Having boat insurance is incredibly important, whether your plan is to set off on weekend voyages or simply to sail around in a circle on the weekend. But even when you have insurance, you don't want to have to make a claim -- since that means you've gotten into an accident! Read on for a look at some of the most common boat insurance claims and how to avoid having to make each one.
1. Grounding Your Boat
Grounding your boat is accidentally running it onto land, either on the shore or when you accidentally head into waters that are too shallow. This is most likely to happen when boating along rivers after a dry season when the water level is lower than usual. You can cause a lot of damage to the underside of the boat. Since there is no other boater involved in such an accident, your own boat insurance company will have to pay for all of the damage — which could result in higher rates in the future.
To avoid grounding, make sure you only boat along marked channels — especially if the season has been dry. Consider installing a depth sounder in your boat. It will constantly measure the depth of the water beneath the boat and start going off if you're headed into water that's too shallow.
2. Medical Injuries
Boat insurance should cover your medical bills and the medical bills of all your passengers if they should sustain an injury on board your vessel. But of course, it is best to avoid injuries in the first place. Make sure everyone wears life preservers when on the boat. Do not let anyone sit on the edge of the boat while it is in motion — require that they stay in their seats. If you consume or serve alcohol on board the boat, make sure you do so in moderation. Sometimes, insurance companies won't cover injuries if the claimer was drinking when the accident happened. (Remember, as a boat driver, you cannot be drunk; you could be charged with boating under the influence.)
Another common claim is for boat damage caused by colliding with another boat. If the accident is determined to be your fault, your insurance company will have to pay for the damage to your boat and to the other boat. If the accident is the other boater's fault, their insurance company will have to pay for the damage to both boats.
While you cannot control other boaters, there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of collisions. Make sure you watch your speed when you are in busy waters. Leave more space than you think you need to, and consider taking a boating course to hone your navigation skills.
This is the one many people forget to think about. Your boat could be stolen when you are not near the docks, but the bigger concern is that someone may steal the items on your boat. To reduce the risk of theft, make sure you put anything valuable below deck when you leave the boat. If it's possible to remove something from the boat — like the navigation equipment — do so before you store the boat for the winter. Choose a storage facility with good cameras so that if someone does tamper with your boat, you have footage to prove it.
If you want to know more about common boat insurance claims and also what your insurance plan covers, talk to your boat insurance company. They may have safety handouts and tips they can send your way before boating season.