Personal watercrafts (PWC) are regulated by the same laws that apply to the operation of motorboats of the same size, which is why it’s a good idea to protect yourself financially with proper watercraft insurance.

What is a Personal Watercraft?

Most states define a “personal watercraft” as: “a vessel 13 feet in length or less, propelled by machinery, that is designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing, or kneeling on the vessel rather than inside the vessel.”

What is PWC insurance?

PWC insurance helps insure you and your personal watercraft against accidents, vandalism, and liability. That means you can enjoy your time in the water knowing that you’re covered against unforeseen events.


Do I really need personal watercraft insurance?

PWC insurance isn’t legally required, but personal watercraft represent an important investment; in addition to exposing you to potential situations where you can be held personally liable for damages or injuries caused by an accident. It just makes sense to protect your property and those riding it.

Water jet-pump-driven boats that are generally less than 13 feet in length include Jet skis, Sea Doos, and Waverunners. PWCs come in four specific model types: stand-up, sit-down, multi-person and submersible. Any person being towed by a PWC is considered an occupant of the PWC, and is required to wear a life jacket.

What does PWC insurance cover?

A personal watercraft insurance policy typically insures you against many common liability losses regardless of whether you operate it yourself or loan it to another person.

In situations like these, you may be covered for:

  • Damage to another craft or dock
  • Bodily injury or death to another person due to your negligence
  • The negligence of another driver while using your PWC
  • Towed water skiers or wake boarders who become injured using your craft
  • Physical damage to the hull, machinery, and equipment
  • Injury to you caused by an uninsured watercraft operator
  • Towing assistance if you break down on the water

Additional watercraft insurance options include:

  • Open ocean coverage
  • Winter storage coverage
  • Fresh water boat coverage
  • Insurance for your boat and accessories

What is excluded from a PWC policy?

Because boat insurance needs vary depending on the type of personal watercraft you own, read the details in your policy to see what is covered and what is specifically excluded.

Typical examples of what’s not covered are:

  • Any craft that has been modified to enhance speed and performance
  • Operation of a PWC after dark—dusk to dawn
  • Operating a PWC when you don’t have a valid driver’s license

Operation of Your Personal Watercraft

Violation of basic PWC laws may affect your liability in case of an accident. Make sure you understand them.

South Carolina Laws Pertaining to PWC Operation

South Carolina law requires a person under 16 years of age to pass a boating safety course approved by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources or be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who is not under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs in order to operate a vessel powered by 15 horsepower or more. It is unlawful for a person to cause or allow a child over whom they have permanent or temporary responsibility to operate a boat or PWC illegally.

  • Persons 16 years of age or older may operate any boat or PWC without restrictions.
  • Each person on a personal watercraft must wear a US Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, III or V PFD.
  • A personal watercraft may not be operated between sunset and sunrise and must be equipped with a self-circling or lanyard-type engine cutoff switch.
  • Persons younger than 16 years of age may operate:
    • A boat or PWC powered by less than 15 horsepower without restrictions.
    • A boat or PWC powered by 15 horsepower or more only if:
      • They are accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who is not under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs or…
      • They have passed a boating safety course approved by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Will my home insurance cover my personal watercraft?

You may be able to add your PWC to your home insurance policy, but your coverage will be limited. Home insurance only provides basic liability coverage for PWCs.

Check for discounts offered by some insurance carriers; you may get a reduced price on your PWC insurance by:

  • Completing an approved safety course
  • Having multiple insurance policies with the same company you have for your home or car insurance

To get personalized information about boat insurance cost, jet ski insurance or even yacht insurance, contact our team of local insurance experts – they’ll help you find the right personal watercraft policy that meets your needs. You can count on Driver’s Choice to find the best rates and coverage to insure your personal watercraft.

Call Driver’s Choice today at 877-772-4642 to get a free boat insurance quote.