Fishing, waterskiing, tubing, or simply relaxing on a pontoon boat with friends are enjoyable ways of spending time on the water. Regardless of the activity you choose, it helps to have the proper protection to protect your watercraft, toys and passengers.
If you own a boat or personal watercraft, insurance can help with damage or an accident. And while Michigan doesn’t require insurance for either of these, a lender may require coverage to protect their investment. Eaton Insurance Services can help ensure you have the needed protection to enjoy your water time without thinking about the coverage you should probably have.
What Insurance Offers Protection?
Canoes and other un-motorized boats may be covered under the personal property portion of a homeowners insurance policy. However, faster boats may require a separate boatowner’s insurance policy, which can protect your boat, motor, equipment and passengers.
Similar to auto insurance, boat insurance can include:
· Liability—Two primary types of liability coverage are usually included:
o Personal liability—Offers protection for legal liability. Up to your policy’s limit, it can pay the legal obligations imposed upon you due to an accident resulting from your watercraft’s ownership, maintenance, or use, including bodily injury, property damage, and legal defense.
§ Medical payments may pay medical expenses up to the limits in the policy, including the insured’s boating-related medical expenses from an accident arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the boat.
o Property damage liability—Can provide coverage for damages you or a covered policy member cause to a third party or their property while operating your boat.
· Physical damage—This may cover your boat, motor, boat trailer, boat equipment (e.g., anchors, oars, fuel tanks, life jackets, dinghies, tools) and other personal property against theft, accidental loss or damages.
Personal watercraft coverage (PWC) is for motorized personal watercraft used for recreation, such as waterskiing, kneeboarding or tubing, and may also contain water sports liability coverage, including:
· Bodily injury to yourself, another rider, or a swimmer injured in your path
· Guest passenger liability
· Medical payments
· Property damage to items, such as docks, other PWCs or boats
What Other Safety Tips Offer Protection?
Keeping safety in mind before going out on the water is a must to help prevent accidents. These tips can help keep you safe:
· Prepare a safety kit. Your kit should always be kept on board. Items to include are life jackets, a fire extinguisher, flashlight, duct tape, a bucket, first aid supplies, a whistle, ropes and garbage bags.
· Check the weather before you go out. Wind gusts and choppy water can be indicative of an approaching storm. If you’re already on the water when bad weather hits, make sure you have an emergency plan to get help.
· Don’t overload your boat. Follow your boat’s capacity restriction. Overloading your boat can unbalance your watercraft, making it dangerous.
· Use common sense. Stay alert, operate at safe speeds and make sure your passengers stay without your boat’s railings.
· Anchor your boat properly. You may need to drop two anchors in a V-formation at the front of your boat to keep it from drifting. In addition, to keep the tide from lifting your anchor, try to drop your anchor in deeper water, such as 20-30 feet.
· Take a boating safety course. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that operators cause 70% of boating accidents. Before heading out on the water, know your boat’s rules and responsibilities. Numerous courses are available online depending on your boating needs, including specific classes for Michigan boaters.
· Get a boat safety check. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadrons offer free vessel safety checks. These are free, and there are no consequences if your boat doesn’t pass.
Regardless of how much you prepare, accidents can happen. Boat and PWC insurance and the safety background you need as a boat operator are essential for fun on the water. We can help you explore additional resources and the various types of insurance coverage to help give you needed protection on the water.
This blog is intended for informational and educational use only. It is not exhaustive and should not be construed as legal advice. Please contact your insurance professional for further information.