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Boat Insurance in Australia: A First-Time Boat Owner’s Guide

Before getting out in your new vessel, you might like to wrap your head around boat insurance, including how it can help cover you and others out on the water.

Boat insurance guide

If you’ve just bought your own boat, chances are a lot of exciting times lie ahead. But first, it could be a good idea to think about boat insurance, and how it could help keep both you and your new investment protected.  

While owning a boat should mean leisurely days on the water, unfortunately accidents do happen. In Queensland alone, there were 343 marine incidents reported to Maritime Safety Queensland in 2022, with 15 fatalities and 30 hospitalisations.1  

Below is our guide to boat insurance in Australia. Read on to learn whether it’s mandatory, what the different types of boat insurance are and how they might impact the cost of insurance, and what you may be covered for. 

Do I need boat insurance in Australia? 

While in most circumstances it’s not compulsory to have boat insurance in Australia, laws and regulations differ between states and territories, and many state and territory governments advise taking out some form of cover. We’ve laid out some of these government recommendations below. 

New South Wales 

It’s not compulsory to have boat insurance to register a vessel in New South Wales. However, the NSW Government recommends taking out third party insurance as part of comprehensive vessel insurance.2  


All boats and personal watercraft with an engine of 3kW or more must be registered to be on the water in Queensland;3 however, boat insurance isn’t mandatory unless a recreational ship is more than 15m in length.4  


All powered vessels in Victoria must be registered, and the operator of a registered vessel is required to hold a marine licence. Although boat registration in the state doesn’t include any insurance cover, the government recommends that boat owners and operators consider taking out some form of boat insurance.5 

Western Australia 

You must register any recreational vessel that is or can be propelled by mechanical power, including sailing vessels, to use it in Western Australian waters. All recreational vessels in navigable waters – including those on moorings, in pens or berthed at jetties – must be registered, regardless of how often they’re used.6 However, boat insurance isn’t mandatory in WA.  

South Australia 

Boats fitted with an engine must be registered to travel in South Australian waters, though boat insurance is voluntary. However, the SA Government strongly advises taking out some form of cover, particularly for liability against loss of life or serious injury.7 


In Tasmania, recreational watercraft and boats with a motor of 4hp or more must be registered,8 though insurance isn’t compulsory. 

Australian Capital Territory 

In the landlocked Australian Capital Territory, there’s no boat registration or licence scheme – but all boats must still be registered, and you still need a boat licence from another state or territory if you want to go boating on the ACT lakes.9 Boat insurance isn’t mandatory in the ACT. 

Northern Territory  

In the Northern Territory, you don’t need to hold a licence to operate a recreational boat and you don’t have to register a boat that you own. Nor is it mandatory to have boat insurance in the territory. However, you’re still required to follow minimum requirements for safety equipment, as well as marine rules and regulations.10 

What does boat insurance cover me for? 

Different types of boat insurance will typically have different features. While some might cover damage to your boat, others can cover you for damage your boat causes to someone else’s property. The cost of your cover will generally depend on the type of policy you choose, any optional extras and your personal circumstances. 

Some boat insurance policies might also include cover for your boat’s contents. One way to check what a specific boat insurance policy can cover is to read the product disclosure statement (PDS), while starting a boat insurance quote with a provider will give you an idea of the likely cost. 

Below is an overview of Youi boat insurance policies and what they can cover you for. 

Comprehensive boat insurance 

Comprehensive boat insurance is our highest level of cover for your watercraft or tender. Our Comprehensive boat, jet ski and watercraft insurance includes cover for fire,11 storms,12 floods,12 earthquakes,12 theft11 and damage to someone else’s property.12 Additionally, if someone (other than you, anyone acting with your consent, or anyone else who’s been given permission to use the watercraft) intentionally causes damage to your watercraft or tender, we can cover the cost to replace or repair it.12 

​Third Party Fire & Theft boat insurance 

At Youi, our Third Party Fire & Theft boat insurance includes cover for your watercraft or tender against fire11 and theft,11 plus damage to other people’s property and injury to other people.13 Here are some examples of inclusions under this level of cover: 

  • Cover against theft, and damage to the watercraft or tender caused by fire or attempted theft.11 
  • If your brand new watercraft is a total loss within the first two years, we’ll replace it and its tender or pay you the replacement cost.14 
  • If your watercraft or tender is damaged by fire or attempted theft, we’ll cover the cost of towing it to and storing it at the nearest suitable place for safekeeping.15 

Third Party Property Only boat insurance 

Third Party Property Only is our entry-level boat insurance cover. If your watercraft or tender causes damage to someone else’s property, it could help cover you for: 

  • Up to $10 million legal liability if your watercraft or tender causes injury or death, or damage to someone else’s property, with a maximum of $250,000 for claims arising from pollution caused by oil, fuel or waste as a result of an accident.13 
  • Up to $1,500 per person for counselling services for you and household members after an incident where a claim has been accepted.16 

Now that you hopefully have a better idea of what boat insurance is and what different types could cover you for, you may like to start a boat insurance quote with us, to see if Youi boat insurance might suit your needs. Or, if you’d like to chat to someone about your options, you can always contact us


1 Source: Qld Government – Marine Incidents in Queensland, 2022 
2 Source: NSW Government – How to register a vessel 
3 Source: Qld Government – Register a boat 
4 Source: Qld Government – Ship insurance 
5 Source: Vic Government – Marine licence and registration 
6 Source: WA Government – Register a vessel 
7 Source: SA Government – Owning a boat 
8 Source: Tas Government – Apply to register a boat 
9 Source: ACT Government – Boating on ACT lakes 
10 Source: NT Government – Safety guide for recreational boating 
11 Available with Comprehensive and Third Party Fire & Theft policies. For more details, see the PDS   
12 Available with Comprehensive policies. For more details, see the PDS 
13 Available with Comprehensive, Third Party Fire & Theft, and Third Party Property Only policies. Limits apply. For more details, see the PDS  
14 If your watercraft is a total loss from an insured event within 24 months of it being bought new and registered or documented in your name as the first owner, we’ll replace it with a new one of a make, model and specification as close as possible to the insured one or pay the equivalent replacement cost. If the replacement cost exceeds your insured value, the most we will pay is the insured value plus an additional 20%. Available with Comprehensive and Third Party Fire & Theft policies. Limits apply. For more details, see the PDS 
15 Available with Comprehensive and Third Party Fire & Theft policies. Limits apply. For more details, see the PDS 
16 Available with Comprehensive, Third Party Fire & Theft, and Third Party Property Only policies. For more details, see the PDS