Although Utah is generally famous for its dry climate and skiing, such notoriety fails to account for Utah’s geographic diversity. Utah has both high mountains and arid desert in abundance, but is also 3% water by surface area. The Beehive State has roughly 100 boatable lakes across the state, some of them, like Lake Powell, more than 160,000 square surface acres.

Utah does not have a huge number of registered boats, but sees impressive boating participation nevertheless. In 2016 Utah registered 65,087 boats, an extraordinarily small percentage of national registrations. However, Utah also saw 28% household recreational boating participation, slightly above the national average. Marinas and yacht clubs pepper the state, and Utah offers more opportunities to fish, water ski, raft, and relax than many states across the country. Utah might be the second driest state in the country, but you wouldn’t know it from its boating culture.

Utah Boat Insurance

So, does Utah require boat insurance? You bet it does. Utah is one of only two states in the U.S to require boat insurance on motor boats. These requirements include:

  • Any motorboat over 50hp is required to have liability insurance
  • Any PWC of any size must possess liability insurance
  • Minimum insurance requirements are: $25,000-/$50,000 bodily injury/death  – $15,000 property damage or $65,000 combined minimum per accident.
  • Motor boats under 50hp and Jet boats are exempt and do not need to have liability insurance.
  • Applicable vessels must have proof of insurance on board whenever they are on the water.

Now, we should note, Utah does not require you to insure your own vessel against damage. The state requirement only concerns liability insurance to ensure that you pay if you cause property damage or bodily injury to another party.

Hull Insurance

In addition to the Utah state insurance requirements, you may find that other agencies will require you to insure your own vessel. these include:

  • Loans: If you purchase your vessel in Utah and plan to keep it there, you will need to purchase Utah boat insurance to cover your own vessel in addition to the state requirement. In fact, your bank or lender will likely 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, as they are out several 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 Utah require insurance too. Marinas, like lenders, want to shield themselves financially in the case of an accident. Marina insurance limits may be higher than the state requirement if they worry that an accident will cause damage that is likely to exceed that value. 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

So, if you don’t own a motor boat, should you still consider Utah boat insurance? It’s a reasonable question. 13% of Utahans use a canoe or kayak as their primary vessel. We nevertheless highly recommend Utah 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 ever lend your kayak to anyone, you should absolutely buy liability insurance. 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.

You may also find it worthwhile to insure your kayak itself to protect it from theft or vandalism. A new fishing kayak or canoes can cost $1-2k. 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

Utah sees an immense number of reported boating accidents per capita. With .6% of the country’s registered boats, Utah saw over 2% of its boating accidents in 2016. That reflected a spike in accidents of 19% over the previous year. Boating accidents are expensive in Utah too. Utahans accrued $985,087 in 2016, for an average of nearly $10,500 per accident. For the vast majority of boaters, boat insurance is a fraction of that cost, and could save you thousands more than that.

Utah boating accident statistics

Boating Fatalities and Alcohol

Utah’s boating fatality rate in 2016 was a couple points above the national average. As with Colorado and other whitewater rafting states, Utah’s greatest boating draw is also its greatest danger. boating is always inherently dangerous, but whitewater rafting leads to more injuries and fatalities than, say, lake fishing. Of course, any boating fatality is one too many, but those of us who love the water accept the risks that come hand-in-hand with our recreation. All we can do is remain vigilant and aware any time we leave shore, and do our best to keep our vessel and its passengers safe, whatever type of boat it is.

Alcohol greatly impairs our ability to handle a vessel. Even in a majority-mormon state like Utah, boating under the influence is an issue. Only 5% of all Utah boating accidents involved alcohol, but 20% of the boating fatalities occurred in alcohol-related accidents. That trend is a national one. boating accidents are simply more deadly when alcohol is involved. Please, any time you head out on the water, designate an operator who won’t drink. It is one of the most important things you can do for your own safety and the safety of others on the water.

We know that insurance can’t protect you from everything. It won’t keep you out of an accident, or keep your boat safe. Utah does require it, however, and it is truly important to mitigate the financial damage you could suffer. Insurance can save you thousands in the event of an accident and protect you and your family financially.