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March 02, 2009

How to save money on boat insurance from BoatU.S.

These nine tips will help protect your investment and save money

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.) has these tips to save money on boat insurance:

1. Reality check: Today's competitive boat buying market has likely reduced the value of your boat - which could allow you to reduce your premium.

2. Hold the small stuff: If you don't submit small claims and can handle a bigger deductible, ask your insurance company for a discount.

3. Check for duplication: If you have a homeowners or renters insurance policy it may cover things such as "sports equipment coverage" which is sometimes added to a boat insurance policy.

4. Go back to school: Many insurance companies give a discount for taking an approved safe boating class.

5. Join a boating group: Join the U.S. Power Squadrons or U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and earn an extra discount on your insurance while learning and participating in making our waterways safer.

6. Go liability only: If your boat is paid for and you feel comfortable with absorbing the cost of damage to, or the loss of your boat, consider a "liability only" policy that will still protect you and your other assets from lawsuits if you damage someone else's property or injure a third party. However, all liability policies are not alike - things like medical coverage for family and friends, salvage and wreck removal, fuel spill and uninsured boater coverage should be included.

7. Long lay-up? If your boat is in storage for an extended period consider a "port risk" policy that provides no navigation coverage but does cover your boat in cases of theft, fire or liability should someone get hurt.

8. Have the "right" type of policy: Most boaters have either an "Agreed Value" policy or an "Actual Cash Value" policy. The Agreed Value policy typically costs more but provides more reimbursement in the event of a partial loss by paying the replacement cost of most items, and it will pay the value stated on the policy if the boat is a total loss. However, the Actual Cash Value policy costs less but also depreciates all losses - and will pay you less in almost every claim. Both kinds of policies have benefits but only you can decide which best meet your needs.

9. Understand what you're getting: Boat insurance policies can vary widely. For example, an insurance policy with $800,000 for fuel spill coverage may sound like a lot, while other policies may exclude this coverage completely. In plain English, if your boat starts a marina fire that destroys other vessels, will there be enough money to cover the resulting spill as well as the loss of neighboring vessels?

Some other coverages to ask about:

· Salvage and wreck removal coverage: If your boat sinks, your insurer will write you a check for the value of the lost boat (hull value). But who pays to remove the sunken boat? Depending on your insurance company it could be your own wallet or a separate "bucket" of salvage money in your policy.

· Consequential damage: If your boat sinks because of a failed part, is the resulting water damage covered? Or, does the policy exclude "any loss caused directly or indirectly, or resulting from" the failed part? If it does exclude it, you'll end up paying more for repairs out of pocket.

· Contractual liability: Commonly needed by boaters who rent storage space or a marina slip, contractual liability satisfies a rental / slip contract's "hold harmless" provision. However, you may not need this coverage if you store your boat at home.

For more information or to get a free online insurance quote, go to www.BoatUS.com/insurance.