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Am I covered if I lend my boat to a friend?

Even with the short boating season and summer weather calling sometimes you can’t always get out to the lake to enjoy it. So why not lend the boat to a friend for a weekend? Or maybe send it out with the kids to be used at the family cabin? But make sure you don’t forget about your insurance – are you covered in case someone gets hurt or your boat gets damaged?

The importance of boat insurance

If you don’t have boat insurance you won’t be covered. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada boat insurance is not a legal requirement but having it can save you a lot of costs related to damage and liability due to accidents and unforeseen events. Who wants to be knocked back thousands of dollars by an unexpected incident when it could be covered by having insurance?

People often believe that their boats are automatically covered by their home insurance policy just because it is kept on their property. This is not quite true. Even when a boat is listed on a home insurance policy you need to make sure it is specific insurance that provides comprehensive coverage – damage and liability wherever your boat is.

Some insurance companies that specialize in boat insurance may offer a bundle discount if you place your boat and home insurance with them – even though they’re separate policies.

Many home insurance policies provide basic generic coverage for boats. A separate policy will cover damage to your boat and associated equipment as well as cover liability for damage to property belonging to other people and medical expenses due to an accident involving your boat.  Specialized policies generally have some unique coverage options which offer better protection for the range of activities you do with your boat.

I’m insured with boat insurance; but am I covered if I lend my boat to a friend?

As long as you’re not paying someone or being paid by someone to use your boat your personal boat insurance policy should provide coverage. However you should pay close attention to the terms and conditions in your policy.

If you lend your boat to a friend make sure:

  • They have the appropriate boating license.
  • They aren’t running a business or other commercial transaction using your boat.
  • You’re not accepting money or paying them anything to use your boat.
  • They will remain sober when operating your boat.
  • Your boat is fully equipped with safety equipment including life jackets and a first aid kid.
  • Your friend will enforce a rule that life jackets are to be worn at all times.
  • You really trust your friend!

Friendships can go sour in the event of an accident even if it’s minor. Ensure they understand the safety and maintenance protocols to help make sure everyone has a great time and your boat and its passengers stay safe.

If someone regularly operates your boat (such as a relative or good friend) you may want to consider talking to your broker. Sometimes the wordings of policies can be confusing and it may not be clear if your friend is covered or not. Give your broker a call! They’re here to help answer your questions and translate insurance jargon into regular words.