Ohio enjoys 312 miles of shoreline on Lake Erie, as well as 2,200 lakes of 5 acres or larger. The boating participation rate in Ohio is lower than it is in much of the midwest, but is still fairly high by national standards. Roughly 1/4 of all Ohio households participate in boating each year. Many cruisers come through Cleveland as they traverse the Great Loop. Sailors, anglers, and power-boaters ply Lake Erie’s surprisingly shallow waters. Whatever your chosen boat-based activity, you can find it in Ohio.

Ohio Boat Insurance

So, does Ohio require boat insurance? Nope. Like most other states, Ohio’s state government does not require insurance on any boat type. Even so, you may find that you’re required to buy Ohio boat insurance anyway in certain circumstances.

  • Loans: If you need a loan to buy a vessel in Ohio, your lender will probably require you to buy Ohio boat insurance. Really, if your lender does not make boat insurance a stipulation for your loan, you should probably find a different lender. Indeed, it would be silly for any lender to forego the insurance requirement. Until your loan is paid off, your lender has spent several thousand (or hundred thousand) dollars with no return. Their collateral on that loan is your boat. If you stop paying your loan off, they can seize your boat to make up the difference.  If your boat were in an accident, however, and became worthless, it would also become useless as collateral. Your lender doesn’t want to lose that money, hence the insurance stipulation. The lender is likely to appear on your insurance policy as the lien-holder. If you need to file a claim, the check from your insurer will then list your lender as the co-payee.
  • Marinas: Most marinas, yacht clubs, and dockyards in Ohio will require insurance. The reasons are simple. Marinas want to protect themselves financially from any mistakes their members make. If your vessel damages another member’s boat, the marina wants to avoid litigation. They would vastly prefer your respective insurance companies take care of the issue.

Small Boat Insurance

So, if you keep your boat on a trailer or in a garage, you clearly don’t care about marina requirements. Ohio has 312 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, but the majority of boaters are on rivers and lakes across the state. Most boaters therefore operate speed boats, pontoon boats, Jet Skis, and kayaks. You can easily store all of these vessels on a trailer, and simply launch them when you need them

In that case, if you aren’t worried about marinas or loans, should you still consider Ohio boat insurance? It’s a reasonable question. Roughly 11% of Ohio households boat in kayaks or canoes. Kayaks are becoming the most popular affordable fishing platforms across much of the U.S., including Ohio. Such vessels are relatively inexpensive, lightweight, and you can usually transport them on a roof rack.  In addition, many folks have paid off their pontoon or speed boat, and keep them at home. Nevertheless, we highly recommend boat insurance for everyone.  Insurance is extremely important for small boats, even if the state of Ohio doesn’t require it..

Liability Coverage

You should always purchase liability insurance for a power boat. Across the United States, every year, open motorboats are involved in more accidents than any other boat type. Even if your vessel is paid off, you should buy liability insurance to cover property damage and personal injury. Any boat with an engine can be driven dangerously. We obviously never expect accidents, but on the water any accident can turn tragic quickly. Liability coverage is usually reasonably affordable, and it can save you thousands if you need it.

Any boat you lend out should also have insurance, no matter how slow it is. If someone injures themselves or another person on your boat, you can be held liable, even if you were not present. In addition, Jet Skis, speed boats, and pontoon boats can be expensive. If your vessel gets into an accident, you will want insurance to help you recoup the damages.if you remain unconvinced, you can read more about pontoon boat insurance here, and power boat insurance here.

Self-Propelled Boats

You should also at least consider Ohio boat insurance for kayaks and canoes. We always recommend liability insurance on any vessel, including kayaks. Though we acknowledge that it is difficult to paddle into something hard enough to cause real damage. If you lend your kayak out, however, you should strongly consider liability insurance. Once again, any injury or damage that someone suffers on your vessel can rebound back on you. Additionally, you may want to insure your kayak to protect it from theft or vandalism. Many fishing kayaks and canoes today can cost up to $1-2k. Hull insurance is likely to be cheap, and if someone steals it off your car or out of your garage, insurance can help you replace it. Click Here for more information on kayak insurance.

The Stats

In 2016 Ohio saw an increase in accidents of 13% over the previous two years. That spike reflects similar data across much of the midwest and the country. Nationwide, boating accidents have risen around 8% over the past few years. With 505,000 boat registrations last year, Ohio falls in the middle of the midwest pack. Even so it surpasses much of the rest of the country with 4.3% of the nation’s registered vessels. It is also comparatively safer than most of the major coastal boating regions. Despite being home to 4.3% of the nation’s boats, Ohio residents only represented 2.5% of its accidents. Nevertheless, those accidents led to $893,170  in damages last year alone. That’s an average of nearly $8,000 per accident, which is far more than most of us are likely to pay for boat insurance.

Ohio boating accident statistics

Ohio also brought down its boating accident fatalities by 45% over the past two years. Any death on the water is one too many, but such reductions are the goal of so many state licensing programs. It is worth remembering that our enjoyment of this nation’s waterways carries a risk every time we venture out. If you plan to bring alcohol with you, make sure you have a designated operator who does not drink. Alcohol is involved in far too many boating accidents and fatalities nation-wide. We know that insurance can’t protect you from everything, but we strongly recommend it for every vessel as financial protection for you and your loved ones in the event of an accident.