How Much Does Liveaboard Sailboat Insurance Cost?

How Much Does Liveaboard Sailboat Insurance Cost | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

January 26, 2024

In most cases, liveaboard sailboat insurance costs a fraction of what you'd pay for auto, home, or renter's insurance.

In this article, we’ll cover the average cost of sailboat insurance, along with cost considerations, types of coverage, and how to find an affordable plan. We’ll also overview several ways to improve your sailboat to qualify for discounts.

Liveaboard sailboat insurance typically costs between $200 and $500 per year. Premiums vary based on how much coverage you need, the value of your boat, and personal factors such as accident history.

We contacted 3 of the largest and most well-known sailboat insurance companies (Geico, Progressive and USAA) to aggregate this data and determine a real average cost of liveaboard sailboat insurance in the U.S. We also used insurance company data to find the best ways to upgrade your boat to reduce your premiums.


Table of contents

Is Sailboat Insurance Mandatory?

Many people wonder if they're legally required to insure their sailboat. After all, most states require auto insurance, so it follows that boats also require it. However, in most places, you don't need insurance to own or operate a sailboat. That said, purchasing sailboat insurance is still the responsible thing to do.

Liveaboard vs. Standard Sailboat Insurance

Is there a difference between standard sailboat insurance and liveaboard sailboat insurance? Generally speaking, no, but some insurance companies might have additional coverage requirements for people who use the coat as their primary residence.

This is primarily because liveaboards spend way more time 'using' their boats. When choosing a plan, be sure to talk to an agent to determine the insurance company's precise definition of 'use.' Doing so can help save time and money, as you may only be required to disclose how often you plan to actually sail the vessel.

Some indemnity companies don't require you to specify how often you use the vessel. In these cases, there should be no difference in the cost or coverage amounts.

Should I Buy Liveaboard Sailboat Insurance?

Many sailors wonder if it's worth purchasing liveaboard sailboat insurance. It's a good question to ask, as the majority of boat owners take a very passive (and frankly, careless) approach to sailboat insurance.

The fact of the matter is that most sailboats never get into a serious accident. That said, sailboats that do get into accidents often suffer a lot of expensive damage. Additionally, sailboats that cause accidents can be on the hook (along with their owners) for thousands of dollars. If someone gets injured, the costs multiply rapidly.

But what about insurance for coats that rarely ever leave the marina? Believe it or not, insurance is just as important for stationary liveaboard sailboats. The first reason that comes to mind is that you'll be covered if another boat causes damage to yours. If they're the dishonest type and leave the scene, you won't be on the hook for the damage they cause.

After weighing the facts, it's evident that the relatively low expense required to get liveaboard sailboat insurance is more than worth it, and it's an essential part of responsible boat ownership.

Benefits of Liveaboard Sailboat Insurance

What else does liveaboard sailboat insurance protect you from? As we discussed previously, sailboat insurance is an excellent way to protect your property and shield yourself from financial liability in the event of an accident.

But as every sailboat owner knows, accidents aren't the only thing that causes damage to sailboats. Another benefit of liveaboard sailboat insurance is protection from storm damage. After all, your boat is your home, and you'd want to keep it safe from storm damage costs just like your car.

Coverage for storm damage isn't necessary everywhere. In the San Francisco or Los Angeles area, where the weather is almost always mild, storm insurance isn't a huge priority or expense.

However, places with frequent thunderstorms and hurricanes (such as Florida and the Carolinas) are areas where liveaboards should consider getting extra storm coverage. Nothing ruins your day like a storm surge or a baseball-sized hail hole in your beautiful teak deck.

Liveaboard sailboat insurance is also useful in events such as fires or when an accident happens at the marina. For example, insurance may cover you if a component of a dock breaks or a cover collapses and causes damage to your boat.

Also, if somebody else's boat catches fire and the heat causes damage to your boat, you'll be covered. These situations do happen, which is why it's important to cover all of your bases.

Liveaboard Insurance Cost Considerations

What contributes to the cost of liveaboard sailboat insurance? Purchasing insurance for a sailboat is a lot like buying car insurance, except it's likely to be a lot less expensive when it's all said and done.

Insurance companies take several things into account when issuing you a quote. The first thing they consider is the size and value of your sailboat. Obviously, a 40-foot priceless classic schooner will probably cost more to insure than a fiberglass 1971 Catalina 22.

However, that's likely not the most important factor. Insurance companies also consider your deductible and how much coverage you need. In fact, these two factors are likely the most influential when it comes to determining your annual premiums,

Location is another factor considered by insurance companies. Some states have notoriously high insurance premiums. This is often due to a combination of state regulation and analysis of how often people wreck their coats in the area.

Some parts of the country are known for heavy boat traffic. Combine that with a proclivity for bad weather, and you're likely to encounter steeper insurance premiums.

