Water Week: Boating Safety & Boat Insurance

As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, the official start of the summer season, we have two recreational reminders: It’s National Safe Boating Week and Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week. Today, we’ll focus on boating.

The U.S. Coast Guard compiles annual statistics on reported recreational boating accidents. These stats are a compilation of data from the 50 states from reports filed by boat owners. Here are a few boating statistics from 2013:

  • 4,062 boat accidents
  • 560 boat-related deaths
  • 2,620 boat-related injuries
  • $39 million in property damage
  • 4.7 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels
  • 10% fewer deaths and nearly 13% fewer injuries than 2012
  • 77% of the deaths were drownings
  • 84% of drownings involved victims who were not wearing life jackets
  • 8 out of every 10 boaters who drowned were in vessels less than 21 feet in length
  • Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents

What you need to know about boat insurance

Your Homeowners policy might cover small boats such as a small motorboat, canoe, a rowboat, a small sailboat or a kayak – but be aware that coverage may be limited so check with your agent to find out what’s covered and what’s not. For example, liability coverage is typically not included so you would likely need an endorsement.

Bigger, more expensive boats would require a separate policy. The Insurance Information Institute offers a good overview of Boat Insurance along with some safety tips; Bankrate offers 6 things to know about boat insurance

If you are buying a boat for the first time, it’s definitely worth getting the help of an independent agent because there are a lot of coverage variables and considerations that will affect the cost of the coverage and the level of protection. Plus, be sure to look into safe operating courses – it’s a smart idea to help prevent you & your passengers from becoming a statistic. Plus, you may earn a discount on your coverage. The US Coast Guard offers a list Boating Safety Courses as well as many other handy tools and resources at their Boating Safety Resource Center.