What is Marine Insurance?

Marine Insurance

Little is written about the marine insurance industry, except where technology is concerned; this article from Forbes, which discusses how machine learning will transform the insurance industry, is a great example. But people who own and operate boats need marine insurance in case of an accident or natural disaster. From understanding what marine insurance is to knowing how it works, here’s a quick primer on what can be expected from a marine insurance policy.


Marine insurance is the type of insurance that covers a boating vessel or vehicle, its equipment, any cargo, and its operators. In the United States of America, major insurance companies offer marine insurance, although it is far more common on the East and West Coast, near big lakes and rivers than in landlocked areas. It was designed for both national and international sailors and those who use their boats for recreational purposes. Marine insurance can often be bundled with home and car insurance, dropping the price of the total insurance package while providing policyholders with a comprehensive package.

Who Needs It?

Anyone who owns or operates a sea-faring vessel will need some sort of marine insurance, even if they aren’t using it all the time. Most policies are flexible in terms of date and navigational restrictions, meaning marine insurance generally covers only when and where a vessel is being used. This is convenient for policyholders, as most who need the insurance do not use the boat on a regular basis; there are policies, however, that do cover those who sail full-time. For those who transport boats from inland lakes to the open ocean, insurance will cover the transportation as well as the vessel and the equipment used to haul it.

What Does it Cover?

Marine insurance covers sea-faring vessels, any cargo or equipment attached to it, and the operators. Some policies can cover international travel while others focus on local travel within the United States. Like other insurance policies, marine insurance covers bodily injury liability coverage, property damage liability coverage, coverage in case of inclement weather and more, just to name a few. Interestingly, marine insurance also covers pollution liability, something that happens when a vessel leaks oil or fuel into the water. Marine insurance also covers vessels that are not in open water, that only operate in lakes and rivers or those that are being transported; the latter is done in conjunction with auto insurance.

Does it Work Like Normal Insurance?

Marine insurance is most similar to car insurance in that it covers a sea-faring vessel or vehicle and its operators. However, it is different than car insurance in some ways. For example, marine insurance policies may have a feature that enables the policyholder to opt out of off-season, or the time of year they would not be using their vessel due to the weather in their area, premiums which will reduce the amount they spend on insurance. Some policies also cover international travel, such as someone who crosses the Pacific or the Atlantic Ocean, which is something that most car insurance policies do not cover. However, the process of getting insured and holding the policy is the same; in fact, most people have policy bundles with their company that covers their home, car, and marine insurance.

Related Resource: 10 Best Cheap Boat and Marine Insurance Companies

Not everyone needs marine insurance, but those that do will be better served by understanding why and how it can benefit them. Just by taking the time to talk to an insurance policy or researching the issue online, all boat owners will be in a great position to cover what they care about in terms of their boat. Now that the question of what is marine insurance has been answered, it is now time for boat owners to start researching the best policies available for them in their area.