When Does A Non-Powered Vehicle Need Insurance?

Generally speaking, if your vehicle doesn't have a motor, you're not legally required to carry insurance on it. This means bicycle, rowboat and even sailboat owners can choose not to carry insurance on their mode of transportation. Even trailers generally don't need to be insured, by law.

This even extends to broken down cars. If you have a car with a non-working engine and it's somehow involved in an accident, chances are it's going to be the other person's fault, and their insurance will cover the damages.

The question of need here is less about legal mandate than it is about common sense. Maybe you're not legally required to insure your sailboat, but after spending six figures on a beautiful cutter, you'd be crazy not to protect it with an insurance policy.

Deductible vs. Out-of-Pocket

When it comes to non-powered vehicles, the question is really about the deductible vs. your potential out-of-pocket costs.

Because there are fewer liability concerns with boats, bicycles and non-powered scooters, you're mainly covering your own end. This means that you need to think about whether it will be worth it to pay the deductible should something happen. If you ride a bicycle worth $2,500, then of course, a $175 deductible is a fair price to pay to replace that bike if it's totaled. On the other hand, paying that $175 deductible on a $225 bicycle, plus your premiums, that doesn't make a lot of sense.

The price range across bicycles can be dramatic, and the price range can be just as dramatic for boats, even before we get into the high-end market. There are inflatable rafts that you can buy at a toy store for $60, and professional-quality inflatable fishing boats that go for several thousand. Obviously, one is worth protecting more than the other.

Auto insurance is typically designed around covering losses that we cannot comfortably afford to cover on our own. Car insurance companies are used to paying out $50,000, $100,000 or half a million dollars at a time. The deductibles help to ensure that customers don't use claims on anything frivolous.

It's the same question we ask ourselves whenever insurance is not required by law: if something happens, can I afford to cover it? If the answer is no, then you need to consider buying an insurance policy.