Out-of-towners are more likely to associate Wyoming with National Parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton than with any sort of boating. Indeed, of the millions of tourists who come to Wyoming every year, relatively few visit much of the state beyond the bounds of the National Parks. In fairness, Wyoming has a lot of open space between its rivers and lakes. In one of the largest states in the country, water makes up only .7% of its landmass.

Even so, Wyoming residents manage to find boating opportunities, wherever they are. As of the last survey, 27% of Wyoming households reported boating recreationally. Boat ownership is exceedingly high in Wyoming too, as 26.4% of Wyoming households own a boat. Wyoming may not have the yachting culture that is more common on the coasts, but it has a higher boating participation rate than many states on the ocean. Plenty of locals enjoy taking their boats out to fish or relax, proving that you don’t need an ocean to have a good time on a boat.

Wyoming Boat Insurance

So, does Wyoming require boat insurance? Wyoming, like most other states, does not require insurance on registered vessels. You may still need to buy Wyoming boat insurance in certain circumstances, however.

  • Loans: If you purchase your vessel in Wyoming and plan to keep it there, you will need to purchase Wyoming boat insurance. 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, 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 Wyoming 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. Compared to the coastal states, Wyoming is home to very few marinas or yacht clubs on its rivers and lakes. Most Wyoming residents are perfectly happy trailering their speed boats, pontoon boats, Jet Skis, or kayaks to launch ramps across the state.

So, if you don’t own a yacht, should you still consider Wyoming boat insurance? It’s a reasonable question. 9.3% of Wyoming household use a canoe or kayak as their primary vessel. In addition, plenty of Wyoming residents have paid off their pontoon or speed boat, and keep them at home. We nevertheless highly recommend insurance for everyone. Boat insurance is still 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 suddenly become 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 Wyoming 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. 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

Wyoming saw a 27% drop in boating accidents from 2014-2016. Only Vermont had fewer accidents than Wyoming last year. Wyoming’s accidents were among the least expensive in the nation, too, with damages totaling $15,500. That averages to just over $1900 per accident.

Wyoming boating accident statistics

The boating fatality rate in Wyoming is truly concerning, however. It was about double the national average in 2016, and only 5 states saw a worse fatality rate. Nearly half of all boating accidents in Wyoming in 2016 resulted in a fatality. Of those fatalities, 33% occurred in an accident attributed to alcohol. Leaving shore in a boat already carries inherent dangers, and alcohol enhances those dangers extremely. Please, any time you leave shore, ensure that you designate a non-drinking operator. Crashes attributed to alcohol result in a far higher percentage of fatalities than other boating accidents. Appointing a DD is one of the most important decisions you can make for your safety and the safety of those around you.

We know that Insurance won’t protect you from everything. It can’t keep you out of an accident or prevent injury. What it can do, though, is protect you and your family financially in the case of an accident. Boat insurance is affordable, and it could wind up saving you thousands.