Protection While Navigating The Great Lakes and Michigan Inland Lakes

Launching a boat in Michigan waters during the month of April is not very common. Boat insurance policies, however, generally begin to provide coverage on April 15. If you've not given much thought to your boat insurance policy, this spring might be a good time to review your policy and determine if you need more protection as you navigate the Great Lakes or Michigan's inland lakes. Although many homeowner and automobile companies offer boat insurance, the coverage your existing policy provides may not be adequate. Many policies provide a list of "named perils" outlining situations the policy covers, such as fire, vandalism and malicious mischief. If you need more coverage, look for an "all risks" policy that covers more predicaments in which you might find yourself.

The valuation clause in the policy is what determines the calculation the insurance company uses to arrive at the amount to pay in the event of a loss. Actual cash value policies take into account depreciation, where other policies are written on the basis of "agreed value." If the boat is a total loss, the policy holder of an "agreed value" policy receives the amount as provided in the policy, rather than the actual cash value. This coverage is not available from every insurance company. Do you travel throughout the state, towing your boat to various lakes? Review your policy for any navigation limits. Some policies are only effective within 100 miles of your home. Towing, salvage, and wreck removal are other important considerations and they are defined differently. Some policies cover only towage, which is usually determined by the state of the vessel. Distinguishing between whether a distressed boat is in a tow situation or a salvage situation is often difficult. If the situation was not reported timely or weather conditions worsened over time, these can affect whether your policy will cover your situation. Some broader policies cover salvage and wreck removal up to the full amount, but most insurers limit this coverage and some omit it all together.

Consider liability and bodily injury coverage that provides you with liability insurance coverage when there is damage to something owned by someone else or injury to someone else. Medical payments coverage pays for bills that may arise from an accident on a boat. Additional coverages may be available: uninsured boater's insurance, roadside assistance (when towing your boat), trailer insurance, and coverage if you travel to Canada. Boat insurance policies are available from many insurance companies; however, a real maritime insurance policy will likely offer you the best protection. Dan A. Penning