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Your Guide for How to Buy a Boat in Minnesota

SOmeone making a boat pruchase after learning how to buy a boat in MN

Sure, you’ve purchased a car before–you know how that experience goes–but what about a boat? That’s why Lake Region Insurance Agency is here with a guide on how to buy a boat.

Insure the things you love. Lake Regional Insurance Agency can provide a policy for your car, RV, or boat. We have a policy that suits your needs and we are excited to serve you. 

Contact us today for a free quote.    

How To Buy A Boat: Do Your Research

A large boat with a for sale sign on it.

Before you decide to buy a boat, it is crucial to ask yourself what type of boat. As with any other large purchase, it’s necessary to do your research in advance. 

You wouldn’t purchase a sports car as a family car for toting children to soccer games and various extracurricular activities. Like cars, boats have specific purposes. 

Before you sign a contract, you want to ask yourself some questions about how you plan to use the boat. 

Do you plan to haul your boat from one launch to another to cast your line into the waters? Or host friends on the water as the sun sinks in the sky? Or enjoy an afternoon of water sports? 

There are so many different boats, and each of these questions can lead you to a specific boat. If you need help with your decision, look at Choosing the Right Boat: Buying Guide for Recreational Boating.

Determining how you plan to use the boat and what type of boat suits your needs is a good start. But there are still more questions to answer before you buy a boat. Some considerations include the purchase price, costs of boat maintenance, and features.    

New Or Used

Once you have determined the type of boat you want, decide whether to purchase a new or used boat. By buying used, you save money upfront. But just like purchasing a used car, it is important to be aware of telltale signs of damage or underlying mechanical issues.

When purchasing a boat from a boat dealer, the boat buying process can be simpler but more expensive.

Start Shopping

A man drivig a boat with yellow interior accents.

With your budget determined and the decision of buying a new or used boat made–it’s time to start boat shopping. Start by searching online for boats for sale. You can compare models, sizes, prices, and features without leaving the comfort of your home. 

One place to begin your search is boats.com, where you can use an options menu to specify your search. Search options include dealer location, model, and price. 

The internet is vast, and you could look at boat listings endlessly. You eventually will have to narrow down your choices and go to see the boats in person. Another way to shop for a marine vessel is to attend a boat show in your area. 

Pro tips to keep in mind while shopping:

  1. Compare the feature list of two similar boats. 
  2. Carefully compare the photos of the vessels to see if anything is missing in the listing. 
  3. Check listings for unnecessary amenities that may end up costing you money later to repair if they break. 

Inspection Time

A man conducting a boat inspection on a motorboat

Once you find the boat of your dreams and it’s within your grasp–it’s time to get it inspected. You want to make sure you are leaving with your dream boat, not a lemon. 

Some deals seem just too good to be true. If this is the case, do a walk-through of the vessel to see if the boat is worth further investigation. 

If you want to see how the boat handles on the open water, you can take it for a sea trial. Get an accurate idea of the boat’s performance by testing the boat similarly to how you plan to use it.  

Arrive prepared with a checklist of things you want to investigate during the sea trial. The most important thing to keep in mind is how you plan to use the boat. 

Once you’re serious about buying a boat–consider having it hauled. Many mechanical elements that can remain hidden below the waterline (in the hull) affect the boat’s performance.

If you are not confident in your technical knowledge of the mechanics of the boat, consider hiring a marine surveyor. A boat surveyor will inspect the boat from inside and out to let you know the boat’s condition.

If you purchase a boat over 30 feet long, many insurance companies will require you to have it surveyed beforehand. 

Closing The Deal 

A large purchase such as a boat requires conscious planning and forethought. There can be a great deal of stress that goes into making such a large purchase. 

Before you close the deal, there may be some negotiations on the agreed price of the boat. For closing, it’s important to do your research prior and know where you are comfortable financially. 

Registering Your Boat In Minnesota

Pontoon boats docked on a MN lake

Once you have purchased your boat, it’s time to get it registered and insured before getting it into the water. You will register it at the DNR License Center, the same place you register your car. 

With boats over 16 feet, your dealer will register and title the boat and will provide you with the paperwork. But if you’re registering a boat for yourself for the first time you’ll want to have some information readily available:

  • The boat’s length
  • Manufacturer 
  • Type of hull material (metal, wood, or plastic)
  • Type of propulsion 
  • Model
  • Year
  • Serial or hull identification number (HIN)
  • A receipt that shows paid sales tax      

For additional information, visit the Department of Natural Resources.

Insuring Your Boat

Someone cradling a blue paper boat symbolising protecting your boat with boat insurance.

Before you dip your new toy into the water, you will want to protect your fun investment. You can do so with boat and marine insurance. There are several ways to protect yourself and your property with boat insurance. 

  • Collision Damage: Protects your boat in the event there is a collision with another boat or stationary object. 
  • Property Damage: Protects you if there is damage to someone else’s property (e.g., someone’s boat, car, or dock). Your insurance can help cover any incurred costs.
  • Bodily Injury: This coverage helps in the event someone gets hurt with or while they’re on your boat. Your insurance will help cover costs of medical expenses, income loss, pain and suffering, and any legal expenses.
  • Comprehensive: Protects your vessel in the event it is stolen, damaged, or vandalized. 

Now that you know how to buy a boat, call us at Lake Region Insurance Agency for more information on boat and marine insurance.  Lake Region Insurance Agency will keep your vessel protected and underway by providing coverage to suit your needs.

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