Most outsiders considering Nevada have trouble thinking beyond Las Vegas. Those who do imagine it as a desert-state, akin to New Mexico or Arizona. Neither of these perceptions is inaccurate, exactly, but they are far from the whole picture. Nevada is the driest state in the country, but its southwestern border with California includes Lake Tahoe, and the Colorado River makes up much of its border with Arizona. It is on that border that the famous Hoover Dam lies, providing electricity to much of the surrounding area. In addition, the Humboldt River runs across the northern portion of the state, and several rivers flow eastward, among them the Carson and Walker Rivers.

Nevadans registered 42,426 boats in 2016. That is the 6th-fewest boats in the nation. Nevertheless, Nevada saw 18% household participation in recreational boating in 2016. That is several points lower than the national average, but nearly 20% participation isn’t bad in a state with the relative scarcity of water that Nevada has. 13.8% of Nevada households own their own vessel, which is also well below the national average. Just about half of all boaters in Nevada fish in its various rivers and lakes. Other boaters prefer power boats or Jet skis, which provide a welcome opportunity to head out on the water and cool off from the hot Nevada sun. Boating may be less common in Nevada than elsewhere, but those that get the chance, relish the opportunity.

Nevada Boat Insurance

So, does Nevada require you to buy boat insurance? Unsurprisingly, it does not. The state of Nevada has no requirements regarding boat insurance for recreational vessels. We certainly recommend Nevada 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 Nevada with the assistance of a loan, your lender will most likely require Nevada 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 Nevada 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. Nevada is far from the ocean, and has few major marinas or yacht clubs. As a result, most Nevada residents keep their boat on a trailer.

If that’s your situation, does Nevada boat insurance still make sense? It’s a reasonable question. Nearly 5% of Nevada 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 Nevada 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

Nevada saw a 20% boating accident increase in 2016. Given the small number of Registered boats in Nevada, the accident numbers are concerning. With only .4% of the nation’s boats, Nevada sees more than 1% of its accidents. One presumes that given the relatively few bodies of water, on which to boat in Nevada, the density of boats on nice days contributes to the high number of accidents. Such accidents tend to get expensive too. In 2016, damages in boating accidents added up to $168,307. That averages to about $3,500 per accident, with several costing thousands more.

Nevada boating accident statistics 2016

Boating Fatalities and Alcohol

Nevada did not see a huge number of boating fatalities in 2016, but given the small number of registered boats, the fatality rate was nevertheless higher than the national average. Any death is one too many, and we need to always remember that we take our lives into our own hands any time we head out on the water. Boating has some inherent risks, and we need to do all we can to mitigate them.

Alcohol increases the risks of boating dramatically. Although Nevada did see a few alcohol-related boating accidents in 2016, for the first time in several years, Nevada recorded no alcohol-related boating fatalities. Given the frequency of boating deaths in which alcohol is a contributing factor, Nevada’s numbers are encouraging, but we can always do better. Please, any time you head out on a boat, designate a non-drinking operator. It is one of the most important things you can do for your own safety and for the safety of others on the water.

We know that insurance can’t protect you from everything. it won’t keep your boat from an accident or keep you safe on the water. No one enjoys paying for something that they hope to never use. However, insurance can help protect you and your family financially in the event of an accident.