Boat sales have skyrocketed in recent years, and it’s no surprise. Boating offers much-needed exercise, stress relief, and quality time with friends and family (or quality alone time for those days when you need to get away from friends and family).
If you’re a business owner, buying a boat can offer tax advantages. If you’re retired, buying a boat gives you an affordable option for really enjoying those golden years. However, before you find yourself in the deep end of the boat buying process, you should give serious consideration to the following questions:
- What is your boat purchase budget?
- What kind of boat buying experience are you looking for?
- How do you plan to use your boat?
- Where will you store your boat?
- Have you budgeted for annual maintenance?
- How will you protect your boat from risks?
What is your boat purchase budget?
There’s a perfect boat for just about every budget. A used boat in good condition can be a great starter boat. It gives you a chance to enter the boating scene, get a feel for it, and decide if it’s for you without the larger price tags that come with new boats.
However, every boat – whether new or used – comes with costs beyond the asking price, as we noted in a recent article on the true cost of boating. When you’re thinking about your boat purchase budget, be sure to factor in the following:
- Financing costs
- Registration, titling, and taxes
- Boat insurance
- Docking or marina fees
- Storage fees
- Fuel costs
- Regular maintenance expenses
- Gear and accessories
What kind of boat buying experience are you looking for?
Obviously, you want to get the most boat for your buck, and you want the boat buying process to be as stress-free as possible. Should you shop around independently and purchase a new boat from a private seller who may offer a great deal, owner financing, and no dealer fees? Or would you be better off paying a knowledgeable boat dealer who can offer a manufacturer’s warranty and greater peace of mind?
That largely depends on the boat dealer and the private seller in question. In either case, do your research upfront to make sure you’re purchasing from a reputable seller, and always get an independent survey of a boat to ensure there are no surprises.
How do you plan to use your boat?
Instead of looking for the perfect boat, look for the right boat for your needs. How you plan to use your new boat will impact decisions about:
- Whether a new boat or used boat is appropriate
- What size boat do you need
- What boat type will best meet your needs
If your goal is fishing on local lakes during fishing season, a trailerable jon boat may be all you need. If you want to impress clients with champagne on the deck of your new boat, you’ll have to spend more to get a boat with all the amenities. If your goal is to spend more time with family, you’ll want to give thought to what your family members enjoy: active watersports, quiet coastal cruising, or something else altogether.
Where will you store your boat?
The type of boat you buy and the amount of time you plan to spend on it will determine the kind of storage you’ll need. You may be able to store a small boat at home. If you plan to live aboard a sailing yacht, you can moor out for very little cost.
Likewise, boat owners who live in warmer climates can keep their boats at a marina year-round, which can be an affordable option depending on your location. If you can only get to your boat a few weekends during the season, you’ll need to consider more protective and costly dry storage.
Pro Boat Tips: If you have to keep your boat at a marina, yacht club, or dry boat storage, start looking for available spots as soon as possible. Boat storage facilities in busy boating areas often have a waiting list.
Have you budgeted for annual maintenance?
Whether you purchase a new boat or a used boat, you can count on annual maintenance. Over time, your systems will become obsolete, fiberglass will need repair, and upholstery and canvas covers will become mildewy.
The general rule of thumb among boaters is that annual maintenance costs are equivalent to about 10% of the cost of the boat when it was new.
A new $30,000 bass boat will cost about $3,000 per year to maintain. For a much older boat or a used boat in need of work, those costs are going to be higher. Likewise, boats that operate in salt waters will require more care over the years as the caustic environment will take a toll on systems and structure.
How will you protect your boat from risks?
As more boaters take to the water with their new boats, the number of boating accidents and injuries has increased by more than 25%, according to the American Boating Association.
Inexperienced boaters, uninsured boaters, and careless veteran boaters can all contribute to costly collisions that take your new boat out of commission.
The average boat insurance claim hovers around $11,000, but a comprehensive insurance policy protects your boat investment from risk, allowing you to cover medical expenses and even the cost of a new boat in some cases.
Consider covering your new purchase with boat insurance created by boaters just like you
If you want to understand the true cost of buying a boat, talk to a seasoned boater. If you want to get a clear picture of the risks associated with boating, talk to someone who spends time on the water boating. If you want insurance tailored to your specific boating needs, talk to the boaters at Ahoy! Insurance.
We’ve combined our passion for boating with our knowledge of insurance and technology to design the most comprehensive, innovative insurance solutions on the market. Our “First Mate” concierge service offers non-intrusive assistance when you need it most, and our mobile app offers support to help prevent risk.