Do You Need Insurance for a Sailboat on Lake Michigan?

There’s nothing quite like the sense of freedom that comes from owning a boat, but it comes with its unique responsibilities as well. Before you take your sailboat out for a cruise on Lake Michigan, you should understand your potential liabilities. Whether or not you’re required by law to purchase insurance for your boat depends on your circumstances, but everyone should take out a policy to protect their financial and personal interests regardless of their situation.


When You’re Required to Purchase Boat Insurance

Despite universal statewide laws regarding insurance on cars, Michigan’s regulations for boat owners aren’t stringent. Anyone who owns a sailboat needs to register their watercraft on a semi-regular basis, but it’s an affordable and simple process. Registration decals cost a mere nine dollars and only need to be renewed once every three years. Michigan does not require your sailboat to be insured to take it out on open waters.

The exception lies in cases where you don’t own your boat outright. To protect your investment, banks with outstanding loans for a boat require their lessees to keep and maintain insurance on their boat. The particular terms can vary from bank to bank, but no bank wants to see their financial investment go delinquent due to an unfortunate accident. According to Trusted Choice, Marinas also often require boats moored in their docks to invest in insurance as well, and organizations often require anyone participating in their events to be fully insured. If your boat isn’t insured, you’ll want to speak to the people in charge to determine exactly what is required of you.

Why You Should Still Invest in Boat Insurance

While you may not be legally required to take out insurance on your boat, insurance is a practical investment that’s well worth the cost. Plus, it’s not hard to find cheap boat insurance. Accidents can happen at any time, and just because you’re not at fault doesn’t mean that your investment is secured. Inclement weather, hazardous obstacles, and reckless drivers can quickly turn your beautiful watercraft into scrap, and you’ll have little recourse if you haven’t decided to purchase insurance. Insurance can also protect you from damage like floods or fires while your boat is moored or acts of destructive vandalism.

And just because Michigan doesn’t require boat insurance doesn’t mean that you’re protected from litigation. A civil suit can come in many forms. Whether a passenger suffers an injury while sailing on your boat, choppy conditions cause a collision with another boat, or an unexpected fire starting at your boat spreads to other docks, you could be responsible for damages. When you invest in boat insurance, your company will provide you with a defense attorney to represent you in court; and if the court rules against you, you can expect your company to pay for damages up to the total of your liability coverage.


What insurance you think you need will depend on your personal preferences and capacity to absorb risks, but making use of online quote comparison tools and speaking with an insurance agent can help you get a better understanding of the options available to you.