Vessel Insurance

Am I required to have Insurance on my vessel in New Mexico in order to Register or Title my vessel?  

New Mexico is not a mandatory insurance state for vessels. However, accidents do happen both to your vessel and others. Operating without insurance can expose you to civil liability for any injury or damage. (See 66-12-17 NMSA 1978 - New Mexico State Statutes.)  This may occur even if the vessel is being operated or is under the control of a spouse, father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, or other immediate member of the owner's family. You are assumed to have given your express or implied consent to any of those members. Coverage types range the same as for an automobile with liability, collision, comprehensive etc. 

Alcohol, Guests and the Question of Liability.  Be aware that a vessel operator may be liable if drunken guests fall overboard.  Two recent cases assigned liability to the operator for other people aboard who had been drinking.  In one instance, the drunken man passed out on a boat's stern bench seat. Later that evening he woke up, fell overboard and drowned.  In another case, a vessel was returning from a shoreline bar when an inebriated guest went overboard unnoticed and perished.  In these type of events, courts have been awarding apportion liability with boat owners share ranging from 0% to 100% depending uon the degree of negligence. the dollar amount depended upon the victim's age and what he or she expected to earn had they lived and also awards for conscious pain and suffering and loss of companionship.  Awards can easily pass $300,000 the amount of an "average" boating policy for liability, especially if the one who died was young, in a high paying career field or had children. Insurance for damages of this type are typical in a standard boating liability policy but if significant assets are at risk it is also advised that an "umbrella" policy is purchased with your homeowner's policy.

Don't assume you are covered under your homeowner policy for your boat's damage or loss in the event of an accident either.  The limits on these policies are usually set fairly low, generally under $2,000.  That would not even cover a replacement motor these days.  Also the newer the boat the less costly the insurance. Generally if they are less than 5 years old there is a discount.

If the cost of insurance seems high for you consider taking either a State of New Mexico Boating Basics or USCG Auxiliary Safe Boating Course. Taking and successfully completing a formal course can be good for a discount on your insurance and most of the training can be free! There are many insurance companies out there. Many support boating safety and have helped our state and federal programs by printing literature and posters, providing vessel inspection decals, and sponsoring or providing videos on boat safety for the New Mexico public.



New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department ©
1220 South St. Francis Drive | Santa Fe, NM 87505
EMNRD Legal Disclaimer