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I Bought a Boat! Now What? Boat Insurance Basics for Your New Toy

Getting your very own boat is a fantastic achievement. The chances are that you want to hit the water straight away. Before you head to the lakes, however, it is crucial to take care of boat insurance. Without it, you could find your sailing dreams sunk before they even get started.

The world of insurance can be complicated, especially when you throw marine toys into the mix. If you need a boat insurance company, Lake Region Insurance Agency is here to help. We have the experience to know what you need to protect your investment. Reach out to our team of independent agents for a free review of your policies.

What Is Boat Insurance?

Boat insurance works like car insurance, and it offers excellent protection for you and your vessel. With adequate coverage in place, the policy will kick in to cover losses due to collision, theft, and vandalism. It can also include claims from third parties. If someone gets hurt or you damage someone’s property with your boat, your policy may cover those costs or legal expenses.

Boat Insurance Basics to Protect Your Investment

As with auto policies, there are several boat insurance choices available. Your agent can help you tailor a plan to fit your specific needs. Here are some boat insurance basics for you to consider.

Most boat policies will offer the following:

  • Comprehensive Coverage – This piece covers losses due to vandalism, theft, or fire. Plans typically pay for repair or replacement of your boat up to a set dollar limit.
  • Liability Coverage – This component covers the cost of property damage that you cause with your boat. It can include damage caused to another boat in the dock or on the water. And if you are at fault in an accident, it can cover legal costs.
  • Bodily Injury Coverage – If someone sustains an injury because of your boat, this plan can cover medical costs and time for missed work.
  • Collision Coverage – This type of policy covers the repairs to your boat after a collision. It can cover the full replacement value if needed.

Extra Coverage Options

In addition to the core policy needs, boat owners also may choose from a range of extras for added protection and financial security. These include:

  • Uninsured Boaters Coverage – As the name suggests, this protects you if an uninsured boater hits you. Policies can cover the loss of wages and the cost of medical treatment. They may also include other damage sustained as a result of a boating accident. If the liable boater does not have adequate insurance, you will still have protection.
  • Total Loss Replacement – Sometimes, the repairs to a boat would cost more than its value. In that situation, this plan replaces your vessel with the latest model or a comparable option.
  • Actual Cash Value – If your boat is totaled, this plan pays you the value of the vessel at the time of the accident.
  • On-Water Towing – This policy covers the cost of towing if your boat becomes disabled on the water.

All of these extras can help to make your life a little easier if disaster strikes. Your agent can help you choose the correct coverage for you.

Why Do I Need Boat Insurance?

A boat is a significant investment, and insurance helps you take steps to protect it. Boat insurance offers several benefits, including:

  • Financial Security – When accidents occur, repairs and medical costs can mount up quickly. Making sure that you have sufficient coverage helps to alleviate this financial strain. It offers a buffer in the event that things go wrong. Insurance protects your investment and your long-term financial health.
  • Time Saver – Some policies will replace your boat if there is a collision or other damage. If you would not be able to afford a new one immediately, this speeds up the process and gets you back on the water in no time.
  • Legal Protection – Depending on where you moor your boat, you may not have a choice about purchasing boat insurance. Some marinas and some states require at least a liability policy. If you get caught without insurance, you could lose your boating privileges and face steep penalties.

One devastating error some boat owners make is to assume their homeowners policy covers their vessel. Usually, this coverage does not extend to your boat, especially when you are on the water. It’s crucial to check all the details and get the right kind of plan in place.

Remember Boat Safety

Insurance is not a substitute for safe boating behavior. Different areas have various regulations regarding licensing, education, and age of the operator. To keep yourself, your passengers, and other water enthusiasts safe, follow basic safety guidelines:

  • Take a boating safety class before heading out for the first time.
  • Adhere to all local laws for boating.
  • Have plenty of personal floatation devices on board for everyone. It is always safest to wear a PFE when you are on the water.
  • Do not drink and boat. Have a designated driver just as you would for driving a car.
  • Keep a warning flag on board to raise whenever someone is in the water.
  • Pay attention to potential weather events.

We Can Help You Get Ready for the Lakes

If you need boat insurance for your vessel, our team can help you get just the right policy. We also have plans to cover other marine vehicles such as jet skis. To determine the level of coverage you need, we will consider:

  • The vessel’s age and condition
  • The vessel’s value
  • The vessel’s style – for example, fishing boat vs. ski boat

As an independent agency, we can access the policies from a wide range of insurance companies. Our focus is on making sure you receive the best possible plan for your protection. 

Working together, we craft a personalized plan that takes care of the essentials and gives you peace of mind. And our team can help you get all the different types of coverage that you may need, from home to auto to life. 

