Insurance 101 for Marina Operators & Watercraft Owners

June 8, 2021
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It’s that time of year. The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and the lakes are calling our names.  It’s boating season, the busiest time of year at marinas across Ontario. If you’re a marina operator, dock your boat at a marina, or tow and launch your own boat, it’s a good time to re-assess your insurance needs before diving into lake life.

Why do I need marina or boating insurance?

Boating life is great, but unfortunately, there can be some turbulent waters if you don’t have adequate coverage.

If you’re a marina operator and damage is done to one of the boats under your watch, you could be held responsible for that damage if it was caused by something you did that you should not have done or did not do that you should have done.

If you’re a watercraft owner and you don’t have the proper boating insurance, you could be stuck up a “Schitt’s” creek without a paddle if your vessel is damaged or you cause damage to someone else’s vessel or property.

Insurance Basics for Marina Operators: What You Need to Know

Five words: Marina Operators Legal Liability Coverage. This type of coverage insures the risks associated with everyday marina operations, specifically the exposure related to the watercraft in you care, custody, and control (CCC). Coverage that would not be available if you had just a standard General Liability Policy.

Marina Operators Liability Coverage may include both land and water exposures at the marina while protecting you if you do service or maintenance on . As a marina operator, you’re responsible for providing the boats, aka Personal Watercraft (PWC), or any other vessel at your facility with a safe berth – aka their dedicated docking space.  It’s your responsibility to advise the watercraft operator of any hazards or risks associated with your marina or the space in which they dock.

If you fail to do this, you’ll be liable to the watercraft owner / operator for any damages that result from the unsafe berth. It is important to note, it is the boatowner’s responsibility to ensure they tie up properly as well.

These policies normally cover private pleasure craft, but they don’t automatically cover commercial boats.  If a commercial boat docks at your marina and you don’t have the right coverage in case of an accident, you could be liable.

No need to worry! Our brokers are here to help make sure you’re properly covered.

Insurance Basics for Watercraft Owners: What You Need to Know

Though a homeowner’s policy will cover smaller craft up to a limited length and horsepower (think a canoe or smaller motor dinghy), boating insurance is a must for most watercraft owners. It can protect you against damage to your vessel, or an injury you cause to someone in the event of an accident.

It can cover damage to your boat – sails, hull, equipment motor, and more. In the best case of a worst-case scenario, it can also cover things like fuel spill liability, wreckage removal, and damage to a boat or property owned by someone else.  What about theft? Yep, boating insurance can cover that too.

Boating insurance can also give you perks like covering emergency towing if required, coverage for personal property you keep on board, and even coverage for your precious fishing equipment.

Of course, no one wants these kinds of events to happen. It pays to be prepared. In addition to revisiting your boating insurance every spring, we also recommend taking some time to refresh your boating safety knowledge. The Canadian Safe Boating Council has some great resources.

The price of boating insurance is influenced by the size, value and horsepower of your watercraft, the type or model, the amount of coverage you choose, frequency of use, and how you store your boat. If you dock or store your boat at a marina, it’s also worth asking about their coverage.


If you’re in the marina business, or simply all about the boat life and in the business of having fun on the water, don’t skip on insurance. It’s there to help you stay afloat when things get rocky.

Not sure if you’ve got the right coverage? Give us a call at 1.855.740.4700 or reach out to your Gifford Carr broker. We’ll make sure it’s smooth sailing.

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