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How to shop for personal watercraft insurance
Personal watercraft, also known as Jet Skis, WaveRunners, or Sea-Doos, can be a lot of fun. But, like all vehicles, they are subject to accidents. So, it’s smart to get personal watercraft insurance to protect yourself financially.
However, shopping for personal watercraft insurance can be a challenge, particularly if it's your first time. SuperMoney's comparison tools and personal watercraft insurance reviews can save you a lot of time when comparing PWC insurance companies.
Do I need Jet-Ski or WaveRunner insurance?
The first question people often ask when shopping for personal watercraft insurance is whether they need it. Although most people handle personal watercraft vehicles responsibly, accidents happen. Having personal watercraft vehicle insurance in place provides protection from circumstances beyond your control, as well as from your own missteps.
Unlike small boats, personal watercraft are not typically covered by homeowners insurance. And when they are, the coverage limits are inadequate.
Legal regulations for PWC vary by state. Most states don't require a personal watercraft insurance policy. But that doesn't mean you don't need insurance. For instance, if you bought your watercraft with a loan, your lender may require you to have comprehensive insurance.
This guide spells out everything you need to know about buying insurance for your Jet-Skis, WaveRunners, or any other type of personal watercraft.
What are the most important factors to consider when shopping for personal watercraft insurance?
These are the key features you should consider when you compare personal watercraft insurance policies:
- Type of coverage: Such as liability, collision, and medical payments.
- Coverage limits: This is the maximum amount of money an insurance company will pay for a covered loss.
- Deductibles: The amount deducted from your insurance check when you make a claim.
- The type of personal watercraft: The model, year, horsepower, value, and maximum speed of the watercraft you want to insure.
Your first step should be to decide what PWC insurance coverage is right for you and what coverage limits you need. Then make sure you use the same coverage and limits for every insurance quote application you fill. This will allow you to compare apples to apples when checking the rates and terms of each insurance company offer.
If you're not sure what type of PWC insurance you need or how much coverage you should purchase, read on.
What insurance coverage types should you consider when comparing personal watercraft insurance companies?
Choosing the right coverage type and limits is crucial when shopping for a personal watercraft insurance policy.
These are the most common coverages:
- Property damage liability: Damage to another water vehicle or boat dock.
- Property damage to your jet ski.
- Bodily injury liability: Liability coverage for injury or death caused by your negligence.
- Hull coverage: Damage that occurs to your personal watercraft. It will typically include trailers, equipment, motors, and accessories. Common claims include damage caused by fire and windstorms.
- Uninsured watercraft operator Protection and coverage for injury by an uninsured watercraft operator.
- Towing: Assistance towing stalled PWC to shore.
- Watersports liability: Damages to skiers or wakeboarders and their equipment when towing.
- Trailer coverage.
- Medical payments: Coverage for medical expenses regardless of fault.
- Fuel spill liability: Provides coverage for fines or damage claims from an accident involving a fuel spill.
Many personal watercraft owners also own boats. In such cases, personal watercraft insurance can be added as a rider or endorsement to their boat insurance policy. However, check how much this will cost and compare with the policy rates offered by other insurance carriers.
Personal watercraft insurance is also available as a stand-alone policy if you don’t have a boat.
Your personal watercraft insurance policy provides coverage whether you use the personal watercraft vehicle yourself or loan it to a friend or family member.
What coverage limits and deductibles should you choose when comparing PWC insurance quotes?
You are the best qualified to determine the appropriate coverage limits and deductibles for your PWC insurance policy. Use the factors below to inform your decision.
- Cash flow: The higher your coverage limits and the lower you set your deductibles, the less you will have to pay out of pocket if you have an accident. However, this will also increase the cost of the insurance. Determine how much you could comfortably afford to pay when you set deductibles and coverage limits.
- Value of watercraft: If you financed your watercraft or it's on a lease, consider its cash value when setting you coverage limit.
- Financial assets: If you own considerable assets, such as a home, a business, or expensive vehicles, you may want to increase your liability coverage above the standard minimums. In the event of an accident, the other party could try to go for your assets.
