Boat sharing vs. Boat ownership

  • Do you like to use a boat on vacation or business?
  • Is a bad day fishing better than a good day at work?
  • Do you enjoy the care free breeze in your hair, the smell of the water, the sun in your face?

Of course, who doesn’t…but does the cost of insurance, dock, gas, storage, and upkeep prevent you from living this dream?

Boat Sharing

Enter Boat Sharing as a new business model for all the people who answered Yes to the questions above.

Why, because depending where you live, living your dreams can be a lot of work.

For example, if you live in the Northeast and/or live or vacation at Lake George, NY….here comes Freedom Boat Club to rescue your dream.

Boat sharing vs. Boat ownership

Boat Insurance

Traditionally, most insurance companies provide limited coverage for property damage for small boats such as canoes, small sail boats or small power boats with less than 25 mile per hour horse power under a homeowners or renters policy. Coverage typically is about $1,000 or 10 % of the home’s insured value and generally includes the boat, motor and trailer combined.

Liability coverage is typically not included–but it can be added as an endorsement to a homeowners policy. Larger and faster boats such as yachts, and personal watercraft such as jet skis and wave runners historically required a separate boat insurance policy. The size, type and value of the craft and the water in which you use it factor into how much you will pay for insurance coverage.

Expense Savings

Here comes the Boat Sharing model, like Freedom boat club.

The total annual costs of owning a boat can range from $5,000 to $6,000 when you add up costs of winter storage, cleaning, maintenance, insurance, dock fees, etc.  The boat sharing model will reduce those costs and risks to you.

Since the boat sharing companies will have larger boat fleets and larger relationships with insurers, they will have better negotiating leverage when it comes to boating insurance, ultimately saving their members money long term.

The Boat sharing model includes insurance costs, safety classes, etc. to its membership, therefore you don’t have to fret over the insurance purchase.  In today’s rental society, insurance savings and expense savings are  some of the many advantages to this model for consumers and business owners.

I have found individuals feel like a shark out of water, when it comes to buying insurance, especially boat insurance – because they are not sure whether to insure boats like a car or home.

Insurance implications

Including understanding the following concepts such as:

  • Protecting your boat
  • adding safety features,
  • agreed value and market value for your boat,
  • Depreciation
  • and working with your agent/insurer always maintain the appropriate coverage amounts,

These issues have the ability to create frustrating scenarios where people end up over/under insuring and/or not get their expected money back in return when it is time to file a claim.  The classic Catch 22 of Insurance.

In addition, if boaters are following for advice about how to buy insurance, they will be stress free when it comes to insurance purchases if they shift to the boat sharing model.   However, the insurance savings and added protection is the smaller piece of the decision to move to a stress free boating lifestyle – boat sharing.

Growing market

With over “75 million people in the U.S. participate in recreational boating”, according to 2010 data from the National Marine Manufacturers Association – we think this boat sharing business has a long way to grow – but the appetite is there and its time to grow market share.


More and more people will start transitioning to boat sharing – like the rest of the economy is doing with cars, homes, etc.  Especially millennials who are the biggest generation embracing the shared economy.

Insurers would benefit partnering with companies like Freedom Boat Club and boaters will obviously benefit from more time, stress free, and cost efficient use of a boat club membership.

Please note, negligent use of any property or shared assets won’t alleviate all risks by being a part of a sharing pool.  A court could decide the individual user has personal liability outside of the shared insurance coverage.   Consider purchasing umbrella insurance as well to protect yourself.  

The shared economy is an evolving topic that hasn’t had long to be tested in the court system.   This article is to point out the cost savings, and it is encouraged that everyone maintain the appropriate safety on the water, road, etc., even though the insurance costs are less of a concern as your pool or join a shared club.  

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Arnold Smith

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