Jet ski insurance explained

AMANDA HORSWILL
Digital Editor · 4 November 2021
We know that Aussies love spending time on the water and many of us are fond of getting out and exploring, or pumping some adrenaline, on jet skis or personal water crafts. But what about insuring your jet ski? We take a look.

What is jet ski insurance?

Jet ski insurance is also known as PWC insurance (personal watercraft insurance), which is a type of boat insurance or marine insurance. Depending on the level of insurance you take out, a review by Canstar of a number of jet ski insurance policies reveals this kind of insurance may provide cover if your jet ski is damaged, destroyed, or stolen, and protect you against liability claims if your jet ski causes damage to other people or their property.

It’s important to note that if your jet ski causes damage to other people or their property while attached to a trailer, it is typically excluded from jet ski insurance because the trailer is being towed by another vehicle. Some insurance providers may cover the damage caused to your jet ski in such an accident, but otherwise this is a matter for your car insurance – and you may be covered if you have a sufficient level of comprehensive car insurance cover, depending on your policy.

What types of jet ski insurance are available?

When it comes to jet ski insurance, the exact levels of cover that you can purchase will vary depending on the provider, but some of the most common types of marine insurance in Australia are:

  1. Third party property and liability: Covers damage to someone else or their property caused by your jet ski.
  2. Third party fire and theft: This covers damage to someone else or their property caused by your jet ski, and additional covers your jet ski from fire damage and theft.
  3. Comprehensive: Covers damage to someone else or their property caused by your jet ski, or damage to your jet ski caused by events such as fire, theft, accidents and, in some cases, natural disasters and vandalism.

What does comprehensive jet ski insurance cover?

Comprehensive jet ski insurance may provide cover for the following:

  • accidental damage to your jet ski caused by fire, storm, flood, vandalism, or an accident
  • theft or attempted theft of your jet ski
  • accidental damage to your jet ski caused by a collision with an uninsured boat, jet ski, aqua scooter or other PWC (where the party at fault does not have insurance)
  • injury to you or your passengers caused by an accident with an uninsured boat, jet ski, aqua scooter or other PWC (includes medical payments)
  • third party damage to other vessels (caused by your jet ski)

What extras may be available with jet ski insurance?

Specialised cover is available from some insurance providers, who may allow you to add optional extras to your jet ski insurance policy such as:

  • contents insurance for personal belongings stored in your jet ski (accessory insurance)
  • total loss replacement – if your jet ski is damaged, it can replaced with a new one of similar quality
  • emergency towing if you need it
  • 24/7 assistance for jet ski trailer and jet ski towing
  • wreckage removal costs after a collision or other accident
  • lay-up cover, with your insurance premium reduced if the jet ski is put into storage and left unused for a certain period of time. Note that your level of cover may also be reduced during this period.
  • environmental damage repair after a collision or other accident (e.g. oil leak mop up)
  • cover for your jet ski trailer

Bear in mind that adding one or more optional extras to a policy may increase the premiums you pay in some cases. Also note that not every insurance provider will necessarily offer the same set of optional extras, so check with them first, and read the product disclosure statement (PDS) and target market determination (TMD) to confirm what can be added to any particular policy and any terms or conditions that may apply.

What exclusions can apply to jet ski insurance?

Jet ski insurance can only cover you to ride within the allowable geographic areas shown on your certificate of insurance. Each state and territory has heritage areas or other protected areas in which you cannot ride your jet ski, or where restrictions apply to how you can operate it.  Contact your insurance provider or visit your local marine department’s website for more information:

It is also important to note that jet skis may have to be registered as a PWC with your local department of transport.

Some insurance policies that cover theft of your jet ski may require that you store your jet ski securely (which could mean, for example, in a locked garage, shed, or boat shed, rather than moored at a marina). Most policies also state that cover could be voided if the person operating the jet ski at the time of an incident has not obeyed local laws. For example, most states and territories require anyone who drives a PWC to have a valid boat licence and be over a minimum age. Depending on your state or territory, you may also need a specialised licence to drive a jet ski (a personal watercraft licence) or a PWC endorsement to your current marine driver licence. If you or the driver does not have the right licence, you might not be covered.