In summary, your coverage limit depends on how much you have to lose and the value of your personal watercraft. The cost of a PWC ranges from $5K for a small, two-passenger model to more than $18K for a high-end three-passenger model. However, that pales into insignificance when compared to the cost of damages caused by an accident.
The minimum coverage requirements in Utah, one of the few states that requires personal watercraft insurance, provide a useful benchmark. PWC owners must have at least:
- $25K per person in bodily injury liability with a minimum of $50K per accident
- A minimum of $15K in property damage liability.
- A combined liability coverage of at least $65K.
However, these coverage limits would only provide the most basic liability coverage in case of an accident. If possible, consider getting the highest possible liability coverage, typically $500K or $1 million, and the maximum medical payments coverage, which is usually around $10K.
For your property coverage, consider using the replacement value of your jet ski. Don't forget to include the value of your jet ski's accessories, such as GPS, clothes, goggles, helmet, and fishing gear.
Once you decide what coverage level is right for you, make sure you use the same limits for every insurance quote application you fill. This will allow you to compare apples to apples when checking the rates and terms of each insurance company offer.
Which insurance companies offer the lowest rates?
A typical personal watercraft insurance policy typically ranges from $150 to $500 a year. However, the cost of a PWC insurance policy depends on multiple factors, such as the year, make, model, horsepower, engine type, and maximum speed of the personal watercraft. Some companies may also offer discounts if you have a good riding history or you've taken boating safety courses.
What exclusions should you look out for when shopping for personal watercraft insurance?
While personal watercraft insurance can provide broad protection, it doesn’t cover everything. Each policy has specific exclusions – you’ll need to read the fine print for your particular policy to determine just what is covered and what is not.
These are common exclusions that apply to a vast majority of personal watercraft insurance policies.
- Vehicles which have been modified to enhance their speed and performance
- Operating a personal watercraft vehicle after dark and before dawn
- Operation of a personal watercraft vehicle without a proper driver’s license
Which company has the best personal watercraft insurance?
The best PWC insurance company for you is one that is financially secure and provides the coverage you need at the lowest price. You can use this guide to determine what coverage types and coverage limits you need. It's also important that it has well-trained agents that provide quality customer care.
Once you know how much liability and property insurance coverage you need, compare the quotes of three or more insurance companies.
SuperMoney's personal watercraft insurance company reviews and consumer ratings provide valuable insights into the customer care of the leading insurance companies. Check what complaints users have about a company in SuperMoney's PWC insurance company reviews before you buy a policy.
How can you assess the financial strength of a personal watercraft insurance company?
A jet-ski insurance policy is only as good as the company that backs it. So, it's a good idea to check jet-ski insurance comparison reviews and ratings before you make a choice. SuperMoney provides both customer satisfaction reviews and financial strength ratings.
There are five main insurance company rating agencies: A.M. Best, Fitch, Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA), Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. Each agency also has its own list of rated companies. SuperMoney's PWC insurance reviews provide a financial strength rating that combines available ratings to help you determine the reliability of an insurance company. However, these ratings could change at any time so it's smart to check the latest rating before making a decision.
Personal watercraft insurance reviews also let you know how an insurance company manages claims. Check to see what complaints users have about a company before choosing a personal watercraft insurance policy.
How should you compare personal watercraft (PWC) insurance companies?
The key to finding the best PWC insurance policy is to compare quotes from several insurance policies with similar coverages, limits, and deductibles.
Your PWC insurance rates will depend on the amount and type of coverage you choose. If you only want to cover your craft in the event it causes damages to property or injuries to another person, you can get a minimum amount of liability coverage. You will pay more for insurance if you also want full replacement cost coverage for your Jet Ski or WaveRunner or get increased liability limits.
The price of similar policies can vary by hundreds of dollars depending on which company you choose. So, it is worth spending a few minutes getting quotes from a few PWC insurance companies.
Once you have a good selection of quotes to compare it’s time to decide which one is the best deal. For this you will need to focus on cost, PWC insurance company ratings, and customer reviews.
SuperMoney provides free access to company financial ratings and personal watercraft insurance reviews.