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Inland Marine Insurance for Auto Accessories

Written by W. Lane Startin. Posted in Research Last Updated: 03/22/2011

Why you need inland marine insurance for aftermarket auto accessories, what inland marine insurance is, how it works, and how it applies to personal and commercial situations.

Anyone can get inland marine insurance for their car, no riverboat needed.

You just got a killer new car stereo with all the accessories. You have the woofers and tweeters. Everything is top of the line. Now you can terrorize your neighborhood with all the latest block rockin’ beats. Congratulations.

The down side is now your vehicle is a magnet for car stereo thieves. Is that new system covered by your auto insurance?

Um, probably not.

Items that are not factory installed and bolted down are typically not covered by standard boilerplate auto insurance. At this point you need inland marine insurance for auto accessories – at least your aftermarket accessories.

What is Inland Marine Insurance?

“Inland marine” is an old term for a very contemporary concept. The term dates to the 19th Century, when it was common to transport goods by rivers and canals. The insurance was originally designed to protect those goods, differentiating it from goods transported across oceans. It all has a very distinct Mark Twain feel to it, doesn’t it?

Today inland marine simply refers to insurance for miscellaneous items, no raft or riverboat required. It can apply to insurance for such things as jewelry, rare coins and artwork. However, in the realm of auto insurance it usually applies to aftermarket accessories such as car stereo equipment, burglar alarms, radar detectors and other non-factory installed items.

How Inland Marine Insurance Works

Inland marine insurance is usually a stated value form of insurance, meaning that it’s based on a given value for a particular item. For example, to insure an aftermarket accessory such as a car stereo one would typically provide a value for the item, a year of manufacture and a serial number. The procedure would be repeated for each separate item. These items would then be placed on the auto insurance policy as endorsements, or amendments, which provides the coverage.

You don’t necessarily need to get top quality stuff to qualify for inland marine insurance. The key test is whether the item is factory installed or not. If it isn’t, inland marine is probably required, even if we’re just talking about a modest car stereo.

Remember, depreciation is typically not covered in any auto insurance policy, therefore as the equipment ages the actual coverage level drops. Also bear in mind any new items purchased must be placed on the policy as well; their inclusion is not automatic.

As with full coverage insurance, a deductible can be assigned to inland marine insurance, but many choose a zero deductible. Inland marine coverage in and of itself is often quite reasonable, even with a zero deductible.

Inland Marine for Fleet Vehicles

Inland marine insurance is at least as important for commercial or fleet vehicles (see: fleet insurance) than it is for personal vehicles, if not more. In commercial settings inland marine insurance is used for tools and equipment and is therefore of vital importance for general contractors and others in construction-related industries. It can also be used for larger aftermarket commercial items such as generators and winches.

The application and coverage process is much the same for commercial inland marine as it is for personal inland marine. Exact requirements may vary from company to company, but for the most part stated value, serial number and date of manufacture are required.

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W. Lane Startin

Lane is a former insurance agent with two well-known and highly rated companies. He left the world of insurance sales to return to his first love, writing. He enjoys helping people unravel the intricacies of insurance without the bias created by working for commission. He's a graduate of Idaho State University and by extension a long-suffering Bengals fan. Lane blogs at Car Insurance Guidebook.

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