How does Renting boats work?

Curious about those who rent boats with their lake homes. We have a lot of requests for referrals to boat rental places or queries about whether we offer a boat. We have been considering getting a pontoon to rent with the cabin. How has that worked for those of you who do? I worry about liability, damage to the boat or docks, or inexperienced or inebriated guests running over swimmers or paddle boarders or kayakers, for example. How do you handle the fees for renting a boat? Through the site? Or is it separate, cash or check?
Thanks- we are new to hosting!


I say this as a former boater. I used to live on a 36’ Trojan Sportfisher.

I’m not trying to rain on your parade. If I were to buy a boat, I would consider this for helping pay for it
BUT People are idiots when it comes to boats, water & alcohol. Don’t trust anyone who tells you they know how to drive a boat and they won’t drink while cruising.

I can’t tell you when but someone will get hurt. Or if you are lucky, they will only run your boat aground on rocks thus tearing out the bottom of a pontoon.

Stone cold sober, I slipped & fell between the boat & dock. Scary. Painful. I hit the dock with my back & thighs with the edge of the swim platform.

Locally pontoon rentals come with a captain & limit of 6 people, $400/halfday plus tax & gas. Depending upon boat horsepower & if weekend afternoon cost $599 pls gas & tax.

Find a local boat & jet ski rental place & get your guests a discount.

Now that I’ve sounded like your mother wagging my finger & preaching, you are an adult. My words are out of protective concern.

It’s your boat. If you are ok with the risk, talk to a local boat rental for pricing & who their insurance is with.


Skip the boat and buy two kayaks, have guests sign waivers. I think a boat is a big expensive and I’m sure guests will somehow break it.

I have two kayaks that guests utilize and they always manage to break the buckles, straps or lose paddles. It gets to be a bit expensive having to buy buckles, straps and paddles but it’s a lot cheaper than costly boat repairs.

I’ve been considering buying a canoe, that might also be a good idea for your lake property.

You’re right to worry. We wanted to add simple amenities like bikes and paddleboards but our attorney strongly advised against it. The liability situation is horrendous when you think about it.

Now, if guests want to rent a bike, paddleboard, kayak etc. I direct them to a licensed and insured local business.


Much better idea to turn them on to local boat rentals, which already are insured for that. Approach one or some, establish a relationship with them, let them know you can send a lot of business their way, ask for some brochures to put in your rental, and see if they’d be willing to provide some discount coupons for your guests.

Guests will be appreciative, local business will, and you don’t carry the risk.


if you do it, should be entirely separate LLC company, with ID collection, security collection, iron clad contract and appropriate insurance.
I would never tie such a thing to a stay. Too much liability.

1 Like

Renting boats doesn’t work. Just ask your insurance agent about how much the liability coverage would cost, and how much it would cover. Boats, bikes, motorcycles, 4 wheelers… all encourage reckless behavior when folks are on vacation, especially from younger folks who think they are immortal and the middle aged “hold my beer” types.

Think about whether you want to risk your entire net worth, plus your income for almost forever, on the boating or bicycling behavior of one of your guests. I don’t, and I’ll bet that you won’t either.


I rent a home with family every year. It offers kayaks. My brother-in-law had a fall helping get them in the water last year. Fortunately he was just sore and nothing was broken. I capsized the kayak and fell in twice last week. Neither of us was drinking, lol. Leave the boats to people with insurance!. If you go ahead waivers might offer some protection but it won’t help with the beat up boat and dock.

1 Like

Thank you. It is so confusing for we newbies, lol. We are waaaayyy up north in Wisconsin. A good proportion of comparable properties offer boats, about half of those include them free. We have heard nothing but horror stories! Unfortunately, around here there are really no boat or jet ski rental companies, just a few people who sort of do it off the record. The closest companies are 45 minutes to two hours away. Talking to locals who have boats with their properties, they believe the million dollar coverage through airbnb will cover anything that happens, but a paralegal friend told me she thought not.
We let some repeat guests talk us in to letting them use our old bayliner for a few days. They grounded out somewhere and absolutely trashed the prop. A friend around the point said the kid was driving and hit the flats. The renter denied it was them, and now I have to replace the prop so I am not keen on renting boats- just that so many here seem to expect it, so I was wondering what the broader experiences wee. You have all been very helpful!

1 Like

Thanks, Muddy. We have no such companies around here, which might in itself be telling!!! lol.

1 Like

Thanks, Ritz3. We have a canoe, two kayaks, and a simple pedal boat. Think we will stick with that- and now im even reconsidering those!!!

1 Like

NO NO NO NO. Sorry for shouting :slight_smile: but those people are completely wrong. Very occasionally Airbnb will, anecdotally, pay out for damage but to rely on it is beyond crazy.

Even if the so-called Airbnb coverage did cover the rental apartments/houses there is no way it would cover boats, kayaks or pedal boats.

Please please do reconsider. As I said above, our attorney (our paid-for, professional attorney and not a paralegal friend) said that we should not even offer bikes.

I know that the temptation is huge for you to supply boats for your guests but I’m sure that you can imagine some nightmare scenarios. Our rentals are waterfront and about once a month I get requests from guests who want to bring their own boats. Our dock is not included in our STR coverage so we can’t allow it. I’m going to guess that your STR coverage wouldn’t include kayaks or boats too.

Please tell your hosting friends that trying to fly under the radar as far as proper insurance and the largely fictitious Airbnb coverage is concerned is asking for trouble. One accident and they could lose everything. A damaged boat is the very least of their worries. Just the liability issues alone should be enough to stop them sleeping at night.

1 Like

I wouldn’t let Airbnb collect payment for it. Besides Airbnb not being supportive of add-ons, things will get messy if there are problems with the rental. Would your insurance even allow you to rent out your boat? I find it highly unlikely they would cover any rental. Renting boats is not an impossible task because boat rental companies exist, but they have their own legal support.

The potential risk to you is very high and I would, as @Jefferson said, have a separate company with it’s own legal contract and insurance for the boat rental. This probably isn’t practical for one boat. Ideally, there’d be a company that you could use to rent your boat to specific people (like an Airbnb for boats). I know such a thing exists for RVs, but not sure about boats. Maybe talk with local boat rental companies, and see if they could handle transactions and insurance for a cut of the profit, but I honestly doubt they’ll be willing since they can buy used boats for peanuts.

I personally would do what @muddy said and just refer them to local boat rental places.

Yep. I don’t know how widespread they are these days though.
See here