Despite a national (and oversimplified) perception of Texas as a desert state, Texans know how boat-friendly much of the Lone Star State is.

Texas boat insurance

Sure, this is Texas…

Austin boat insurance

But so is this…

In fact, Texas has more square miles of inland water than any other state in the country. In addition, the 367 miles of coastline on the Gulf of Mexico make Texas a prime state for cruisers, and anglers.

Texas coastal insurance

Yep, also Texas…

Commercially, Texas’ gulf ports are busy year-round. Ports in Texas employ 1 million people, and the Port of Houston is the 2nd busiest port in the United States, and the 10th busiest in the world.

But commercial shipping is only the beginning. 21% of Texans engage in recreational boating in some capacity. That’s 1.8 million households out on the water. Many of those boaters are anglers. The options for fishing are plentiful, from the myriad lakes and streams of inland Texas, to the Gulf coast, with its much larger (and more dangerous) prey. Texas, like much of the country, has also seen a significant surge in PWC usage, both by residents, and by tourists.  Whatever your chosen activity or vessel, we highly recommend that you get Texas boat insurance to protect your boat, yourself, and your family.

Texas Boat Insurance

So, are you required to buy Texas boat insurance? The short answer is no. Much like most of the country, Texas does not require boat insurance for registered vessels. The state government does highly recommend insurance, however, given the state’s relatively high accident rate. In light of the the risks, you certainly should get insurance, but you may not have a choice. This requirement exists primarily in two circumstances:

  1. Loans: If you use a loan to buy your boat and keep it in Texas, your lender will likely require you to get Texas boat insurance. In fact, if the lender doesn’t require you to get insurance, you should find a different lender. It makes sense that your lender would require insurance for your boat. They have a net loss of several thousand (or hundred thousand) dollars until your loan is paid off. If the boat is in an accident or sinks, they don’t want to lose that money. Your policy will list the bank or other lender as the lien-holder. In the event of an accident, your insurance check would list them as the co-payee.
  2. Marinas: Most marinas, yacht clubs, and dockyards throughout Texas require you to show proof of insurance if you plan to dock there. Their reasons are simple. If your boat damages another, they want you to have the means to cover it. Obviously this stipulation does not apply if you keep your boat on a trailer or in a garage.

Small Boat Insurance

So, what if you don’t keep your boat anywhere near a marina and have it paid off? Does Texas boat insurance still make sense for you? It’s a reasonable question. Nearly 10% of Texans use kayaks or canoes. Kayaks are becoming the go-to affordable fishing platforms in much of the U.S., including Texas. In addition, plenty of people have paid off their pontoon or speed boat, and simply launch them when they go boating. Even in such instances, we highly recommend insurance for everyone. You can read more about pontoon boat insurance here. There are excellent reasons to buy insurance for small boats, even if you don’t strictly need to.

So, let’s think about kayak insurance. After all, you’re not overly likely to run anything over in a boat that slow. If you tend to go out on your own, you can probably get away without liability insurance. As long as you don’t repeatedly ram yachts on a regular basis, you’re unlikely to need property damage. The big exception is if you let someone else use your canoe or kayak. Anyone other than you, your spouse, or your children has grounds to sue you for damages if they injure themselves on your vessel, even if they’re alone in your kayak. It may not be entirely fair, but  it is important to protect yourself. If you lend out your kayak, (and certainly if you rent it), make sure you have some level of personal injury liability insurance.

If your family are the only operators, you likely don’t need liability insurance. You may still want to insure your kayak itself, however, 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

The Stats

Texas suffers more accidents every year than every state except Florida, California, and New York. Last year, their 176 federally reported accidents led to $985,000 in damages. That’s about $5,600 per accident, many times what boat insurance costs for most of us.

Texas boating accident statistics

Unfortunately, Texas also had more boating deaths last year than 48 other states, half of which were due to alcohol. It is imperative when you head out on the water that you designate a driver who doesn’t drink. In addition, you need to protect yourself with insurance. Many of Texas’ waterways are busy, and it is far too easy to find yourself in an accident when people on the water have been drinking. Those are statistics that you don’t want to be a part of.

Texas Hurricane Insurance

Texas has generally received little attention for its susceptibility to Hurricanes. That all changed when Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a category 4 hurricane, causing immense damage to Houston and Corpus Christi, as well as the surrounding area. Much of the national attention has since focused on home insurance, and with good reason, as Harvey, and the flooding it brought, caused billions of dollars in damage. The damage was not limited to homes, however. All across Texas’ Gulf Coast, boats were washed up on shore by waves, by the storm surge, or by the precipitation that brought massive flooding to the region. Photos from Rockport show boats deposited inside the ruins of buildings after the storm.

Neither the frequency nor the severity of these storms appear to be decreasing any time soon. It is therefore imperative to purchase hurricane insurance if you live in the Gulf Coast region of Texas. Your insurance company is likely to require you to take certain actions to protect your boat in the event of a hurricane. These can include, but are not limited to:

  1. Moving your boat to a safe harbor
  2. Taking your boat out of the water, and moving it to an indoor facility,
  3. Covering your boat with a tarp, ensuring all through-hulls, windows, and entrances are sealed against weather.

You should make sure you understand those terms and follow them in order to get your claim processed if something happens. Hurricane insurance is impossibly difficult to find once a storm kicks up. Insurance companies have no incentive to provide new hurricane plans when they know a hurricane is about to hit. It will cost you a little more to have Hurricane insurance year-round, and if you don’t need it, you might feel cheated. It’s hard to pay more for insurance that you hope you’ll never need, but it is important to protect yourself. Generally by the time you know you need it, it’s already too late.