Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • Auto insurance may or may not extend to liabilities present when towing a boat
  • Always confirm with the insurance provider any questions about what will or won’t be covered when towing a boat
  • Explore options for auto, boat, and umbrella liability coverage to ensure the strongest financial protections

Taking a boat out on the ocean, lake, or river can be a lot of fun. Paying high monthly costs for a boat dock slip, however, is not exactly enjoyable. Keeping a small boat in a garage and then towing the boat to its destination is far less costly.

This way to save is definitely practical for those who only take a boat out on the water once in a while. With a little practice, safely towing a boat shouldn’t be too difficult.

The chance of an accident with or without a boat in tow is something to seriously worry about. Towing a boat does come with risks. Imagine if the boat became loose and careened down a highway.

The resultant damage could be both massive and tragic. Accidents of this nature are possible even when the greatest care is taken while driving. Corroded tow latches, for example, can snap.

Hence, taking great steps to prevent an accident is a must. Also important is making sure an auto insurance policy — or another type of insurance policy — covers damages and liabilities associated with towing a boat.

Compare car insurance quotes today to make sure you don’t overpay for coverage!

The Car and Boat Insurance Connection

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Whether or not auto insurance extends to the boat being towed depends on a number of different factors. Namely, the particulars of the accident weigh into an extension of coverage.

With certain policies, if the boat remains attached to the trailer, the boat may very well be covered by auto insurance.

However, if the boat detaches from the trailer and careens down a road, the auto insurance policy might not cover any damages inflicted by the wayward boat. The boat, in essence, is “on its own” when “freed” from the car’s hitch.

Why would auto insurance cover the boat in this situation? The boat is no longer connected to the car.

Don’t assume an auto insurance policy would automatically cover the boat when it is being towed. An auto policy may be underwritten with an exclusion for towed items. Anyone with plans to tow a boat does need to read an auto insurance policy very carefully.

And no matter how careful a driver might be, others on the road could present scores of hazards.

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The Other Party’s Fault

And then there is another critical thing to think about. Even the world’s safest driver cannot guarantee a reckless driver won’t crash into his/her vehicle.

When the driver of a truck is totally at fault for an accident that totals another driver’s car and hitched boat, the at-fault driver’s auto insurance is challenged for a settlement.

The policy may cover the losses to the car and the boat under the property damage provision of the policy.

The limits of the policy, however, come into effect as well. If the person only has $25,000 in property damage coverage, then the injured party has to sue beyond the policy to cover damages.

An uninsured motorist would make the situation worse unless an uninsured motorist policy is taken out. This situation is why underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage is worth procuring.

Collision Insurance Concerns

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Driving a car with a boat and trailer attached is not easy. The chances of causing an accident increase when towing a boat. Drivers should insure themselves to the proverbial hilt to remain safe.

Someone who damages his or her own car could collect on the collision component of a policy if such coverage was purchased.

Collision insurance is definitely one of the more helpful coverage items to add onto a policy.

Those who have previously been involved in an accident probably know collision insurance presents a helpful means of paying for damages to a vehicle.

Those who back their car out of a driveway and hit a tree might think their liability insurance will cover such damage. “Self-inflicted wounds” are not covered under auto liability.

Anyone who wishes to protect his or her own car from damage inflicted due to personal poor driving should think about acquiring collision coverage.

Do not automatically assume collision coverage extends to the boat on the tow trailer, though. Likely, the boat would not be covered even under the most generous collision policy.

The key theme here is to never make an assumption about what an auto insurance policy will cover. An incorrect assumption may lead to major disappointments and financial losses.

Check with the Auto Insurance Provider

When buying a new policy, ask the insurance provider how towing a boat connects with the coverage in the auto insurance policy.

Again, under no circumstances ever should anyone make any assumptions. Get a clear and definitive answer from an actual insurance company. Believing coverage is in place when it is not could prove disastrous.

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Look into Other Insurance Policies

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Boat insurance exists and, likely, a boat insurance policy may have provisions associated with the towing of the seafaring craft. Liability risks are sure to come to mind when towing a boat. An uncontrolled boat could do a lot of damage and most know.

Perhaps it would be wise to buy an umbrella policy that would add one million or more extra liability coverage to a person who is towing a boat. When risks are high, it makes sense to boost the insurance policy coverage and procure more coverage such as:

  • auto
  • boat
  • umbrella

Maxing Out Auto Insurance Coverage

With the boat in tow, boosting auto liability coverage to the maximum would not hurt. $500,000/$500,000 in coverage makes sense when driving down a highway with a 17-foot boat in tow.

Buying a comprehensive policy might not even be hugely expensive. Comparison shopping might reveal some amazing deals.

Calling one insurance company and asking about a single quote is really not the best way to arrive at finding a good policy.

A better plan would be to request a variety of quotes from different providers and engaging in a very detailed price and coverage comparison.

And don’t forget about putting the right level of coverage on that potentially dangerous hitched boat.

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