What kind of insurance do you need for towing a boat?

A boat insurance policy is the best way to fully protect your boat. It will provide you with both liability coverage as well as protection for damage to the boat itself.

Boat insurance doesn't just apply when your boat is afloat. It also can provide coverage for the trailer you use for towing it, says Lynne McChristian, Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute.

"This is important protection to have because either the trailer or what you tow it with could have a breakdown," McChristian says.

She recommends talking to your insurance agent to find out exactly what your existing insurance covers - and what it doesn't. For example, your homeowners insurance policy will typically provide some coverage for boats, trailers and equipment such as motors, but the payout is limited to $1,500. There will also be limits on the type of boat that can be covered.

Some boat insurance policies include options like roadside assistance so that both your trailer and your vehicle are covered if you have a breakdown, run out of fuel, get a flat, or get stuck in the sand. There is coverage for on-water tows. There is even uninsured boater coverage.

Audrey Sylvan, vice president of product management for Farmers Insurance, says anyone towing a trailer should review their policy "to ensure they understand what types of coverages they have, before rolling out onto the highway."

How can you save on boat and trailer insurance?

The same kinds of factors that apply to your car insurance rates also affect the price of your boat coverage.

For example, if you haven't filed a claim, you'll pay less than someone who has. Your driving record also affects the rate you'll pay.

Insurance companies love customers who buy more than one policy, so look for a multi-policy discount if you purchase your boat insurance from the same company that provides your auto insurance or homeowners insurance coverage. You'll find the same kind of loyalty and early-payment discounts, too.

There are also discounts specific to boat insurance, such as a discount for taking a boating safety course. And, of course, shopping around will get you the best price.