New Hampshire

New Hampshire is unique in its geography and boating culture. Boating is extremely popular in New Hampshire. Only 94,800 registered boats exist in the state,  43% participation rate, and 45% ownership rate. That’s right, more people in New Hampshire own boats than use them. This vibrant boating culture exists despite the fact that New Hampshire is 4.2% water, and has only 18 miles of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. New Hampshire makes up for the dearth of coastline with numerous rivers and lakes across the state. The largest of these is Lake Winnipesaukee, which, at 44,586 acres is more than large enough to meet all your boating needs.

New Hampshire Boat Insurance

So, are you required to have boat insurance in New Hampshire? Not according to the state government. Much like most other states, New Hampshire’s state government does not require insurance on any watercraft. However, also like most other states, certain circumstances do require New Hampshire boat insurance.

  • Loans: If you use a loan to buy a vessel in New Hampshire, your lender will almost certainly require you to buy New Hampshire boat insurance. In fact, if your lender does not prescribe some level of insurance, you should probably find another lender. From the lender’s perspective, it would be foolish not to require insurance. Until your loan is paid off, your lender is several thousand dollars in the hole. Your boat is their collateral on that loan to ensure that you pay. If your boat sinks, your lender doesn’t want to lose that money. Your insurance policy will list the lender as the lien-holder. If you need to file a claim at any point, your check will list your lender as the co-payee.
  • Marinas: Most marinas, yacht clubs, and dockyards in New Hampshire will require insurance. Much like lenders, marinas want to shield themselves financially from the actions of their members. If your boat damages another vessel in their waters, they want to avoid litigation. They would much rather 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. As we’ve mentioned New Hampshire has only 18 miles of ocean coastline. As a result, very few boaters own large fishing vessels or yachts. Because so much boating occurs on smaller lakes, the vast majority of vessels are speed boats, pontoon boats, Jet Skis, and kayaks. Some people keep their power boat at a local yacht club or marina, but many New Hampshire residents either dock at home, or keep their boat on a trailer.

So if that’s your situation, does New Hampshire boat insurance still make sense? It’s a reasonable question. Nearly 36% of New Hampshire households use kayaks or canoes, according to the latest survey. Kayaks are some of the most common affordable fishing platforms across much of the U.S.. New Hampshire residents use them at about double the national rate. Kayaks’ shallow drafts allow them access to some incredible fishing locales in smaller lakes and rivers that are inaccessible to larger craft. In addition, many New Hampshire residents have paid off their pontoon or speed boat, and keep them at home. Many of us only launch our boats when we actually go boating. Even so, we highly recommend insurance for everyone.  Boat insurance can be extremely important for small boats, even if it isn’t required.

Liability Coverage

Power boats should absolutely always have insurance. In America every year, open motorboats are involved in more accidents and fatalities than any other boat type, including Jet Skis. Even if your vessel is paid off, you should definitely buy liability insurance for both property damage and personal injury. Just about any power boat can go too fast, and accidents on the water can be ruinous. Liability coverage is generally affordable, and it can wind up saving you thousands.

You particularly need insurance 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 at least consider New Hampshire boat insurance for canoes and kayaks. The case for liability insurance is tougher to make for kayaks, as it is hard to paddle into something hard enough to cause real damage. However, the note above about injuries on a borrowed boat still very much applies to kayaks. If you and your immediate family are the only users, you probably don’t need liability insurance, though it’s generally cheap and never hurts to have. You should also consider insuring your kayak itself to protect it from theft or vandalism. Many newer fishing canoes and kayaks can cost $1-2k, and hull insurance is likely under $100. If someone steals it off your car or out of your garage, you want to be able to replace it. Click Here for more information on kayak insurance.

The Stats

New Hampshire unfortunately suffers an outsized number of accidents for its size. It’s 94,806 registered boats only account for .8% of the nation’s total. However, its 76 accidents account for 1.7% of the country’s, nearly twice as high. And those accidents were not cheap. Damages in 2016 cost $664,900 in damages, or about $8,700 per accident. That is a hefty chunk of money, and far more than insurance costs for most of us.

New Hampshire boating accident statistics 2016

In addition, the fatality rate in New Hampshire was well above the national average. New Hampshire had a higher fatality rate than all but 7 states. Such statistics are sobering and indicate how far we still need to go. Our recreational use of the nation’s waterways is inherently risky. Even minor accidents on the water can become dangerous very quickly. Every boater needs to be responsible and attentive every time we leave port. Encouragingly, New Hampshire has seen very few reported accidents where alcohol was a contributing factor. That has consistently been the case for the last few years. Alcohol use is tied to numerous accidents and fatalities all across the country. If you intend to go out boating, make sure to designate a driver who doesn’t drink. It can save your life and the lives of those around you.

Now, obviously insurance can’t protect you from everything. It can’t prevent an accident or keep you safe in a storm. Even so, it will absorb much of your financial risk. That is why we strongly recommend insurance on every vessel. It can, at the very least, help protect your finances if an accident occurs.

35.9% use canoe or Kayak

45% boat ownership rate