Top 10 Boating Safety Tips

young man on a boat as part of a graphic for the ace recreational marine insurance offering

As the weather warms up, many of us head to lakes, rivers, or the ocean to fish, waterski, cruise, and relax onboard a boat, yacht or other personal watercraft. With nearly 12 million registered recreational boats in the U.S.*, it’s no wonder the waterways are a popular place to go. But, before you head out with friends and family, take note of a few important safety tips.

  1. Make sure everyone wears a life jacket.
    Victims drowned in approximately 80% of fatal boating accidents. Of those, 83% were not wearing a life jacket. Insist that your crew and guests all wear a life jacket that fits them well. This can help them stay afloat in rough waters, protect them against hypothermia, and in some cases, can keep their head above water.
  2. Use the right kind of life jackets for the situation.
    Boats 16 feet and longer must be equipped with one Type I, II, III, or V personal floatation device (PFD) plus one Type IV throwable device. Boats that are 16 feet or less must have one Type I, II, III or V PFD for each person aboard. All boats must be equipped with one Type I, II, III, or V personal floatation device for each person aboard.  Boats 16 feet and longer must also be equipped with a Type IV throwable device. All PFDs should be in good condition and have a Coast Guard Approval Number.

    1. Type I PFDs are often called off-shore life jackets. They provide the most buoyancy and are effective in all waters, especially open, rough, or remote waters where rescue may be delayed. They are designed to turn most unconscious wearers to a face-up position in the water.
    2. Type II PFDs are near-shore buoyancy vests. They are intended for calm, inland water or waters where there is a good chance of quick rescue.
    3. Type III PFDs are also called floatation aids. They are good for calm, inland water, similar to Type II.
    4. Type IV PFDs are designed to be thrown to a person in the water and grasped and held by the user until rescued.
    5. Type V PFDs are special use devices. They may be carried instead of other PFDs if used in accordance with the approved conditions designated on the label. They may be inflatable vests, deck suits, work vests, board sailing vests or hybrid PFDs.
  3. Never drink alcohol and go boating.
    Alcohol use is a leading contributor to fatal boating accidents, causing approximately 15% of the deaths each year. Stay sharp when you’re on the water by leaving the alcohol on dry land.
  4. Take a boating safety course.
    Only 13% of the boating deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally approved boating safety education certificate. You may even qualify for a reduced insurance rate if you complete a safety course. Contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron chapter or visit uscgboating.org for details.
  5. Put down the cell phone.
    One of the top five contributing factors to boating accidents is inattention. Just like distracted driving on our highways, talking, texting, and other use of cell phones while boating is a growing problem on the water. Don’t contribute to this problem. Keep your eyes on the water ahead and around you.

Read the full article and see the rest of the list.

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What To Look For With Fishing Boat Insurance

If you’re like most fishermen, you’ve probably invested a lot of money in your sport – especially in your boat.  When it comes to shopping for insurance for your fishing boat, there are some things you should know.  Looking into the details now can save you from headaches later on. The time to discover you don’t have coverage is not when you have a loss. To keep it from getting too complicated, let’s start with the basics.

What to Look for in Fishing Boat Insurance

Choose an Agent: You should begin by using an agent who specializes in marine insurance. An agent who speaks to you in terms you understand is also desirable.  If you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation in layman’s terms. Ask experienced boating friends for their insurance recommendations.

Actual Cash Value vs. Agreed Value: These are the two main choices for boat insurance and depreciation is what sets them apart. No two policies are the same.

An Agreed Value policy may cost more, but it pays more. It will cover the stated value of the policy in the event of a total loss. For example, a total loss on a $50,000 agreed value policy will pay you $50,000. It may be subject to a deductible.  More importantly, a partial loss on an agreed value policy replaces most items on a “new for old” basis, with little or no depreciation, depending on the carrier.  Hence, a claim for the theft of a three-year-old bottom machine would get you a new, comparable replacement.

Actual Cash Value (ACV) policies generally cost less, but only pay up to the actual cash value at the time the boat or property was lost or damaged. Depreciation is usually calculated on all losses. ACV policies are better suited to less expensive boats or when you are not as concerned about a total loss.

Other Coverage: Some policies extend coverage to include fishing gear that you carry on the boat such as rods and reels, electronics, trolling motors, tackle, etc. You might also participate in fishing tournaments from time to time. Make sure your policy provides the liability coverage required. Do you need hurricane haul-out assistance or fuel spill coverage? Are you planning a long trip away from home? What happens if someone else drives your boat and has an accident? A good agent will review all of your options so there will be no surprises.

Deductibles: There are several ways to reduce the cost of your boat insurance. The most common way is to select the highest deductible amount that you are comfortable with. In general, physical damage deductibles start at around 1% of the value of the boat and can sometimes be increased to as much as 5%.

Now that we’ve described some of the key elements, we hope that you are in a better position to ask the right questions when buying marine insurance. Please contact our marine advisors for more guidance or visit our website at marineins.com.

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