5 Key Terms to Know When Shopping for Marine Insurance

Marine Terms To Know When Shopping for Insurance

  • Blue or Brown Water
  • Navigational Limits
  • Operators
  • Pollution Liability
  • Date Restrictions

Searching for marine insurance can be an overwhelming task, especially for a new boat owner. While there are similarities between marine insurance and other forms on insurance, there are a lot of differences. One of them is terminology, which can indicate when, where, when and who is covered at any given time. Here are five key terms to know when shopping for marine insurance.

Navigational Limits

The term “navigational limits” refers to where a boat can be used or docked and still have coverage. Policies have various navigational limits, with larger limits having higher premiums. If an insurance holder is planning on using the boat in waters that cross state or international lines, they must discuss this with their insurance company in order to ensure they are getting the highest navigational limits possible; international marine insurance may also be required. However, for insurance holders who are using the boat within their state for leisure, stricter navigational limits will not be an issue and will result in lower premiums.

Blue or Brown Water

Blue water and brown water are terms that an insurance company uses to determine the navigational territory that a boat will be covered under. Blue water means that the vessel is insured when in waters that are five miles out or more from land; brown water means that the vessel will only be insured within five miles from the coastline. These terms are important because if an insurance policy covers vessels that travel within five miles from the coast and the vessel is damaged more than five miles away from the coast, the vessel will not be covered. The reverse is true, so insurance holders are advised to think about where they would like to use their boat in order to get the best coverage.


The term “operators” is similar to the term “drivers” in car insurance; it refers to the people who will be legally insured when operating the boat. If the boat is damaged in an accident or causes an accident and the operator is not on the policy, insurance rates might go up and the insurance company is not liable for any damage caused to any vessel. Therefore, it is important that everyone who operates the boat is covered under the policy but bear in mind that the more operators listed on a vessel, the higher the premiums will be for that policy.

Pollution Liability

Pollution liability is a feature in most marine insurance contracts that refer to any pollution that a vessel may leak into the water. This includes fuel or oil discharge caused by a leak or other situation. While this is generally considered to be optional, most owners may want to seriously consider it; if the policy does not cover pollution, then the insurance holder will be liable for any cleanup costs incurred by their vessel’s pollution.

Date Restrictions

Date restrictions is a term that refers to the dates during the year in which a policyholder anticipates using the boat. Because weather plays a role in when a person chooses to use their boat, having this feature in a policy can be beneficial to a boat owner; they will only pay for insurance during the dates laid out in the policy, meaning they pay less in insurance every year for the vessel. Date restrictions vary by insurance company, but many will use dangerous boating seasons in the local area as a guideline for these restrictions.

Related Resource: 10 Best Cheap Boat and Marine Insurance Companies

There isn’t that much written about marine insurance on a national level, except when it comes to technology to streamline the process; Business Insider published an article on how blockchain technology will be introduced in marine insurance to get rid of human errors that may cost insurance holders thousands of dollars. However, knowing these terms is crucial to get the best policy available. At the end of the day, boat owners must learn as much as they can about the terms in their contract in order to avoid fees and loss of insurance.