Separately to jet ski insurance, you may be interested in comprehensive car insurance if you are seeking a car insurance policy that may offer coverage while you are towing a jet ski in a trailer. Keep in mind not all comprehensive car insurance policies may cover a trailer, and terms and conditions can apply. It is a good idea to read the PDS and TMD for relevant insurance policies before making a decision.

What safety equipment is needed for a jet ski?

All passengers and drivers of the jet ski must wear a personal flotation device (i.e. a lifejacket). The other safety equipment that you are required to wear or keep on board your jet ski depends on whether you are riding in smooth waters (e.g. lakes or dams), partially smooth waters (e.g. rivers and creeks), or beyond partially smooth waters (e.g. the surf).

Is jet ski insurance mandatory or optional?

At the time of writing, jet ski insurance is optional throughout most of Australia, if you only want to use your jet ski for personal leisure. Check with your state or territory authority (links are  above) for details. However, it could be a wise move to consider taking out a liability insurance policy to cover your legal responsibility if your jet ski causes injury to another person or damages their property.

If you buy your jet ski using a personal loan or other financing, your lender may require you to buy comprehensive jet ski insurance. Check the lender’s terms and conditions.

What does jet ski insurance cost?

The cost of jet ski insurance varies between providers and according to your individual circumstances. Your premiums will depend on whether you choose basic or comprehensive coverage and the market value of your jet ski (or how much you want to be covered for). The cost may also depend on factors such as:

  • year, make and model of your jet ski
  • horsepower, engine type and maximum operating speed
  • how you use your jet ski (private, commercial, racing or a combination of these)
  • any modifications to your jet ski
  • where you store it (in a shed, covered boathouse, or moored)
  • boater safety courses you have completed
  • whether your jet ski is equipped with security features
  • your driving record – good or bad – in both a car and on a boat
  • the amount of excess you are required to pay

How to compare jet ski insurance

Apart from the cost, factors to consider when comparing jet insurance policies include the coverage level you’d like, whether you want to insure your jet ski for agreed value or market value, exclusions that may apply and what excess you’d like to pay for the policy.

Coverage level

Finding the right policy for your needs will depend on the level of cover you are looking for. The level of coverage will differ between providers – so keep in mind not all comprehensive policies are the same. It is a good idea to talk to your insurer and read the policy’s PDS and TMD to work out whether it provides the right level of coverage for your needs.

Agreed value vs market value

Insurers will often offer to cover your jet ski at its current market value (which will decrease over time with depreciation). However, some insurers may also give you the option of insuring it at an agreed value (how much you and the insurer agree it is worth). Terms and conditions such as increased premiums may apply if you choose this option, so make sure to read the PDS and TMD or speak to your insurance provider for details.

Exclusions

It is a good idea to be aware of exclusions that apply to your policy, as well as what you are covered for. This way, you can ensure you’ll be covered for your usual watercraft activities. For example, if you are into jet ski racing, it is a good idea to look for a policy that specifically includes racing activities, as many policies may exclude racing from coverage that’s offered to policyholders.

Excesses

When you make a claim, you may also have to pay an excess. This is an amount that you are required to contribute towards the cost of repairs or replacements when you make a claim. Some providers will allow you to have a higher or lower excess included in your policy, but this may impact the cost of your premiums.

How can you buy jet ski insurance?

There are generally two ways to buy jet ski insurance:

  1. a stand-alone jet ski insurance policy
  2. adding your jet ski as a PWC to an existing boat insurance policy for an additional cost

There are a range of insurers that offer both types of insurance in Australia. It could be a wise idea to obtain a number of quotes and compare features, costs and coverage before making a decision. Be sure to read all the important documents carefully, including the PDS and TMD, and if you don’t find the answers you are looking for, ask the provider for more detail.

Additional reporting: Elise Donaldson

Cover image source: Image: VladyslaV Travel photo/Shutterstock.com 


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This content was reviewed by Sub Editor Jacqueline Belesky as part of our fact-checking process.


A journalist for more than two decades, Amanda has covered a gamut of subjects, including property, lifestyle, data journalism, local news and careers. Previously, she worked for a major metropolitan news media organisation, in senior editing and reporting roles.