So if you’re eager to get your new boat out onto the water, call one of our offices to get started. We have staff in New London, Cokato, and Willmar, MN, to serve you.

 

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Why Is It Best to Work With an Independent Insurance Broker

Taking care of insurance is a necessary part of adult life, but finding the best deal can be a challenge. With so many options available, it may feel overwhelming to understand what you need. Working with an independent insurance broker is the best way to make the process easier and more cost-effective.

Lake Region Insurance Agency is proud to have independent agents to meet your insurance needs. We offer free reviews of the coverage you have and can help you fill in the gaps without confusion. Stop in at any of our Greater Minnesota insurance offices to get started.

What Is An Independent Insurance Broker?

As the name suggests, an independent agent works independently of a brand or company. So, rather than only selling policies from Allstate, for example, they have many different options to offer clients. This independence means they have access to a vast number of plans and are not bound to one company.

An independent broker can represent several insurance firms. This variety also allows them to provide services in a vast range of areas, from auto insurance to commercial policies and everything in between.

Advantages of An Independent Insurance Agent

Choosing an insurance agent without ties to one company provides many benefits:

1. You have many more options available.    

Many insurance companies specialize in a particular product or service, such as health insurance or auto insurance. This expertise means they have a strong knowledge of that niche but are unable to offer assistance on anything outside their specialty. 

An independent insurance agent has training in dozens of different products. This range gives them extensive knowledge and experience. Their customers can access a wide variety of products without having to go from brand to brand. 

Brokers have contacts and connections across the insurance industry. This choice means that you will have the chance to pick from a far more extensive range of products than if you remain with a particular company.

As well as accessing multiple insurance products in one place, independent brokers work with your best interest in mind. They do not have to worry about quotas and meeting the company’s demands to sell certain products. Instead, they can focus on getting the perfect policy or policies for what you need.

2. You will save time.

An independent insurance broker does the time-consuming work for you. They can swiftly search available plans that match your requirements. Their expertise makes quick work of a job that might take you hours and hours of online searching. Your time is highly valuable. Let an independent agent handle this task for you.

3. There is no extra charge for their expert help.

Some people have a mistaken idea that they have to pay the broker for their work. Independent insurance agents receive compensation from the companies, not from you. You do not have to pay extra for their service.

4. You can receive specialized insurance.

Some insurance needs fall into a niche. Areas such as critical illness protection or cyber liability insurance can be personal, lengthy, and complicated. In these areas, you may need to have coverage tailored to your exact needs. This level of detail can be hard to access when you are researching by yourself or using comparison tools. A broker will help.

A broker’s help is also great when you need to insure a high-value item, such as a piece of artwork or an antique. Experts in the industry will be able to help you purchase appropriate coverage with sufficient protection.

5. You will receive the best coverage for your needs.

Corporate insurance firms need you to purchase their policy. That is their business model. This plan means that they may not necessarily seek out a product that meets all your needs. The company’s sales goals generally come first, and this can be detrimental to customers.

An independent broker, however, has no such loyalties. They are not tied to any brand or company. Every quote or suggestion is in response to what you need, ensuring relevant policy results. You can analyze their proposals with trust and peace of mind. They take the time to learn about you and your situation to find the right fit.

6. You can save money.

The benefit of using an independent insurance broker is that they can see the big picture. They have access to a significant number of deals, policies, and offers, allowing them to find the best rates. 

Independent agents also can be sure they are comparing apples to apples as they help you shop for policies. They will make sure that property, liability limits and deductibles match up before showing you the different rates. Since they spend time getting to know what you need, they can find just the right policy at a competitive price. 

7. Get help with claims.

Using a broker to buy your insurance policy also helps to speed up the process if you need to make a claim. With just one call to your independent agent, the process will be underway. 

Filing a claim infers that you are already in a stressful situation. Your experienced broker can help relieve some of that worry. From navigating the initial report to submitting paperwork for settlement, an independent insurance broker can help you the whole way.

The Next Steps

If you are ready to shop for a new insurance policy, take advantage of the skills of a broker. Here at Lake Region Insurance Agency, we provide advice and assistance on a range of insurance types:

  • Auto
  • Home
  • Commercial
  • Life
  • Health

We have offices to serve you in New London, Willmar, and Cokato, MN. Our qualified team of experts is on hand to help you with all your insurance needs. Our neighbors and friends rely on us to provide excellent service, and it’s an honor to do just that.

Get in touch today for a free quote to see how we can streamline your insurance search. It doesn’t have to be stressful. We can take care of all the hard work for you and offer the most competitive rates. We’d love to get to know you. 

