The Sooner State might not strike outsiders as a boating haven. It is extremely landlocked, several hundred miles from the sea, but it makes up for it with 1,281 square miles of inland water. Oklahoma has about 500 rivers and creeks spreading across the state, along with about 200 man-made lakes. In fact, Oklahoma has more man-made lakes than any other state in the country.

Oklahoma may be only 1.8% water by landmass, but that doesn’t stop Oklahomans (or Okies) from boating. in 2016, Oklahoma registered 202,388 boats, 22nd in the country, despite ranking 28th in population. Oklahoma sees about 27% household boating participation, and 22.7% of households own their own vessel. Given its position relative to the ocean, Oklahoma is not a particularly yacht-friendly state. Oklahoma provides plenty of space, however, for power-boats, Jet Skis, and kayaks. The vast majority of Okie boaters use their vessels for fishing, which is popular state-wide.

Oklahoma Boat Insurance

So, does Oklahoma require boat insurance? It probably won’t surprise you to learn that it does not. Oklahoma is much like most other states and does not require boat insurance on any vessel. However, you may need to buy Oklahoma boat insurance anyway.

  • Loans: If you buy a vessel in Oklahoma with a loan, you will need to purchase Oklahoma boat insurance. Your lender will require it. In fact, if your lender does not require boat insurance of some sort, you may want to find another lender. Your lender is highly incentivized to require insurance because it protects their investment as much as it protects yours. Your lender is several thousand dollars in the hole until you pay your loan off. The boat functions as collateral to ensure that you pay. If your boat is in an accident or sinks, your lender doesn’t want to lose that money. Your lender will appear on the insurance policy as the lien-holder. Your insurance check will then list your lender as the co-payee if you need to file a claim.
  • Marinas: Most marinas, yacht clubs, and dockyards in Oklahoma require insurance to dock there. Marinas, like lenders, want to shield themselves financially in the case of an accident. If your vessel damages another, the marina doesn’t want any part of it. They would vastly prefer that 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. Oklahoma isn’t exactly overflowing with marinas or yacht clubs, as such establishments are more common on larger lakes and oceans. The vast majority of vessels in Oklahoma are speed boats, pontoon boats, Jet Skis, and kayaks. Most Oklahomans either dock at home, or keep their boat on a trailer.

So, should you still consider Oklahoma boat insurance? It’s a reasonable question. 8.4% of Oklahomans use a canoe or kayak, and plenty of folks have already paid off their pontoon or speed boat, and keep them at home. Nevertheless, we highly recommend boat insurance, even for small vessels.

Liability Coverage

For starters, you should always have insurance on your power boat. Open motorboats are involved in more accidents and fatalities every year than any other boat type.That includes Jet Skis, which people generally perceive as more dangerous. Even if you’ve paid your boat off, you should at least buy property damage and personal injury liability insurance. Any power boat is capable of going too fast, and accidents on the water can be catastrophic. Liability coverage can wind up saving you thousands, and it is is usually affordable.

You need liability insurance especially 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 think about Oklahoma boat insurance for canoes and kayaks. Now, we know that it is difficult to paddle a kayak into something hard enough to cause real damage, so you may feel that liability insurance isn’t worth the money. Nevertheless, if you lend your kayak out, you should buy liability insurance for the same reasons outlined above. Furthermore, you may find it worthwhile to insure your kayak itself in order to protect it from theft or vandalism. New fishing kayaks and canoes can cost $1-2k, which is a real amount of money.  Hull insurance, on the other hand, is likely under $100. If someone steals it out of your garage or off your car, you want to be able to replace it. Click Here for more information on kayak insurance.

The Stats

Unlike much of the rest of the country, Oklahoma saw a significant drop in boating accidents in 2016. Accidents from 2015 dropped 24%, and Oklahoma was well below the national average for boating accidents per capita. Nevertheless, Oklahoma boating accidents were cripplingly expensive. In fact, they were more expensive than in any other state in the union. Accidents in Oklahoma totaled $1,350,020 in damages, which averages to about $30,700 per accident. That is already an immense sum, but several accidents were thousands more than that. Damages from Oklahoma’s boating accidents were higher than in any other state. For the vast majority of us, boat insurance costs orders of magnitude below $30k. The disparity there should leave no doubt. In the event of an accident $30k is enough to leave many of us in bankruptcy.

Oklahoma boating accident statistics

Boating Fatalities and Alcohol

Oklahoma also suffered fewer boating fatalities than most other states. Oklahoma’s boating fatality rate was about half the national average in 2016. Oklahoma saw a 62% reduction in boating deaths from 2015-2016, which was not a trend that the rest of the nation enjoyed. Part of Oklahoma’s success must be attributed to the reduction in alcohol-related accidents. Oklahoma reduced the number of reported accidents attributed to alcohol by 40%, and the number of alcohol-induced deaths to 0. Now, any boating death is one too many, and we always need to be aware of the risks that are inherent in boating. We face potential unforeseen issues, and we must remain alert and cognizant of the dangers every time we go out on the water.

We know that insurance can be a tough pill to swallow. It is annoying to pay for something that you always hope you don’t need, and it can’t protect you or your boat from getting into accidents. It can protect you and your family financially if an accident occurs, however, and for that reason we strongly recommend it to all boaters, no matter your boat. Particularly in Oklahoma, where the average accident is so incredibly expensive, insurance is worth the cost.