Boats are more than just toys or tools: they offer a gateway to good times. They provide access to great fishing spots, afternoons spent towing tubes and wakeboards, or quiet days cruising some of the best waterways in the world.
Protecting your valuable asset will ensure the good times are extra special, says Christina Martin, Vice President of KRGinsure.
“With the right insurance coverage, you’ll have peace-of-mind, no matter what your boating fun looks like,” she explains.
An expert insurance broker can help you find the perfect coverage for all your needs, whether you spend your time fishing alone or carrying a group of friends.
In some cases, basic coverage can be enough, says Christina. In fact, a canoe or other non-motorized boat is usually covered under the personal property portion of your homeowners’ insurance policy.
However, boats that are motorized and used to carry passengers may require their own separate policy.
“A typical boatowners insurance policy is designed to protect your boat, motor, equipment and liability,” she says. “It provides similar coverage to the policy you typically have for your car.”
This coverage includes theft, loss or damage to the boat and attached equipment; bodily injury coverage; damage caused to someone else’s property by your boat; liability coverage for your passengers, which would include family and guests; and medical payment coverage for injuries to the occupants of the boat.
Basic boat insurance will also include physical damage coverage, insuring your boat, motor, boat trailer, boating equipment and other personal property against accidental loss or damages.
Most basic policies also include coverage for legal liability: if there are legal obligations imposed upon you due to an accident resulting from the ownership, maintenance, or use of your watercraft, including bodily injury, property damage and legal defence, you’ll be covered up to the limit of your policy.
The medical coverage pays medical expenses – again, up to the limits in the policy – in the event of a boating accident-related injury.
“While the basic coverage does provide insurance for most unforeseen situations, it doesn’t cover everything,” says Christina. “It’s often a good idea to explore the optional coverage to ensure you have the most comprehensive policy available.”
These optional coverage pieces include wreck removal, reasonable repairs, emergency service, and umbrella liability.
Reasonable repairs coverage applies to work needed to prevent a damaged boat from further damage, something that may affect larger boats that strike an object but can’t be repaired immediately, for example. Wreck removal would cover removing a damaged boat where it is required by law – if it sank and is blocking a waterway or channel, or is leaking fuel.
Emergency service pays for costs you incur resulting from a specific emergency service to your boat, motor or boat trailer.
Umbrella liability provides an additional layer of liability protection for your watercraft.
“Not everyone requires these additional coverage options, but it’s important to determine if you do,” says Christina. “Having the extra coverage can save you a lot of money and stress should any of these unfortunate situations arise.”
Christina says it’s also worth chatting with your broker when you’re contemplating any change of circumstances, such as buying a new boat.
Other cost-saving measures including taking an approved boating safety course or getting a multi-policy discount because of additional watercraft policies.
“Each of these items can help reduce the amount you spend on your boat insurance,” says Christina.
She also advises taking steps to reduce your risk, and enhance your boating safety and enjoyment.
To avoid a potential fire onboard, inspect fuel hoses and containers on a regular basis to prevent the escaping vapours from going into bilges.
Frequently check the wiring and all electronics and appliances for damage. As a safety precaution, keep fire extinguishers on and below deck and fit smoke detectors to the cabin.
When docking or moving your boat near the marina, keep the throttle just above idle speed. Have bumpers, mooring lines, and boat hooks ready before docking; and ensure all your passengers remain onboard until you have come to a complete stop.
“It’s also important to choose a quality marina to dock at,” says Christina. “Make sure the marina has standpipes, fire extinguishers, good lighting, surveillance cameras, and security measures in place.”
And of course, always wear your personal flotation device – and ensure all others on board do too – when on the water.
“We have plenty of other advice to give on boating safety,” says Christina. “Heeding that advice and making sure you have the right boat insurance policy will protect you and yours for years on the water.”
TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN