Want To Buy A Boat? What To Consider

Looking for a new boat this summer?  We are known for our Auto Insurance, Home Insurance and Commercial Insurance, but we also provide coverage for boats, motorcycles and all your summer fun activities!

More and more people are opting for vacations close to home and where they can just relax and get away.  The CoVid19 pandemic has sparked a huge increase in boat sales as families are looking to get out, get way and stay safe. 

Relax in your boat on the lake
There is nothing more relaxing than a day on the lake

With that, let’s talk about what to look at when purchasing a boat

Consider what you want to do with the boat

Knowing your needs, what type of activities you want to do on your boat and what your goals are through this purchase will help you narrow down your options and focus you on buying a boat that will meet your needs. 

Think through what you will want to use the boat for:
Freshwater Fishing
Saltwater Fishing
Day Cruising
Overnight Cruising

discoverboating.com has a wonderful boat finder tool. 


Water Sports
Water sports are great family fun!

First: Decide if You Want to Buy a New Boat or a Used Boat

New or Used?  This is a tough call!!  This will all come down to your tastes, expectations, budget, and your mechanical aptitude.  Here are some thoughts:

Benefits Buying a New Boat

  • Who doesn’t like a shiny, new toy? No need to wonder how the boat’s been used or misused, or if it’s been adequately winterized and commissioned. There is no history to uncover, because you’ll write this boat’s on-water biography.
  • You can buy exactly what you want and not just what’s on the preowned market. You’ll be getting the latest, greatest technology and innovations.
  • If something does go awry, you’ll have a manufacturer’s warranty to back you up. That warranty is served by the selling dealer, which is a good reason to buy nearby.
  • You can rig it the way you want with the latest gear selected precisely for your purpose. Unless you buy a boat-and-motor combo with the lowest-offered powerplant, it’s probably a satisfying match.
  • You don’t have to get an answer to the most troubling question: Why is this used boat for sale?

Benefits Buying a Pre-Owned Boat

  • With a used boat, you get more boat for fewer dollars, lower cost per year of ownership, and less on the line if you decide a different style or size boat would better serve you.
  • It sounds funny, but there’s peace of mind in knowing you’re not going to put the first scratch or ding in the boat.
  • Any initial bugs in boat or motor have likely surfaced and been dealt with. For reassurance, and before signing, get a marine survey. Marine surveyors see what you can’t and look where you won’t. First, get a survey. Then smile and buy, whittle down the price, draft your own to-do list, or walk away.
  • You get time-tested technologies. If a manufacturer brought out a bad boat or balky motor, the Internet and other sources will wave you off.

You can choose a style of sale—from the trade-in or used stock of a dealer, who has to cover overhead but has a reputation to guard and a service bay; from a broker, who has reduced overhead costs; or from a private seller, who may be most motivated.

Determine Your Budget: 

Owning a boat is not as expensive as many people think. 
However, there are many factors to take into consideration and they are all very specific to the type of boat you purchase.  Take these factors into consideration

Fishing boat at sunset
Ahhhh….fishing at sunset

Costs to Purchase The Boat

Monthly Payments (If you finance it)
A Trailer
Boat Delivery
Regular Annual Costs To Boat Ownership
Boat Insurance
Storage Costs
Marina Fees
Boat Accessories

Research Financing Options

Boat loans are really quite simple. Most boats are purchased with some sort of financing and most banks extend loans for boats.  There are three main ways to achieve financing: 

  • Arranging financing through your boat dealer – This is usually the best bet. Boat dealers set up boat loans every day, so you’ll be working with someone who knows the ropes, has established relationships with lenders, and also wants to make the entire transaction happen as quickly and seamlessly as possible. They can usually help with some recommendations for setting up insurance, too.
  • Get a loan from your bank – Some buyers who have a lot of equity in their home find it advantageous to take out a home equity loan or a second mortgage, either because they may get a lower interest rate or for tax purposes. Remember, however, that this will add some time and complexity to the transaction.
  • Take out a loan with a lender specializing in marine financing – Since financing a boat is a bit different than financing other things, there are some lenders who specialize in it. In fact, there’s even an organization, the , made up of lenders who are familiar with all the ins and outs of making boat loans.

Marine Survey

A survey is similar to an appraisal when you purchase a home. If the boat will be financed (and especially if the boat is used), most financial institutions will require a Marine Survey.  

  1. Many lenders won’t consider financing a used boat that hasn’t been surveyed.
  2. Many insurance companies won’t consider insuring a used boat that hasn’t been surveyed.
  3. Used boats are subject to many problems that are hidden from view and require a professional to spot.
  4. A marine survey is helpful in determining what repairs or upgrades may be necessary to get a boat into safe operating condition.
  5. Boat surveys help determine the actual value of a boat, since they can expose items in need of repair or replacement.

Make Sure the Boat You are Looking At Is A Certified Boat

NMMA Certification is a program designed to help boat manufacturers comply with industry safety and construction standards and federal regulations. In order to be NMMA Certified, boat manufacturers must certify each boat model they produce. In addition to boat certification, a dealer can also get a Marine Five Star Certification to ensure that buying and maintaining a boat are pleasant experiences.

Line up the Boat Registration, Insurance and Taxes.

Register your boat here:  



As the saying goes, “there’s no escaping death and the taxman,” so discuss the nuances of the above situations with an accountant or maritime attorney. There are many exceptions as well as frequent tax law changes so the issues are difficult to keep up with and the penalties can be high. Consult with a tax expert before settling on any course of action.

Boat Insurance

We here at The Sterling Insurance Group have lots of carriers to connect you with for all your boat insurance needs.  

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Are you ready to save time, aggravation, and money? The team at The Sterling Insurance Group is here and ready to make the process as painless as possible. We look forward to meeting you!