonable question. 10.3% of Nebraskans use a canoe or kayak, and plenty of folks have already paid off their pontoon or speed boat, and keep them at home. Nevertheless, we highly recommend boat insurance, even for small vessels.

Liability Coverage

For starters, 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 Nebraska 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, on the other hand, 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

Nebraska’s rate of accidents is worryingly high. Despite accounting for only .7% of America’s registered boats, Nebraska suffers 3.1% of its boating accidents. That is a hugely outsized accident rate, and it is difficult to say why it exists. Most of the accidents in Nebraska are collisions, either with fixed objects or other vessels. Boating on rivers is trickier than on more stagnant bodies of water like lakes. As most of Nebraska’s boating occurs in rivers, stronger than expected current may be the main culprit for accidents. As always, any time you leave shore, your boat’s operation must demand your fullest attention.

Nebraska boating accident statistics

Those accidents were quite expensive too. In 2016 Nebraska’s boating accidents incurred 121,601 in damages. That averages out to roughly $5,500 in damages, and many accidents cost far more than that. Insurance costs far less than that figure for most of us, and it can help protect you from having to pay both for property damage, and medical bills.

Boating Fatality Rate

Nebraska’s fatality rate in boating accidents is extremely low. It was several points below the national average in 2016. In addition, Nebraska saw a 50% reduction in boating deaths from 2015-2016. Nebraska also avoided suffering any alcohol-related boating deaths. This has been a trend, as Nebraska has not reported any boating death related to alcohol for the past 4 years. That is an encouraging sign in a country where nearly 20% of boating deaths are alcohol-related. Obviously, past experience is no guarantee of future results. So if you intend to go boating, make sure you have an operator who doesn’t drink. It can save your life and the lives of those around you.

Obviously, we know that insurance cannot protect you from everything. It won’t prevent an accident. Even so, it will at least mitigate your financial risk. That’s why we recommend insurance on every vessel. It helps protect your family’s finances if an accident occurs.