The final consideration is your personal history and how often you plan to use your sailboat. As we discussed earlier, having a history of accidents can negatively affect your ability to find an affordable sailboat insurance plan.

Average Cost of Sailboat Insurance Plans

The cost of liveaboard sailboat insurance plans varies widely. For the sake of simplicity, we'll base our estimates off of the typical cost to insure an average liveaboard sailboat. The majority of people who live aboard do so on boats between 26 and 45-feet in length.

With that in mind, we estimate that the average semi-experienced liveaboard sailboat owner will pay between $200 and $500 per year. Compared to car insurance, sailboat insurance is actually quite affordable. However, your individual boat may cost more to insure. This is especially true if you sail a lot, long distances, or in hazardous areas.

How to Reduce the Cost of Liveaboard Sailboat Insurance

Reducing the cost of liveaboard sailboat insurance can be quite easy, especially if you don't plan to sail very often (or very far). The easiest way to reduce your premiums is to reduce your deductible. The same applies to car insurance, as most kinds of vehicle insurance work the same way; here are a few more ways to reduce your sailboat insurance premiums.

Take a Boater's Safety Course

In some states, you're not required to have a boater's license for a sailboat. These states seem to dwindle in number every year, but it's possible that you live aboard and have never been licensed. Many insurance companies offer discounts if you take a boater's safety course, so it's worth considering.

Buy a Newer Boat

Insurance companies often offer discounts for newer boats. That said, newer boats tend to be costlier, so there's a point at which the insurance savings from owning a newer boat don't make up for the additional purchase price. If you already have a newer boat, inquire about possible discounts.

Install Safety Systems

Advanced safety and navigation systems reduce the risk of an accident. As a result, insurance companies often offer discounts to people who install systems such as radar, fume detectors, and automatic fire suppressors.

Additional safety and navigation systems, such as GPS systems, locator beacons, depth finders, smoke/CO detectors, and EPIRBs, can also reduce your rates.

Choose a Sailboat with a Diesel Inboard Engine

So, how can having a diesel engine save you money on your insurance premiums? Unlike gasoline, diesel is usually not explosive, and its fumes don't prevent as big of a fire hazard.

This applies only to vessels with an inboard engine. There aren't any widely-available diesel outboard engines, and some sailboats have no engine at all. Explosions and gasoline fires are more common on boats than most people expect, and insurance companies are particularly risk-averse when it comes to fuel.

Inspect and Repair Engine Safety Systems

Similarly, you can reduce your insurance premiums by updating your engine safety and fume abatement systems. These systems prevent gasoline fumes from collecting in closed areas, which greatly reduces the risk of fire. Most states require these systems, and updating them is a good idea regardless.

Will My Driving Record Affect My Premiums?

Many people wonder if their driving records will impact their sailboat insurance premiums. In most cases, the answer is a resounding "yes." If you have a stellar driving record and lots of years on the road, you can expect to pay less than your younger or less experienced counterparts.

If you have a history of accidents, a DUI/DWI, or other issues, you'll likely pay more (at least for a while). The longer you stay safe and responsible, the lower your rate will be.

On a similar note, your age can have a significant impact on the price of liveaboard sailboat insurance. Younger people, specifically in their late teens and early 20s, usually have to pay higher premiums. This is because people in that age range (and younger people in general) are far more likely to cause an accident.

The best way to avoid paying more because of your driving record is to keep it clean, avoid alcohol, and take driver's or boater's safety courses whenever possible. A ticket can have a ripple effect across all of your insurance plans, so it's best to get them expunged with courses whenever possible.

Shopping for Liveaboard Sailboat Insurance

A prudent insurance buyer always shops around to find the best rates. Most major insurance companies now have free online quote tools, which we find are fairly accurate. You don't have to purchase anything to use them, and they can help you find the best rate in minutes.

Some insurance companies offer hefty discounts for loyalty. If you're currently insured in any way, contact your insurance agent and inquire about adding a boat to your plan. Companies that offer insurance "bundles" are incentivized to save you money in the long run if you continue to work with them.

Marine Insurance Companies

Your first inclination when shopping for sailboat insurance may be to work with a big-name auto indemnity company. And while it may turn out to be the best option, you should also consider working with a specialized marine insurance company. These companies, such as BoatUS and United Marine, offer services that aren't available through traditional insurance companies.

Chances are you've seen coat towing and repair vessels speeding around your local waterway at some point. These vessels work with marine insurance companies, and they're extremely useful for sailors. These insurance plans offer on-the-water services such as towing, engine repair, and parts delivery.

In some cases, working with a marine insurance company can provide these benefits and save you money too. If you ever run aground, break a stay, or need a new battery, these insurance plans have you covered. Emergency towing and repair on the water can be obscenely expensive without insurance, so it's smart to bundle it all together when possible.

How Much Does Liveaboard Sailboat Insurance Cost?
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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