Damage to boat

The damage is done. Who’s going to pay for it?

Most insurance seems straightforward, until you make a claim. That’s when what you thought was understandable and straightforward comes back stamped “denied” or perhaps with a pay out amount far less than expected.

It’s supposed to be easy. When you have an accident or property damage, you file an insurance claim. But filing an insurance claim on a boat trailer isn’t so straightforward. In some cases, what you thought was covered wasn’t, or perhaps you made the claim to the wrong insurance company, or at least to the wrong department if you purchase all your insurance from one company as a bundle.

It all depends on how and what type of damage occurred. With a boat trailer claim, the coverage you need could be covered by your auto insurance, homeowners insurance — or your boat insurance policy’s trailer coverage.

Here’s what you need to know.

  • If you’re driving to the lake with boat and trailer in tow and the trailer is damaged in an accident on the road, it’s the separate trailer coverage provided by your boat’s insurance policy that will pay for repairs or replacement of the trailer. What? You don’t have separate insurance for your boat’s trailer? You should read the fine print or check with your agent to see if your trailer has any coverage.
  • What if you back your trailer into fence or stone wall, or the trailer strikes another vehicle or trailer while you are parking? Heaven forbid, what if your trailer strikes a person walking across a busy launch ramp parking lot. In these cases, it’s your auto insurance policy’s liability coverage that would pay for damages to other property, vehicles or any medical claims. You may need to file two claims if the your trailer was damaged. The auto liability covers other people or other people’s property, your boat insurance policy’s trailer coverage would take care of repairs to the trailer itself.
  • What happens if while parked at home, a tree falls on your trailer? Storms are notorious for damaging boat trailers. There are two possible answers here. It may be the trailer coverage in your boat’s insurance policy that will compensate you, or you may also be able to make a claim on your homeowner’s policy. However, if a trailer is stolen or damaged when stored at a marina or other storage facility, the separate trailer coverage in the boat’s insurance policy should compensate you.
  • The final consideration may be the most important. It’s certainly the insurance I’ve used most often — roadside assistance. Many auto policies cover roadside assistance or it can be added either to the policy or purchased through a third party such as Triple A. Most boat or trailer policies don’t cover roadside assistance. So what happens if you are traveling down the road and something happens to either the trailer or the vehicle pulling the trailer?

Most likely, one or the other is going to cost you the price of the tow or be left sitting along side the highway until you can get back to it with your own assistance. You’ve all seen cars or boats temporarily abandoned along a highway with a blown out tire or other problem.

Personally, I belong to BoatUS because it’s an organization which advocates for boaters just as the NRA does for gun owners or the Audubon Society does for birds. But for an additional $14 to my annual dues, I am enrolled in their “Trailering Club” which offers roadside assistance to get either the boat and trailer, the vehicle pulling it or both back on the road, towed home or to a place which can render a repair.

What this all really means is that trailer boaters need to check with their insurance agent or read the fine print to learn exactly what coverage is included. Never just “assume.” Probably covered, isn’t coverage. Check your boat insurance, home owners or renters insurance and then check to see if what they offer is ample to cover any potential loss or problems. It’s one of those things you need to purchase and then hope you never need to use.