boat insuranceThere’s no substitute for experience and education when it comes to boating safety. Having the knowledge and experience to know how to avoid or react to the most common causes of boating accidents can not only reduce damages but can prevent injuries or worse.

In 2012, the US Coast Guard reported 4,515 accidents that involved 651 deaths, 3,000 injuries and $38 million in damages as a result of recreational boating accidents. Almost 71% of the fatalities, drowning was the cause of death and of those, 85% were not wearing a life jacket.

Of these accidents, here are the top 10 causes…

#1- Operator Inattention

#2- Operator Inexperience

#3- Improper Lookout

#4- Machinery Failure

#5- Excessive Speed

#6- Rules of Road Infraction

#7- Alcohol Use

#8- Force of Wave or Wake

#9- Weather

#10- Hazardous Waters

The top four types of boating accidents include…

#1- Collision with recreational vessels (1010 accidents)

#2- Flooding/swamping (509 accidents)

#3- Collision with fixed objects (475 accidents)

#4- Grounding (422 accidents)

The majority of damage is done immediately when collision and flooding accidents occur. After a grounding, most damage occurs as a result to how the operator reacts. More than a few boaters have pushed off or towed off a grounding to have the boat sink as a result of damage to running gear, through-hull fittings or transducers.

If you find yourself aground, check the bilge from bow to stern for any possible breach of the hull before moving. You should also shut down the engines immediately and check cooling water intakes for possible blockages. You don’t want to compound the problem by overheating an engine.

If there is no blockage, be sure to monitor temperature gauges. Sand and silt can slowly wear down a water pump impeller.

What to do if you damage your boat and need to file a boat insurance claim

The very first step to take is to take precautionary measures to reduce further damage and prevent injury. Instruct passengers to put on their life vests. If bilge pumps are not operational and there is a possibility of taking on water, get the boat out of the water if possible. Cover everything exposed that can be damaged by weather.

Take pictures of the damage and call your boat insurance agent as soon as possible. Make a thorough list of the damage so you will be prepared to discuss with your boat insurance adjuster. They will instruct you on the steps to be completed to get your claim settled.

Many boat owners are surprised to find that their boat insurance policy only covers part of the total cost of the damages. This is due to buying an inferior boat insurance policy from an insurance company that doesn’t specialize in boat insurance.

Unfortunately, boat insurance policies are not standard policies and coverage varies from one boat insurance company to another. Exclusions, endorsements and settlement types reduce and eliminate coverage. So, before you have a claim, check your policy to make sure it will fully cover you if you need it. Better yet, give us a call and we’ll be glad to review your boat insurance policy for you.

Safe boating to you!