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Other Insurance | 3 min read

Stay Safe on the Water with These Boating Safety Tips

It’s officially summer! Time to soak up some sun and stay cool by going to your favorite water spot. If you own a boat, chances are you’re already a summertime enthusiast. There’s nothing quite like hitting the water on a quiet morning ahead of an all-day fishing trip, or seeing one of your kids stand up on water skis for the first time. Whether you’re an avid boater or a weekend wake warrior, it’s always a good idea to review some boating safety tips to keep you, your passengers, and your boat safe this summer.

Before Setting Out on the Water

Conduct a thorough check of your engine and instruments, especially if your boat has been sitting idle for a season. According to Travelers, “For in-board engines, open the hatch to look for fuel or fluid (oil, coolant, etc.) leakage or excess water in the bilge, or the lowest section inside of a boat. For outboard engines, check the fuel system for leaks or heavy gas odor. Excessive fuel vapors from either engine type can be a sign of a serious problem.”

Pay careful attention to any electrical connections, as exposure to water can sometimes corrode conductors. Make sure that your lights are functioning properly, and test any radio or communication devices prior to setting out. Remember to check fuel levels—there’s nothing worse than getting stuck in the middle of a lake and having to paddle back to shore!

Finally, check the local weather report to make sure that you don’t run into an unexpected storm. It’s also a good idea to share your expected itinerary with a friend or relative who is staying on dry land.

What to Take With You

Every time you get in a car, you know that you need your keys, driver’s license, insurance and registration, and a functioning seatbelt. Likewise, every time you take your boat out, remember to take your registration paperwork. You can keep this in a waterproof box to keep it dry, and remember to store it somewhere safe, so it doesn’t blow out while you’re on the water. You will also need a personal floatation device (PFD) for each passenger, a fire extinguisher with a valid expiration date, extra water and emergency provisions, and a first aid kit.

On the Water

Here are some tips from the National Safety Council on how to stay safe on the water while boating:

  • Wear a life jacket—life jackets are at the core of safe boating, whether using a motorized or non-motorized vessel. The U.S. Coast Guard reports 76% of boating deaths in 2017 were due to drowning, and 84% of the victims were not wearing a life jacket. Make sure that you have a PFD for each person on the boat.

  • Be familiar with the boating state laws

  • Respect your limits and keep within your limits to avoid injury

  • Don't drink and drive a boat; alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance, and coordination

  • Once on the water, stay alert and vigilant; in a split second, a situation can arise or the weather can turn

  • Stay clear of the propeller while in the water

Personal Watercraft (PWC) and Boat Insurance

If you want to hit the water this summer, you’ll want to make sure you take out an insurance policy to protect your boat, yourself, and your passengers. To fully protect you and your investment, your boat and PWC insurance policy should cover:

  • Damage to a dock or another PWC

  • Bodily injury or death for yourself or another party

  • Negligence of another driver

  • Towing coverage and physical damage to the hull, machinery, and equipment

Although you may not be required to have boat insurance unless you are financing the purchase, it's important to check with your individual state requirements to ensure you are following the law. Some states will require you to at least have liability coverage; likewise, many marinas will require some sort of coverage in order to dock your boat at their facilities. On average, you can expect to pay between $300 and $500 a year for insurance coverage for your boat.

We hope these recommendations help you when you’re out on the water or looking for an insurance carrier. Be sure to ask about available discounts, such as multi-policy, full-pay, and boat education discounts that could save you some money that you can put toward your next excursion!

Get a quote for your personal watercraft or boat today.

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Tyreo Harrison

As Executive Vice President, B2C Channel Development, Tyreo Harrison enables referral partners and financial institutions to offer personal, commercial and surplus lines insurance products to increase non-interest income, improve borrower retention and add value to their service offering. He maintains his General Lines Agent Licenses for Property and Casualty, Life, Accident, Health, and HMO. He is a graduate of the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Leadership Lab and in 2008 was named as one of the San Antonio Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” Rising Stars. Prior to joining SWBC in 2005, Tyreo played professional football for the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers.

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