The Land of Enchantment is notably not the “Land of Large Bodies of Water”. New Mexico is .2% water, and the most traveled portion of the state, from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, is pretty low on water with dry riverbeds aplenty, and not much in the way of boating unless you drop your kayak off a mountain. Go outside that corridor, however, and you might find more boating opportunities than you expect. The largest lakes are Elephant Butte, Navajo Lake, and Conchas, but there are several others sporadically across the state. Such lakes aren’t necessarily yacht-friendly, but they are more than large enough for power boats, pontoon boats, and sailing dinghies. A couple, like Elephant Butte even have full service marinas.
Boating participation is low across the state. New Mexico has 33,780 registered boats. New Mexico households report 11.5% boating participation, which is about half the national average. In addition, only 10% of New Mexico households own a vessel. Most New Mexico boat owners use their boats to fish, as many of the lakes across the state have excellent fishing. Boating may not be the first (or tenth) thing you think of when you think of New Mexico, but for a small group of New Mexicans, boating is surprisingly popular.
New Mexico Boat Insurance
So, does New Mexico require you to buy boat insurance? Unsurprisingly, it does not. The state of New Mexico has no requirements regarding boat insurance for recreational vessels. We certainly recommend New Mexico 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:
- Loans: If you purchase a vessel in New Mexico with the assistance of a loan, your lender will most likely require New Mexico 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.
- Marinas: Most marinas in New Mexico (such as they are) 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. New Mexico is far from the ocean, and has few major marinas or yacht clubs. As a result, most New Mexico residents keep their boat on a trailer.
If that’s your situation, does New Mexico boat insurance still make sense? It’s a reasonable question. 5% of New Mexico 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.
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.
You should also at least consider New Mexico 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
New Mexico saw a 50% increase in reported boating accidents last year. Those accidents led to $21,200 in total damages. In addition, 2 people died boating in New Mexico in 2016, and 11 were injured. The boating fatality rate was right in line with the national average, while the injury rate was fairly high. Any boating death is one too many, but boating always carries some inherent risk. Our enjoyment of our rivers, lakes, and reservoirs demands our attention and consideration. Any accident can become a tragedy in an instant, so we must remain alert any time we leave shore.
Accidents in which alcohol is involved are far more likely to result in death than other boating accidents. Fortunately, New Mexico recorded no boating accidents or deaths attributed to alcohol last year. That is extremely uncommon nationally, as the country saw a significant increase in both last year. Please, every time you leave shore, designate an operator who will not drink. It is one of the biggest things you can do to ensure your own safety and the safety of your passengers.
We know that boat insurance doesn’t protect against every eventuality. It can’t keep your boat from getting into an accident. However, it does protect you and your family financially in the event of an accident. It is usually affordable, and it can save you thousands.