Editor’s note: This article was originally published on November 12, 2013 and was updated on September 28, 2015.
As with everything, there’s a right way and a wrong way to store boats and motorcycles for the winter. Chances are you’ve already put your toys away, but it isn’t too late to make sure they’re stored properly!
Boats: Go Pro or DIY Storage
The best, and most expensive, way to store a boat is to take it to a marina or a business that specializes in boat storage for the winter. They will take care of everything for you, but they’ll also give you a bill that will reflect their efforts. Before taking your boat to a separate location to be stored for the winter, check with your insurance broker to see if it’s still covered under home insurance or if you should take out additional insurance to make sure it’s covered if something happens to the facility.
Winterizing the motor is just as important as storing the boat correctly. Depending on the facility, they may do this for you, but make sure to check before you bring your boat in.
To store a boat yourself, make sure you have room on your property, and ideally store it under a tarp, in your garage, or under some other secondary structure that will protect it from snow buildup. While you can have it shrink wrapped at most marinas, if you are planning on doing it every summer you may want to invest in a shrink wrap gun so you can do it yourself.
These supplies are easily available online, and include instructional videos to help you through the process. Leaving the boat outside without shrink wrap is a recipe for disaster, since it will be more prone to mold and mildew which can harm the fabric and lead to expensive reupholstering jobs.
You’ll also want to talk to your insurance broker about how much coverage you have for your boat on your current policy, if any, to make sure you’ve got the right coverage in place. Your insurer may want to see the boat stored in a certain way to prevent damage in the winter, and your broker can get you this information.
Leaving the boat outside without shrink wrap is a recipe for disaster
Motorcycles: Tuck Your Baby Away Carefully
As with boats, you can pay a specialized facility to store your motorcycle for you in the winter. You’ll want to check the contract to see if you are covered for damages if anything happens to your bike while it’s stored, or if you need extra insurance for it. This is probably the most stress-free way of storing your bike, especially if you don’t have a heated garage or are concerned about the security of storing it in your garage.
Here is a detailed tutorial on how to prepare your bike for winter. You’ll want to read through the whole thing, but here’s a quick breakdown:
- Prepare your engine for winter storage by changing the oil
- Rustproof spark plugs
- Spray WD-40 into exhaust pipes to prevent water buildup
- Clean battery leads and attach a battery tender or trickle charger to battery
- Clean bike, wax paint surfaces, and apply chrome polish to chrome
- Change fluids
- Unload suspension
- Keep tires off of cold ground with wood blocks
If you choose to store your bike at a facility, they may perform some of these services for you and they may not. Figure out in advance what you need to do and what they’re responsible for so that you don’t get any nasty surprises when you pick up your bike in the spring.
You’ll also want to talk to your insurance broker about how much coverage you have for your boat on your current policy, if any, to make sure you’ve got the right coverage in place.
If you’ve already put your bike away for the winter and you haven’t followed some of these steps, it isn’t too late, but you do risk damage to your bike the longer you leave it.
Again, you’ll want to talk to your broker to see if your insurance calls for certain steps to winterize your bike for storage, and to make sure your policy is up to date for your bike.
If you’re looking for a better policy for either your motorcycle, your homeowner’s policy, or a separate rider for a high-value watercraft, get in touch with one of our insurance brokers.