Whether you’re a homeowner looking to ensure their private property or a commercial business owner of a marina or fishing venue, one thing’s for sure: having boat dock insurance makes sense! But how do you go about it? Can you add it to an existing policy?
Here is how to ensure that your boat dock is covered by insurance, and some essential points to keep in mind before signing off on the decision.
Obtaining coverage for your boat dock ensures protection against hazards like fire, theft, and vandalism. Coverage also protects against wind, lightning, and other damage from weather elements. In the event of a claim, some policies will pay cash values while others may reimburse you for replacement costs.
For residential properties, getting a boat dock is a straightforward process. You can add a boat dock to your homeowner's policy if the structure resides within the premises of your primary residence. In many cases, homeowners can ensure coverage for their property through their homeowners' policy.
However, if you’re renting a dock from a marina or other third party, expect the third party to have the property under their insurance.
To ensure your private dock, you can add it to your homeowner's policy through the "Other Structures" coverage feature. This coverage protects your property’s structure separated from the primary residence.
Qualifying properties are detached garages, guest homes, in-ground swimming pools, and fences.
Dock Insurance Exclusions
Homeowner’s coverage on a boat dock includes two exclusions:
- The collapse of a pier, port, or wharf, unless the cause was due to a building collapse.
- Damage caused by freezing ice or water to a pier, dock, or wharf.
Homeowners should seek separate flood insurance to protect against asset losses caused by flooding.
When insuring your private dock, other considerations may affect the process. If the dock isn’t close to your primary residence, you'll need to add a site to your homeowner's policy. If the structure is a seasonal feature, you should insure it under a personal property insurance policy.
Suppose you are part of a boat dock association in your community. You will benefit from having one deductible per policy versus having each slip owner obtain an individual insurance policy.
Consider obtaining a commercial general liability (CGL) policy if you rent your dock to others. Large slip docks with multiple owners would benefit from commercial policy coverage. This coverage best suits business purposes and protects against injuries and property damage during the dock’s use.
When adding a boat dock to an existing policy, you'll consider several factors that may influence the type and level of coverage needed.
Taking a look at your area and assessing hazards like hurricanes, water levels, and atmospheric conditions could influence coverage decisions. You’ll also want to consider looking at your boat dock’s construction and assess durability, lifespan, current state, and vulnerabilities.
A commercial boat dock is a prime location for vessels to perch during quick stops or permanent stationing. Given their contact and proximity, boat docks and boats cause significant damage to one another.
If your commercial dock damages incoming boats, you may need to file a claim under its insurance policy. Watercraft are significant investments, so repairing damage from a boat dock would be a considerable expense for the owner.
Liability coverage works closely with vessel damage coverage. A claim filed on the dock insurance policy would hold you liable for the damages in the instance above. Having liability also means you are responsible for providing reparations for personal injuries and incidents occurring on or because of your property.
As the dock’s owner, you’ll want to conduct regular inspections to ensure your property is safe for use. A poorly maintained structure could deteriorate and cause injury, leaving you responsible for the injured party.
Property Damage and Loss of Use
Having a commercial policy also ensures your property has coverage against uncontrollable events such as weather catastrophes. Hurricanes, tornados, and wind storms are detrimental to waterfront businesses, and losing boat docks to such peril may affect you long-term.
It can take time to gather funds, supplies, and labor to repair a boat dock and restart your business. Due to the closure, your business could lose traffic revenue.
A loss of use insurance policy may compensate you for lost revenue due to closures until you complete the necessary repairs.
Boat docks used during chemical transportation are subject to pollution, so ensuring that you have coverage against an unforeseen event is essential.
Let’s say someone knocks over a container of chemicals into the water while unloading a shipment. The spill spreads through the water, potentially affecting marine life and resulting in a considerable fine for your business. However, having pollution coverage can help pay for clean-up, damage reparations, and potential penalties.
Given its permanent location, a boat dock can benefit from flood coverage. While most policies exclude this type of coverage, you may want to look into acquiring a special endorsement through a private insurance company or seeking a separate flood policy.
Regardless of the decision, having flood coverage ensures asset protection outside of your dock. For instance, your property may lead into a shopping district, recreational area, and dining location. A flooded port eliminates access to these amenities and damages your merchandise.
How To Insure a Commercial Boat Dock
First, consider contacting your local commercial insurance agent. Once you give details on your situation, inquire about coverage recommendations and estimated dock insurance coverage quotes. You may want to talk to multiple carriers to compare quotes and ensure the party is reliable.
Ensuring your boat dock is covered by insurance is a multi-step process, but it’s a process with proactivity in mind. With the number of risks properties face, you don't want to risk an injury or damage and be responsible for costly bills and repairs.
American Muscle Docks and Fabrication is an experienced dock company with a distinguished hardware and boat dock manufacturing history. Our inventory contains multiple dock installation kits you can add to your home or business.