How to Find Out Before You Rent a Boat

It’s hard to argue against the fun and memories that can be made from a summer spent on the lake. But the cost and hassle that comes with purchasing and maintaining a boat can sometimes get in the way. Renting a boat has obvious advantages over owning one. For instance, renters can enjoy boating without the large monetary investments required for purchase, monthly docking fees and costly maintenance and repairs.

Here are 5 things to find out before you rent a boat:


  1. Is the rental company insured? Carefully review the rental agreement to find out what you will be financially responsible for should an accident or damage to the boat occur. For example, some boat rental companies place responsibility for damage to the boat and injury to anyone on board in the hands of the renter, while the rental company is liable for normal wear and tear and mechanical issues like a blown motor. Read and understand the rental company’s insurance limits. This may require a review by your attorney or your personal insurance agent. You may find that your own vehicle coverage may extend to car or boat rentals.
  2. What size boat do you need? Depending on the body of water you’ve selected for your boating excursion, you may be limited to a certain size of boat. Conversely, if you’ve selected a larger body of water, you may want to rent a larger boat. It is also wise to consider the number of people who will be traveling on the boat. Select a boat that can accommodate your guests.
  3. What’s included in the rental agreement? Since rental agreements vary from one company to the next, it is important to read through your agreement closely and understand your responsibilities and restrictions. The agreement will outline specifications for cancelling the boat rental should bad weather occur, any limitations on towing tubes or skiers, and which damages are covered by the rental company versus the renter. Another item to consider: what is the amount of the deposit and what is required in order to get the full amount of the deposit back?
  4. What safety features does the boat come with? An emergency situation on the water is not the time to find out about your rental’s safety features. Before renting a boat, take the time to learn if the vehicle comes equipped with items that will come in handy during an emergency. Does the boat have a handheld radio, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, life jackets, and up-to-date lake charts and maps? If not, you will want to organize these items yourself and store them on the boat.
  5. Is boating education available? If you’re new to boating, look into educational resources. For instance, docking the boat can be one of the hardest tasks, especially if the weather becomes less than optimal. Reviewing tip sheets or practicing docking procedures might be helpful for beginners.