Co-author: TJ Ryan
Not only do we seem to enjoy spending time on jet skis on the weekend, but based on Canstar data, some of the most popular specific inclusions that travellers want to be covered for in their travel insurance include riding a jet ski, motorbike or scooter and water sports.
But what about if you own a jet ski or personal water craft in Australia? Can you get insurance to cover it being stolen or damaged or to cover injuries to yourself when riding your jet ski? Read on to learn about some of your options.
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 insurers 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.
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, jet ski 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.
The exact levels of cover that you can purchase will vary depending on the insurer, but two of the most common types of marine insurance in Australia are:
- Liability Only: Covers damage to someone else or their property caused by your jet ski.
- 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.
Comprehensive jet ski insurance may provide cover for the following:
- Accidental damage to your jet ski caused by fire, storm, flood, vandalism, or other accident
- Theft or attempted theft of your jet ski
- Accidental damage to your jet ski caused by collision with uninsured boat, jet ski, or aqua scooter (where the party at fault does not have insurance)
- Injury to you or your passenger caused by an accident with an uninsured boat, jet ski, or aqua scooter (includes medical payments)
- Third party damage to other vessels (caused by your jet ski)
Specialised cover is available from some insurers, 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 (a.k.a. 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 – insurance premium is 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 insurer will necessarily offer the same set of optional extras, so check with you insurer and read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to confirm what can be added to any particular policy and any terms or conditions that may apply.
Exclusions that usually apply to jet ski insurance
Jet ski insurance can only cover you to ride within the allowable geographic areas show 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 insurer or see your local marine department’s website for more information:
Some policies that cover theft of your jet ski may require that you store your jet ski securely (e.g. in a locked garage, shed, or boat shed, rather than moored at a marina).
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. However, you may wish to consider at least a liability insurance policy to cover your legal responsibility if your jet ski causes injury to another person or damages their property. Most states also require you to have a valid marine driver licence or boat licence and be over the minimum age to drive a PWC.
It is also important to note that jet skis must be registered as a PWC with your local department of transport. Depending on state and 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.
The law in some states may allow you to operate a jet ski without a licence, so long as you are supervised by a licensed person, who must be onboard and able to take control of it at all times.
When towing a water-skier behind your jet ski, the jet ski driver must be licensed, and many states and territories also require that there be an appropriate observer on board the jet ski to watch out for the skier’s safety at all times.
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).
If you buy your jet ski using a personal loan or other financing, your lender may require you to buy comprehensive jet ski insurance.
What does jet ski insurance cost?
The cost of jet ski insurance varies between providers. 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 risk 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 a GPS microdot, a security alarm, or other security features
- Your driving record – good or bad – in both a car and on a boat
- Whether your jet ski is used in salt water (more wear and tear) or fresh water only (discounts may be available)
How to compare jet ski insurance
Apart from the cost, the main factors to consider when comparing jet insurance policies include:
As explained above, the right policy for you 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 to work out whether it provides the right level of coverage for your needs.
Agreed value vs market value
Most insurers will 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 or speak to your insurer for details.
Make sure you are aware of the exclusions of your policy to ensure you are covered for your usual activity. 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 exclude racing from coverage.
How to buy jet ski insurance
If you have boat insurance already, you can ask your insurer to add your jet ski to that policy as a PWC for an additional cost. Alternatively, you can choose to take out a separate jet ski insurance policy directly.