There are thousands of recreational boating accidents per year. Contributing factors to these accidents include traveling too fast for water or weather conditions, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, failing to follow boating rules and regulations, carelessness and inexperience.
To prevent boating accidents, we offer these safety suggestions:
Care and protection of vessel
- Check weather forecasts before heading out.
- Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
- Check engine, fuel, electrical and steering systems, especially for exhaust-system leaks.
- Carry one or more fire extinguishers, matched to the size and type of boat. Keep them readily accessible and in condition for immediate use.
- Equip the vessel with required navigation lights and with a whistle, horn or bell.
- Consider additional safety devices, such as a paddle or oars, a first-aid kit, a supply of fresh water, a tool kit and spare parts, a flashlight, flares and a radio.
Care and protection of crew and guests
- Make sure that every person on board the boat wears a life-jacket.
- Know and obey marine traffic laws, the “Rules-of-the-Road.” Learn various distress signals.
- Keep an alert lookout for other watercraft, swimmers, floating debris and shallow waters.
- Pay attention to loading. Don’t overload; distribute the load evenly; don’t stand up or shift weight suddenly in a small boat; and don’t permit riding on the bow, seatbacks or gunwales.
- Don’t operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Skippers can obtain free advice and boating-safety courses from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Upon request, the auxiliary will conduct a Courtesy Marine Examination (CME) on your boat, checking electrical and safety equipment and fuel hoses. Boats meeting safety standards are awarded the CME decal “Seal of Safety.”
Most companies provide limited coverage for property damage for small boats such as canoes and small sail boats or small power boats with less than 25 mile per hour horse power under a homeowners or renters insurance policy. Coverage is usually about $1,000 or 10 percent of the home’s insured value and generally includes the boat, motor and trailer combined. Liability coverage is typically not includedbut it can be added as an endorsement to a homeowners policy. Check with your insurance representative to find out if your boat is covered and what the limits are.
Larger and faster boats such as yachts, and personal watercraft such as jet skis and wave runners require a separate boat insurance policy. The size, type and value of the craft and the water in which you use it factor into how much you will pay for insurance coverage.
For physical loss or damage, coverage includes the hull, machinery, fittings, furnishings and permanently attached equipment as part of either an actual cash value policy or on an agreed amount value basis. These policies also provide broader liability protection than a homeowners policy. But there are distinct differences between the two types of policies.
Actual Cash Value policies pay for replacement costs less depreciation at the time of the loss. In the event of a total loss, used boat pricing guides and other resources are used to determine the vessel’s approximate market value. Partial losses are settled by taking the total cost of the repair less a percentage for depreciation.
Agreed Amount Value basis policies mean that you and your insurer have agreed on the value of your vessel and in the event of a total loss you will be paid that amount. Agreed Amount Value policies also replace old items for new in the event of a partial loss, without any deduction for depreciation.
Physical damage exclusions might include normal wear and tear, damage from insects, mold, animals (such as sharks), zebra mussels, defective machinery or machinery damage.
Boat insurance also covers:
- Bodily injuryfor injuries caused to another person
- Property damagefor damage caused to someone else’s property
- Guest passenger liabilityfor any legal expenses incurred by someone using the boat with the owner’s permission
- Medical paymentsfor injuries to the boat owner and other passengers
Most companies offer liability limits that start at $15,000 and can be increased to $300,000. Typical policies include deductibles of $250 for property damage, $500 for theft and $1000 for medical payments. Higher limits may be available. Additional coverage can be purchased for trailers and other accessories. Boat owners may also consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy which will provide additional protection for their boat, home and car.
Boaters should also inquire about special equipment kept on the boat, such as fishing gear, to make sure it is covered and verify that towing coverage is included in the policy.
Boat owners should also inquire about discounts for the following:
- Diesel powered craft, which are less hazardous than gasoline powered boats as they are less likely to explode
- Coast Guard approved fire extinguishers
- Ship-to-shore radios
- Two years of claims-free experience
- Multi-policies with the same insurer, such as a car, home or umbrella policy
- Safety education courses, such as those offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons, or the American Red Cross.
Whether you have a luxury in-ground pool, or plan to blow up an inflatable kiddie pool, it is important to consider the safety implications.
There are an estimated 7.4 million swimming pools and five million hot tubs in residential or public use in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Furthermore, there are over 3,400 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States each year, with more than one out of five drowning victims being a child 14 years old or younger, according to the CDC. The I.I.I. suggests taking the following steps if you own or are considering purchasing a pool or spa:
Contact your town or municipality
Each town will have its own definition of what constitutes a “pool”, often based on its size and the depth of the water. If the pool you are planning to buy meets the definition, then you must comply with local safety standards and building codes. This may include installing a fence of a certain size, locks, decks and pool safety equipment.
Call your insurance agent or company representative
Let your insurance company know that you have a pool, since it will increase your liability risk. Pools are considered an “attractive nuisance” and it may be advisable to purchase additional liability insurance. Most homeowners policies include a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability protection. Pool owners, however, may want to consider increasing the amount to at least $300,000 or $500,000. You may also want to talk to your agent or company representative about purchasing an umbrella liability policy. For an additional premium of about $200 to $300 a year, you can get $1 million of liability protection over and above what you have on your home. If the pool itself is expensive, you should also have enough insurance protection to replace it in the event it is destroyed by a storm or other disaster. And, don’t forget to include the chairs, tables or other furniture around the pool deck.
If you have a pool, the I.I.I. recommends taking the following safety precautions:
- Install a four-sided barrier such as a fence with self closing gates to completely surround the pool. If the house forms the fourth side of the barrier, install alarms on doors leading to the pool area to prevent children from wandering into the pool or spa unsupervised. In addition to the fences or other barriers required by many towns, consider creating several “layers of protection” around the pool, in other words setting up as many barriers (door alarms, locks and safety covers) as possible to the pool area when not in use.
- Never leave small children unsupervisedeven for a few seconds. And never leave toys or floats in the pool when not in use as they may prove to be a deadly temptation for toddlers trying to reach them who might then fall into the pool.
- Keep children away from pool filters and other mechanical devices as the suction force may injure them or prevent them from surfacing. In case of an emergency, know how to shut off these devices and clearly post this information so others can do so too.
- Ask if pool users know how to swim. Learners should be accompanied by a good swimmer. If you have children, have them take swimming lessons as early as possible. And, do not allow anyone to swim alone.
- Check the pool area regularly for glass bottles, toys or other potential accident hazards. Also, keep CD players, radios and other electrical devices away from pools or nearby wet surfaces.
- Limit alcohol use around the pool, as drinking alcoholic beverages negatively impacts balance, coordination and judgmentand its effects are further heightened by sun exposure and heat. The CDC reports that alcohol use is involved in up to half of adolescent and adult deaths associated with water recreation.
- Clearly post emergency numbers on the phone, in the event of an accident. Keep a first aid kit, ring buoys and reaching poles near the pool. You may also want to consider learning basic water rescue skills, including first aid and CPR training. For additional information, contact the American Red Cross.
Courtesy of iii.org