Bruce Sackrison

Bruce Sackrison is a Napa Valley Register columnist who will write about property and casualty insurance matters.

It’s almost time to hitch up the boat and head for the lake. Before you do, here are four questions to ask your insurance agent:

1. Am I covered if someone else is using my boat?

That depends. If they are paying you to borrow your boat, your boat policy will almost certainly not cover any losses or liability.

So, don’t rent your boat out without first talking to your agent.

However, many policies cover use of your boat with your permission by friends or family members. But not all of them do.

So, you need to read your policy, especially the exclusions section. You may need to specify by name everyone who may use your boat this season.

One way that may extend coverage to others using your boat could be through an umbrella policy. Talk to your agent about additional coverage that may be provided through an umbrella policy.

2. If I’m in an accident on the way to the lake, who pays for damage to my boat?

This one’s a tricky question. So, let’s look at a few scenarios:

First, you are towing your boat to the lake. You are in a car accident that’s your fault. Your boat and trailer cause damage to another vehicle.

Who pays? Your auto insurance pays, not your boat insurance.

Second, you are towing your boat to the lake. Your trailer detaches from your truck and the unattached boat and trailer hit the car behind you.

Who pays? Your boat insurance pays this time.

Finally, you are towing your empty trailer to a designated parking place after launching your boat. You make a mistake and damage your trailer.

Who pays? Your boat insurance, if you have optional coverage for your trailer.

3. If my boat is wrecked, will I get a new boat to replace it?

Again, that depends.

Many people have an “Actual Cash Value” policy, often called a “Market Value” policy. The reason is that these policies cost less.

But Actual Cash Value policies pay only what the boat was worth at the time of loss.

This means that depreciation takes a huge bite out of the final payment by the insurance company. If your boat is totaled, you likely won’t get enough to purchase a new one to replace it.

However, if you have an Agreed Amount Value policy, you are more likely to get enough money to replace your old boat with a new one at claim time.

4. Are there additional coverages I should consider?

Yes. There are optional coverages available under most boat policies. That’s why talking with your local insurance agent can make a huge difference at claim time.

You may need additional coverage, like an umbrella policy, and not even know it.

Schedule a time right now to meet with an experienced local agent and discuss how you will be using your boat this season.

Your assets will be better protected, and you’ll boating with more peace of mind.

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Bruce Sackrison is an insurance property and casualty broker affiliated with Professional Insurance Associates. He is at 707-931-0186 or bruces@sackifs.com.