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Common boat insurance claims and how to avoid them.

Boating is all about a fun day on the water, but it’s not always smooth sailing. In 2020, the US Coast Guard reported 5,265 boating accidents, which was significantly more than the year before. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to prevent risks, accidents and claims.

Before you cruise, review the seven most common boat insurance claims and ways to avoid them:

Claim #1: Hit underwater objects
Debris and rocks can be hidden below the surface of the water, so one of the best ways to avoid them is to stay in the marked channels while boating. Pay close attention to the water depth as grounding in shallow water can cause significant damage to your boat. Sonar can also reduce the risk of hitting an object underwater. If you own one, pay close attention to the device, especially when in uncharted waters. Look out for buoys or markers that may indicate potential hazards to your boat. And as always, drive slowly, responsibly and carefully.

Claim #2: Weather Damage
Severe weather can cause damage to your boat at the dock or on the water. Check the weather reports before heading out to ensure you have a safe time. If the weather worsens while you are out, put on life jackets, return to shore immediately and secure your boat. Take extra precautions at the dock during rough weather to avoid damage, such as putting fenders on your boat, removing items that could become debris, and checking that your boat is watertight. When winterizing your boat for the season, have the port double check your vessel and inspect it for any bellows issues.

Claim #3: Harm
Put safety first to avoid injury to passengers, drivers and other vessels. As a boater, it is your responsibility to complete the necessary training for your condition and learn navigation, communication and life-saving measures before hitting the water. Another way to be sure? Avoid drinking alcohol, especially if you are the operator. The combination of alcohol and boating is one of the main causes of accidents on the water. Finally, make sure there are always enough life jackets available for everyone on your boat. Have fun and maintain a safe atmosphere to reduce the risk of injury.

Claim #4: Collisions
Know and apply rules from your boating safety course every time you are on the water. Monitor your speed to avoid creating wakes, and pay particular attention to nearby boats when docking or leaving the docking area. Let the passengers act as extra eyes and pay attention to what is happening around you. Designate a person as your second in command to watch for boats or objects to prevent collisions.

Claim #5: Theft
Theft from small possessions to the boat itself is a top marine insurance claim. If your boat is being moved or stored out of water, take the extra precaution of removing the engine, placing a lock on the trailer, and removing any personal belongings that can easily be taken. Once docked, remove navigation equipment from plain view and secure any valuables left on board. The main goal is to make it more difficult for thieves to succeed and discourage the behavior.

Statement #6: Declining
Sinking puts boats permanently out of commission. This means that one of the most important maintenance on a boat is to check that it is watertight. Check that the fittings, such as hoses and clamps, are doing their job and keeping the water out.

Claim #7: Fire

7;s not always the biggest fear on the water, but fire can cause serious, irreversible damage to a boat. Many boat fires start with faulty wiring or fuel problems that can trigger an explosion. Look for rust on sockets or chafing of wires to ensure you are not at risk. It is especially important to pay attention if you ever smell gas. If you do, get off the boat immediately and have it checked. As a last precaution against fire, carry a fire extinguisher with you on board.

Knowing the common boat insurance requirements and following the tips to avoid them is the best way to protect your investment and your passengers. The second critical step? Get the right jet ski coverage. Talk to a local, independent agent today.


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