Restricting or eliminating access to insurance for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessels could alter the associated balance of costs and benefits in favor of reducing IUU fishing activity. We present a simplified conceptual economic model for IUU fishing that demonstrates how having marine insurance is financially beneficial, thereby encouraging IUU fishing. By analyzing available data on vessels and their affiliations to insurers, we also determined that some IUU vessels are covered by insurance. IUU fishing is not an issue that is currently being addressed by insurers, and an opportunity exists for developing strategies to confront this global problem within the marine insurance sector. We believe that restricted access can be achieved through modified policies and procedures, and recommend that – at a minimum – insurers consult officially verified IUU vessel lists to make certain that listed vessels are not granted insurance coverage.