As spring and summer approach, it is essential to prepare your boat prior to taking it out on the water. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), there are 17,000,000 recreational boats in the United States – 13,000,000 registered plus 4,000,000 unregistered. One in ten households owns a boat - that puts a lot of people and their watercraft on the water on any given summer day.
Accidents can happen any time and often occur when we least expect them, including when we are on the water. The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary’s 2015 report counted 4,158 accidents that involved 626 deaths, 2,613 injuries and approximately $42,000,000 in damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. Accidents are not limited to larger boats or yachts - eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.
What causes most boating accidents and fatalities?
- Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure, and excessive speed ranked as the top five primary contributing factors
- Not wearing a lifejacket of PFD (personal flotation device)
- Falling overboard
- Capsizing, swamping, sinking, or running aground
- Being involved in a collision
- Operating a pleasure craft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
What does boat insurance cover?
- Collision damage: Includes repair or replacement of your boat. This may or may not include clean-up of wreckage unless you purchase optional additional coverage.
- Property damage liability: Covers damage you might cause to someone else’s boat, a dock, or other property or structures.
- Bodily injury liability: Covers injury you might cause to someone else in the course of operating your boat; includes medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and legal expenses.
- Comprehensive: Provides compensation if your boat is vandalized, stolen, or damaged in an incident other than a collision.
Additional coverage options include medical payments, fishing equipment, oil spills (environmental), personal property and roadside assistance, as well as damages and injuries from accidents caused by boaters who are uninsured or underinsured.
Here are six key factors to consider when purchasing boat insurance:
- The navigation territory. Take into consideration where you will operate your boat. Some carriers restrict certain routes all the time, or during certain seasons (i.e. hurricanes)
- Boat operators. Driving records are important. Records for both boating and driving are considered when determining the costs of a policy. If you have not been careful while driving your car, the insurance company assumes you will operate the boat in a similar manner.
- Where is the boat stored when not in use? There may be more risk for a boat that stays in the water all the time, than one trailered, covered, and/or protected when not in use.
- Value of the boat, motor, trailer. If you want all covered for physical damage, each of these must be listed on the policy.
- What liability limits are appropriate? Like your auto or homeowner coverage, having adequate liability limits can protect you if you are at-fault in some way on the water. If you carry a personal umbrella policy, that carrier may require certain minimum limits on your boat policy.
- Is there a layup period for your boat? If you live in colder climates, there may be several months of the year in which the boat is not operated at all. Some carriers will apply premium credits for this but may also limit coverage during that time.
Owning a boat can be exciting and rewarding, but it is necessary to ensure you have the proper boat insurance coverage to protect yourself, your passengers and your watercraft. AssuredPartners personal insurance agents can assist you in in finding your boat and personal insurance solutions to meet your needs. To learn more, visit AssuredPartners Personal Insurance.
Sources: Trustedchoice.com, Boat Canada