If you’re planning to build a houseboat one of the most important things to consider is houseboat insurance. The availability of houseboat insurance will, in most cases, determine what you can do with your new houseboat.
Boats occasionally sink. Even if you are only going to leave your houseboat in a slip at a marina you will need insurance on it. In some cases, lots of insurance. Bodily injury, renters reimbursement, property damage, medical insurance and, if you’re going to take your houseboat for a spin, emergency towing insurance will all have to be considered. Imagine the clean-up costs you might incur if you have an oil spill or a sewage leak. Personal liability insurance is a given.
Oh, I know it might only have cost you 10 or 20 thousand dollars to build your little floating house, but imagine your floating home crashing into you neighbors $400,000 floating palace. You would probably be responsible and should have houseboat insurance to cover the damages to the other boat. A marina must make sure you can cover the damages to the other guy, not to mention the marina or they might have to cover it.
When you look into houseboat insurance on a home built houseboat it seems that it’s not always as easy as calling the little Geico lizard. Many companies don’t want to touch home built houseboats. Many will require an expensive boat survey at a minimum and still only cover certain things. The goal is to find affordable houseboat insurance or the whole idea becomes too expensive. One of the largest companies that provide houseboat insurance is BoatUS, but many folks report that they will require a marine survey and try to force you to use only “their” boat surveyors. There is a great thread on this subject at the Boatdesign.net forum.
Another place to check is Marine Underwriters Agency. They provide marine insurance on all kinds of boats including houseboats as well as mega yachts.
You will also want to think about getting insurance on the houseboat building project. Once you have a bunch of bucks tied up in fancy wood and epoxy you surely don’t want to see it all go up in smoke or be vandalized. Just as you need builders risk insurance on a home building project, you should also have insurance protection on your boat building adventure.
If you’re building this houseboat in your backyard, you should check with your homeowner’s insurance company. It may be covered already while in the construction process. If not, you may be able to add a rider on to your policy to cover it until it’s completed. Always check with your current Insurance company. Often you can get a discount they insure multiple items on the same policy or policies.
It’s important also to keep your terms straight. Remember when dealing with Insurance companies to refer to your boat or houseboat as a “custom built” not a “home built.” Another idea is to consider your project as a “classic” houseboat. “Classics” are also given more consideration than “home built.” A good agency to try for insurance on classics of all description, be it cars or boats, is Hagerty Insurance. They insure nationwide and they also write policies on cars and motorcycles.
RV America Insurance provides insurance products of all types, including “home built” boats. (which we all call “custom boats”)
Home Built Boat
A Home Built houseboat should be a source of enjoyment and pride, not a floating cesspool of frustration and stress, so get your insurance plans lined up before committing to a large “custom” houseboat building project. One couple I read about spent 3 years in North Carolina restoring an old houseboat only to find at the end, they couldn’t get it insured. I hope they have found insurance by now. It would surely drive you nuts, but wait — if your thinking about building your own houseboat — you’re probably on your way already.
Boat Insurance Agency Houseboat Insurance in the Northwest
RQRiley.com help with Licensing and insuring home built vehicles
DiscoverBoating.com help with insuring Home Built craft
If you want to learn more about building a small houseboat visit