Seasonal boat insurance

7 minute read Published on Oct 16, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

Aerial view of man driving a personal watercraft in the ocean creating a straight down circular pattern

If you own a boat, then purchasing boat insurance is a must. Although it isn’t a legal requirement in Canada, boat insurance offers a high degree of financial protection that you won’t receive anywhere else. However, you will only receive full protection if you purchase a valid policy.

Read on to learn more about seasonal boat insurance, including what coverage it includes and how it differs from year-round boat insurance.

Seasonal boat insurance coverage

If you’re not sure why boat insurance is important, read on. Ultimately, what makes boat insurance so important is the coverage it provides. Whether you wish to buy Alberta boat insurance or Toronto boat insurance, you will receive financial protection in exchange for paying a monthly or yearly premium. Below is a list of ways that basic boat insurance coverage can protect you:

  • Boat insurance will protect your boat, its motor, and other equipment or accessories from being stolen or damaged in an accident.
  • Boat insurance can cover you from the personal items on board your boat being stolen, vandalized, or damaged.
  • Boat insurance can cover you if someone is injured while on your boat or your boat causes damage to another person’s personal property, and they file a liability claim against you.

Further, the exact types of coverage that insurance for recreational boats, including Ontario boat insurance policies feature include:

Property damage coverage

Property damage coverage can protect your boat and its contents from damage caused by insured perils like theft, vandalism, accidents, and more. With this type of coverage, your insurer will pay to replace or repair your boat if it’s damaged due to a covered peril.

Third party liability coverage

Liability insurance will pay for the costs associated with an at-fault accident. If you cause a boat accident, the third party liability portion of your policy can pay for medical bills, repair bills, legal fees, and more.

Temporary replacement coverage

Temporary replacement coverage can pay for you to rent a boat temporarily if your boat is damaged in an accident and you are unable to use it until it is repaired.

Agreed value coverage

If you add agreed-value coverage to your boat insurance plan, your insurer will pay to replace your boat if it is totalled.

Navigational extension coverage

Navigation extension coverage offers financial security if you operate your boat outside standard navigational limits.

Collision coverage

Collision coverage offers protection if you get into a boat accident and your boat suffers extensive damage. Collision coverage can pay for your boat to be repaired or replaced, no matter whether you caused the accident or not. It can also cover regardless of whether the accident occurred with another boat or a grounded object, such as a dock.

Comprehensive coverage

Comprehensive coverage is a type of boat insurance that can protect your boat from a wide range of risks. These risks may include vandalism, theft, fire, natural disasters, and weather-related events. The main perk of comprehensive coverage is that it can protect your boat while docked or stored.

What factors impact the cost of seasonal boat insurance in Canada?

Whether you’re buying seasonal boat insurance or commercial marine insurance, the cost can vary considerably in Canada. Why? Boat insurance rates depend on several factors, from your level of experience with boat ownership to your personal driving record.

For a complete list of factors that may influence how much you pay for a boat insurance policy in Canada, check out the list below or contact BrokerLink today:

Boating record

Just like how your driving record matters when buying car insurance in Canada, your boating record matters when buying boating insurance. A clean boating record is far more likely to garner you better insurance rates, as you will be viewed as a small risk.

To keep your record clean, make sure to drive as safely as possible. You can do this by reviewing these boat safety requirements and making sure that you obtain a boat licence before getting behind the wheel.

You can learn more about how to get a boat licence in Ontario by contacting BrokerLink.

Boat ownership experience

How familiar you are with being the owner of a boat can also influence your seasonal boat insurance rates. The more experience you have with boat ownership, the better.

If you can show that you have years or decades of boating experience on top of a clean record, you could benefit from cheaper rates than if you are a first-time boat owner.

If you are just starting to sail your boat, check out our first-time boat owners checklist for the best tips to get you set off on the right track.

Where you drive your boat

Where you drive your boat may also impact how much you pay for a boat insurance policy in Canada. Why? Due to the fact that insurance companies see some bodies of water as riskier than others.

For this reason, they will ask what specific waterways you take your boat on, including lakes, rivers, and oceans. If a body of water you frequently drive on is prone to extreme weather, your insurance rates could be affected.

