Don’t Let Your Summer Boat Fun Be Pirated: Boat and PWC Safety

Several years ago growing up in the picturesque Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, my father and I got into the family car and drove out to the storage facility where we kept our boat over the winter. Picking up that old blue and white motorboat and getting it ready to go into the water was always the first real sign that summer was approaching and the long New York winters were finally over. Except when we got there, the boat was missing. Gone. Someone had hitched our trailer with our boat on it to their truck and taken off with it. My dad called the local sheriff's office and our family's insurance agent to report it.
Fortunately the story has a happy ending- within about an hour we received a very apologetic call from a local mechanic who was hired to pick up another boat at the facility and had accidentally taken ours and didn't realize it until he took the tarp off. (I guess sometimes it's tough to tell one mostly white boat with a blue tarp from another). All was well, but even if it had turned out to be stolen, our insurance agent had been very reassuring that we had coverage to replace the boat if necessary. We felt much better and enjoyed a great summer out on the water.
As the summer ramps up and the warm days turn to hot days many people will be spending a lot of time out on the water. Whether you're taking the boat out for a weekend or renting personal water crafts on a summer vacation, it's important to remember the risks of boating and other water sports. The following tips will help keep you safe on the water and be prepared in the event of an accident.
  • Understand your liability and risks. A homeowners policy is not designed to cover significant watercraft exposures and consumers should contact their Trusted Choice® independent agent to find out if coverage can be added or if they need a separate watercraft policy that fully covers damage to the boat, liability, and uninsured boaters.
  • Many people rent boats but even with a watercraft policy a rental boat may not be covered.
  • Never use a boat that is not equipped with fully operational safety equipment onboard. At a minimum, any boat should contain life preservers for all occupants, a well-stocked first aid kit, powerful flashlight, two-way VHF radio, fire extinguisher, flare kit, and a local area water chart. Large boats should also contain additional lines of varied size and an inflatable lifeboat.
  • Never exceed the passenger capacity recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Always keep all owners manuals onboard.