It may seem like a good idea to cancel your boat or motorcycle policy in the off-season this winter to save some money but, it can end up costing you more in the long run if you do that.
Keeping your policy in place year-round could save you from having to pay for costly repairs out-of-pocket if something happens to your toy in the off-season. Most people only think about the risk they face while using the toy, but there are plenty of things that can happen while it is in storage.
Potential claims that could occur while a boat, ATV, or motorcycle is stored for the off-season:
- A strong storm comes through the area and knocks a tree onto your camper in the driveway.
- There is a fire in your garage and your boat, snowmobile, or ATV stored inside is damaged.
- You store your RV or boat in an off-season storage facility, and someone backs into it and does not leave their information.
- Your toy is stolen.
- You throw a birthday party for your child and their friends find your motorcycle in the garage and think it would be fun to pretend to ride it, but it falls on one of them and breaks their leg.
A common misconception is that if something is stored in your garage, it is automatically covered by your homeowners insurance. While that is true for some of your personal property, most homeowners policies specifically exclude coverage for motorized vehicles, which generally includes ATVs, motorcycles, and often even boats.
You may also save money on your policy in the long run if you keep it active all year!
Most insurance carriers take into consideration the amount of time in a year you are able to use your toy. For example, if you live in California and can drive your motorcycle most of the year, your rates will be higher to reflect the increased potential usage. If you live in Colorado and can only use your motorcycle or boat 5-6 months out of the year, you will be paying lower rates because the policy is only rating for the limited usage.
Since most policies do adjust the rate based on the amount of time the toy can actually be used throughout the year, the rate also reflects whether or not you have maintained continuous insurance. If you cancel your motorcycle policy every September or October when you put it in storage for the winter, when you go to get a new policy in place in May it will show that there has been a lapse in coverage. When there has been a lapse in coverage, the insurance carrier will often charge a higher premium than they would if you had left your policy in place.
There are some ways to save money in the off-season without cancelling your coverage.
While most insurance carriers will not allow you to remove liability coverage from your toy during the off-season, there are some other coverages you could look at removing or reducing while you are not using it. You could remove Collision coverage from the toy since it will not be used and therefore is unlikely suffer a collision. Additionally, if you have optional coverages like roadside assistance, you can look into removing those coverages while the toy is not in use.
If you do reduce any coverages, make sure you call your agent to add them back on before you start using your toy again, they will not automatically be added back on if you don’t request it.
If you have a loan on your toy, check with the lienholder BEFORE you reduce any coverages!
Most lienholders have specific requirements regarding the coverages you need to keep on your toy, so be sure to check with them before making any changes. If you remove coverages they require, you run the risk of your lender “force-placing” insurance on the toy which tends to cost more and provide less coverage.
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