How and where you store your boat

How and where you choose to store your boat in the off-season is one last factor that may impact your boat insurance premium. This is due to the fact that some boat storage locations are riskier than others, and since your boat will spend a good chunk of the year there, this detail matters.

Generally speaking, if you store your boat in a private marina or inside a boat house on your property, your rates may be lower. This is because the odds of it being stolen, vandalized, or damaged due to weather are far lower than if you choose to store your boat in a public or uncovered area.

The risks of cancelling your boat insurance policy over the winter

When buying boat insurance, you may be interested in learning about seasonal policies. The reality is that boat insurance policies typically last for one year, the same as most other insurance policies.

Additionally, most insurers do not provide short-term or seasonal coverage, which means you will need to purchase a regular boat insurance policy and then either cancel it or amend it. That said, many risks come with cancelling your policy outright. We outline a few of these risks below:

You may be on the hook for early cancellation fees

If you decide to buy a boat insurance policy and then cancel it when you put your boat in storage for the winter, you could be forced to pay early cancellation fees. Some insurance providers charge termination fees to those who cancel their policies before the end of the term.

To find out if such fees apply to you and how much they will be, read through the terms and conditions of your contract. You can also ask a BrokerLink insurance advisor to review your insurance contract for you if needed.


You could have trouble getting boat insurance in the future

Another risk of cancelling your boat insurance policy instead of amending it in the off-season is that doing so could make it harder to get boat insurance down the road.

Every time you cancel a policy, it goes on your insurance record. When you apply for boat insurance in the future, an insurer will look at your record.

If you have a history of purchasing and then cancelling coverage, you could be deemed a high-risk policyholder, and as such, they could refuse you coverage.

Your boat insurance rates may go up

If you cancel your boat insurance policy, it’s possible that your insurance premium will go up the next time you buy it. This is because insurance rates change from year to year, and so just because you benefited from a certain rate before doesn’t mean you will again.

In addition, with several policy cancellations on your insurance record, an insurer is likely to charge you a higher rate for insurance.

Your boat could be damaged or stolen while in storage

Your boat being damaged or stolen is one of the biggest risks of cancelling your boat insurance policy over the winter. Even if it isn't being operated during these months, it could still get damaged.

For instance, while docked at a marina or even in a covered boat house, it could be stolen or damaged due to weather, a fire, or a falling tree. If you don’t have boat insurance, you won’t be covered should any such incident occur.

Specifically, you must keep comprehensive boat coverage if you want to be covered should damage occur while your boat is docked or stored.

Taking your boat out on the water will be risky until your coverage is back

If you decide to cancel your boat insurance policy in the off-season, you really shouldn’t operate your boat again until you renew your coverage. But what happens if you get an unexpected heat wave and all your buddies are taking their boats out? If you cancelled your coverage, taking your boat out would be incredibly risky.

However, if you still have coverage, you can take your boat out anytime you want without having to get in touch with your insurance company to purchase a new policy.

Please note that a key part of getting your boat ready for summer is buying adequate insurance coverage. If this is your first year operating a boat, be sure to buy a boat insurance policy before you hit the open waters. Alternatively, if you cancelled last year’s policy, then make sure that you buy a new one in time for summer.

Cancelling vs. amending your boat insurance policy

Given the risks that come with cancelling a boat insurance policy during the winter, your best bet is to amend your policy instead. Amended or modified policies are also known as lay-up or storage policies.

They reduce or temporarily pause certain types of coverage, such as liability and collision coverage while allowing you to retain the type of coverage that matters most while your boat is in storage: comprehensive coverage.

Contact BrokerLink to learn more about amending your boat insurance policies to suit your seasonal usage.

Contact BrokerLink to purchase seasonal boat insurance today

If you are ready to purchase seasonal boat insurance, contact BrokerLink today. We can provide you with a free boat insurance quote, explain how boat insurance premiums are calculated, and give you tips on things to look for during boat shows and how to insure a commercial fishing boat. We can also shop for boat insurance coverage on your behalf to ensure you get the most competitive rates. As boat insurance experts, we will obtain quotes from multiple providers and compare them, as well as unlock discounts you didn’t even know existed. Get in touch with BrokerLink to learn more.