New York

If you live in any other state in the country, you might mistakenly generalize all of New York as New York City. Indeed, while New York City is home to 40% of the state’s population (and receives majority of its headlines), There is far more to the Empire State than just its largest city. New York State is 13.5% water with numerous substantial lakes and rivers. Most famous of these are probably the Finger Lakes in Western New York and Lake Champlain in the North. In addition, the Erie Canal and Hudson river provide the unique ability to explore the state by water. New York also has shoreline on two of the Great Lakes, and the Atlantic Ocean, the only state in the nation to have both.

With such varied opportunities, it is unsurprising that New York falls in the top 10, nation-wide for boat registration. with 448,480 registered boats, New York has a a 27% boating participation rate. This rate is somewhat skewed, as well. The population of New York City is a large percentage of the state’s population, and most residents of NYC do not boat. Across the rest of the state, however, boating rates are high, as many New Yorkers take advantage of the state’s natural wonders.

New York Boat Insurance

So, does New York require boat insurance? New York, like most other states, does not require insurance on registered vessels. The New York state government highly recommends it, however, and you may still need to buy New York boat insurance in certain circumstances.

  • Loans:If you purchase your vessel in New York and plan to keep it there, you will need to purchase New York boat insurance. In fact, your bank or lender will not approve your loan without proof of some insurance. If your lender doesn’t require boat insurance, you may not be dealing with a trustworthy lender. The bank wants to protect their investment, and they see insurance as a key aspect of that protection. The lender is out several thousand (or hundred thousand) dollars until you pay back your loan. The boat is their collateral, so that they can seize it if you fail to pay. If your boat is in an accident or sinks without insurance, that collateral disappears. Therefore, many lenders include specific language in their loan policies to call in the full remaining price of the boat if your insurance lapses. Your lender will probably appear on your insurance policy as the lien-holder. If you need to file a claim, your insurance check will then list your lender as the co-payee.
  • Marinas: Most marinas, yacht clubs, and dockyards in New York require insurance too. Marinas, like lenders, want to shield themselves financially in the case of an accident. If you collide with another boat in the marina, the establishment doesn’t want to be drawn into any litigation. They would prefer that your respective insurance companies take care of any accident.

Small Boat Insurance

Now you obviously don’t need to worry about marina requirements if you keep your boat on a trailer or in a garage. Sure, people around the country may only think of New York City and New York Harbor when they think about boating in New York. Most New York residents, however, are perfectly happy trailering their speed boats, pontoon boats, Jet Skis, or kayaks to launch ramps across the state. Of course, you may keep your power boat at a local yacht club or marina. However, if so, you probably know whether you need insurance already.

So, if you don’t own a yacht, should you still consider New York boat insurance? It’s a reasonable question. 17% of New York residents use a canoe or kayak as their primary vessel. Plenty of New Yorkers have paid off their pontoon or speed boat, and keep them at home. We nevertheless highly recommend insurance for everyone. Boat insurance can still be vital for many small boats.

Liability Coverage

Liability insurance on your power boat is basically necessary. Every year, open motorboats cause more boating accidents and fatalities than any other style of boat, including Jet Skis. Even if you have paid off your boat, you should still purchase property damage and personal injury liability insurance. Any boat that drives fast can drive too fast, and accidents on the water can quickly turn tragic. Liability coverage may save you thousands in damages, and it is usually affordable.

You should also buy liability insurance on any boat you lend out, no matter the style. If someone outside of your immediate family injures themselves or another person on your boat, you can absolutely be held liable, even if you were not present. In addition, speed boats, Jet Skis, and pontoon boats can be expensive. If your vessel suffers any sort of accident, you want a policy that will help you buy a new boat, or at least cover repairs. You can read more about pontoon boat insurance here, and power boat insurance here if you remain unconvinced.

Self-Propelled Boats

You should also consider New York boat insurance, even for canoes and kayaks. Obviously, it’s difficult to paddle a kayak hard enough into another boat to cause real damage, so you may feel that liability insurance isn’t worth it. Even so, if you lend your kayak to anyone, you should absolutely buy liability insurance for the reasons we’ve outlined above. You may also find it worthwhile to insure your kayak itself to protect it from theft or vandalism. Fishing kayaks and canoes can cost $1-2k, new. Hull insurance, on the other hand, is often under $100. If someone steals your kayak out of your garage or off of your roof rack, you may want the help to replace it. Click Here for more information on kayak insurance.

The Stats

New York suffered 188 boating accidents in 2016. That is more accidents than any state except 2, Florida and California. New York’s share of accidents is not significantly higher than its share of registered boats. With 3.8% of the Nation’s boats, New York accounted for 4.2% of its accidents. Such accidents cost $1,308,000 in damages, or nearly $7,000 per accident. A high percentage of the accidents in New York State can be attributed to the New York Harbor, at the entrance to the Port of New York and New Jersey. The confluence of two rivers, and the high volume of boat traffic can make for a confusing mess, with accidents the inevitable result.

New York boating accident statistics

No matter where they occur, boating accidents always carry substantial risk. New York accounted for 3.1% of the nation’s boating fatalities in 2016. The majority of fatal accidents occurred around New York Harbor and at the mouth of the Erie Canal on Lake Erie. Our exploration of the nation’s rivers, and lakes, and coastlines is inherently risky. The presence of alcohol enhances this danger. in 2016, alcohol contributed to 9.5% of the accidents in New York, but nearly 30% of the fatalities. Any time you leave shore you must have a designated operator who doesn’t drink.

Having insurance won’t protect you from every eventuality. We know that. Even so, we strongly recommend insurance on every vessel. At the very least it can help protect you and your family financially if an accident occurs.