Does my auto insurance cover towing a boat?

Liability auto insurance will cover damage your boat causes. Only boat insurance will protect the boat itself. Save up to 25% with hidden discounts for policy bundles.

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Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance...

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Reviewed byDaniel Walker
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UPDATED: Apr 23, 2020

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Things to remember...
  • Even though a boat and trailer are attached to the vehicle you are driving, they are not covered in quite the same way as your car
  • If your boat causes damage to another vehicle while in tow, the damages you are responsible for could be covered up to the limits of your liability policy
  • If another car damages your boat in an accident, your car insurance will not apply to the damaged boat itself
  • If your boat detaches from the trailer and car and causes an accident, your car insurance would probably not cover those damages
  • Boat insurance could be a wise investment if you are planning on towing your boat frequently


For your car insurance coverage, a boat must be actually attached to the car via a trailer in order to have damages from an accident covered.

While an auto liability policy could help you to pay for damages that you are responsible for in an accident to another car, your damaged boat is probably not going to be covered by your car insurance.

If you will be towing a boat with any frequency, it may be a good idea to look into boat insurance. You might be able to bundle this with your car insurance for a better rate.

Find the best policy for your car and boat by entering your zip above to compare free quotes!

Auto Insurance Coverage for Damages Caused by Your Boat in an Accident

A basic auto liability policy is how you pay for damages that you cause for another car in a car crash.

If you are towing your boat and it remains attached to your car in an accident, then the damages that your boat causes could be covered by auto liability coverage. The amount of the damages covered will depend on your specific policy limits.

Keep in mind that if your boat does not remain attached to your car or trailer in the accident and is totally separate, your car insurance may decline coverage for damages to another car.

Even if the boat was attached to your car or trailer for most of your travel and just suddenly separated, it would not be covered if it was not attached during the accident.

If you plan on towing a boat for a long trip or on busy roads, then it is a good idea to think about increasing the limits of your liability coverage. Often times, the state minimums are not enough in terms of paying for all of the damages that result in an accident.

With the additional risk of towing a large boat, you have another strong reason to seek out some additional coverage.

For specific information about what types of trailers, boats, or add-ons that could be covered under your current car insurance policy, you will want to take a look at the declarations page of your policy.

If you are unable to find a copy of your policy, you can always request that your insurance company send you an additional one. It is a good idea to have this document on hand in case you need to file a claim or have questions about your coverage

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Auto Insurance Coverage for Damage to Your Own Boat in an Accident

Unfortunately, if you are seeking coverage for damage to your own boat from a car accident, you may not be able to recover from a standard car insurance policy. Instead, you should look into whether it would make sense for you to have a boat insurance policy.

There are special provisions in a boat policy that provide coverage for accidents when you are towing your boat on the road. You may have to pay a deductible, which will depend on how much you think you can afford to pay out of pocket for damages from an accident.

You may be able to get this policy from your same insurance company. If so, you could end up saving more money than if you had to use two separate insurance companies because of discounts for bundling multiple insurance policies.

When you are shopping for boat insurance, the same principles apply as for comparison shopping for car insurance. You will want to get multiple quotes in case you are eligible for better discounts from another insurance company.

You also want to make sure that you get enough coverage to protect both your boat and yourself in the event that you are responsible for an accident with your boat.

Be sure to ask about coverage for the trailer that is used to transport your boat as well.

The Final Word on Auto Insurance Coverage for Towing a Boat

If you are part of an accident where the boat you are towing inflicts damage on another car, then you could be covered by your liability policy for the damages.

However, the coverage will only extend up to your policy limits and will not cover you if the boat was not attached to the car or trailer when the accident occurred.

The reason boat insurance makes sense for avid boaters is that damage to your boat itself is not covered by your standard car insurance policy when you are towing it on public roads.

Consider the advantages of bundling your car and boat insurance through the same insurance company and that you have adequate coverage for the value of your boat.

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