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Stay Safe: Top 5 Winter Driving Tips

Snowy, wet, and icy road conditions are the leading causes of accidents during the winter. Traveling in these conditions can be nerve-wracking and stressful. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that more than 150,000 car accidents happen each year due to icy roads. Learning some winter driving tips can help you stay safe on the road.

Make sure you have the right coverage for your needs in your auto insurance policy. The team at Lake Region Insurance Agency can help you feel confident that you are well-covered.

Hit the Road With These Winter Driving Tips

Winter driving in Minnesota has its risks and concerns. But with awareness and education, you can feel ready to drive safely all year long. Take a look at these five tips.

1. Purchase Winter Tires 

There are a few different types of tires available for vehicles:

  • Summer
  • Winter
  • All-Season

Summer tires have smaller tread because the roads are generally clear and safe to drive on during the summertime. All-season tires have a thicker tread than summer tires and are suitable to use year-round in many parts of the country. 

Winter tires have the most substantial tread and provide the most traction for driving in dicey road conditions. Studded tires are a type of winter tire that has metal studs in the tread for traction on icy roads.

All-season tires have enough tread to provide an adequate grip on maintained roads. They are a safe choice if you live in an urban area where the streets are plowed regularly. 

However, on inconsistently-plowed roads, all-season tires are an unsafe option. For those who live in rural areas or small towns, winter tires are the safest choice. If you opt for studded tires, be sure to check the regulations where you live to know if and when they are legal to use.

2. Pay Attention to Windshield Wipers and Washer Fluid

Snow, ice, and road maintenance chemicals will be attacking your windshield all winter long. Not to mention the dirt, gravel, and grime that splatters up at your car as you drive. In these conditions, your visibility can disappear quickly.  

It is essential to check your windshield wipers at the beginning of the winter season. You want to ensure that they are working well and that the blades are in acceptable condition. Many Minnesota drivers replace their wiper blades each year when winter arrives.

How do you keep your windshield washer fluid from freezing? Making sure the washer fluid tank is full helps you avoid this problem. You can also choose a windshield washer fluid that is specifically for wintertime. Its formula helps prevent it from freezing.

And of course, parking your vehicle in the garage can keep fluids from freezing and help protect your car from the cold weather. Blankets placed over the hood of your vehicle can also help keep everything working correctly.

3. Have Tools for Ice and Snow Removal

Unless your garage is available for parking, winter driving in Minnesota means clearing off your car in the morning before heading to work. A combination snow brush and ice scraper is a great tool to keep in your vehicle. Having one on hand makes it easier to remove all the ice and snow from your car in the morning. 

First, you should brush the snow off all the surface areas of your car. Brush the hood, windows, and roof. Once you have cleaned much of the snow off your vehicle, you can use the ice scraper tool to remove any ice from the windows. 

It is crucial to remove the snow from your car before you start your commute. Snow left on the hood of the vehicle can blow onto the windshield, and snow from the roof can fall onto your windshield when you brake. Both of these problems limit your visibility. Take some extra time in the morning to be thorough when clearing your car.

4. Check Your Car Battery and Antifreeze

Spoiler alert – cars don’t love the cold. One way to ensure that your vehicle will get you from point A to point B all winter long is to check that your battery is in good working condition. If your battery is old, it may not make it through a Minnesota winter. 

According to AAA, your car battery loses up to 60 percent of its power as the temperature drops. Historically, car batteries have had a lifespan of about three to five years. But now, with the increasing usage of electronics in cars, the lifespan of a battery is shrinking. All that phone charging takes a toll on the strength of your battery. 

Antifreeze is vital when it comes to winter driving tips. It keeps the radiator’s water from boiling in the summer and freezing in the winter. If the antifreeze gets too low, it can cause the water in the cooling system to freeze. Once that happens, it can cause cracks in the pipes that will require costly repairs.

Be sure to check your antifreeze level regularly and top it off as needed. It is also critical to have your radiator flushed and cleaned according to your vehicle’s manufacturer recommendations.

5. Keep Up with Car Maintenance

Before hitting the road during the winter, double-check that your vehicle is up-to-date on all of its maintenance. With proper upkeep, your car will experience fewer problems and keep you safer when you’re driving in snow and ice. Keep up with regular oil changes, battery checks, and other routine services.

Common sense goes a long way in making sure you have a safe winter on the road. Keep plenty of gas in the tank, make sure your windows and headlights are clean, and keep fluids topped off.

Following these winter driving tips should help you have a safe season of commuting. The more thorough you prepare, the better.

Lake Region Insurance Agency Can Help

If you need a quote on auto insurance or aren’t sure if you have adequate coverage, reach out to our Lake Region team today. We will work through every detail with you for home, auto, health, and life insurance.