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3 Key Ways to Protect Yourself Against Boating Accidents

3 Key Ways to Protect Yourself Against Boating Accidents
In Florida, owning a boat and using it is almost as common as owning a car – and that’s only a slight exaggeration! With water surrounding our state on three sides and no part of it very far from the sea or from “boat-able” lakes, rivers, and canals, it’s no wonder that boating and fishing are so popular in this part of the country.
But being safe on your boat is as important as having fun on it. There are literally thousands of boating accidents each year, causing serious bodily injuries and expensive property damage. Much of this could have been prevented, and what couldn’t be prevented could at least have been covered more fully by boat insurance.

Here is a look at the major causes of boating accidents in Florida and the three top ways you can protect yourself from boating accidents.

Top 6 Causes of Florida Boating Accidents
While there are numerous minute causes of boating accidents, we can reasonably group them into five major categories that cover most scenarios.

  1. Lack of proper training. Operating any watercraft without proper training and experience is risky. There are too many mistakes you can make as a novice, and the water can be quite unforgiving.
  2. Over-speeding. When you own a power boat, it can be tempting to throw caution to the wind and speed on like there’s no tomorrow. But that often leads to collisions and/or to capsizing. It’s just too hard to see hazards in time or to slow down in time when you are going that fast.
  3. Overloading the boat. All too often, too many people want to go out on the water all at once. But your vessel can only handle so many at a time. Capsizing or falling overboard becomes a major risk and is a major cause of boating fatalities.
  4. Not paying attention. Boat operator inattention leads to many accidents every year. You have to be aware of your surroundings, including being on the lookout for submerged obstacles. If you are using a jet ski, you should have an appointed lookout man as well.
  5. Equipment failure. Older engines and other equipment not properly maintained may fail and leave you stranded. Worse – it could cause an accident. Steering problems can lead to collisions or to capsizing.
  6. Drinking while boating. This is the big one, though we saved it for last. NEVER DRINK AND BOAT! It dramatically increases the odds of a boating accident and of a boating fatality.

3 Ways to Guard Against Boat Accidents
There are three major strategies you can use to reduce the risk of boat accidents and to be better prepared in case one does happen. These are:

  • Prepare yourself with safety training and safety equipment onboard.
  • Cover yourself with a good boat insurance policy.
  • Take care to operate your boat safely at all times.

1. Safety Training & Equipment
The first way to help prevent boating accidents starts before you ever step into the boat and get out on the water. Taking a boater education course is key – and it can save you money on your boat insurance premiums too! After all, you have to know how to operate a boat safely before you can do it. Also, you should retake a safety course every so many years to keep up to date and to review.

Also, get a free vessel safety check done by a US Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Examiner – or pay for one elsewhere if you wish. A self-check on your vessel is also in order. The point is make sure everything is in good working condition.

If your boat has up to date safety features, you could get a further discount on boat insurance. Be sure you bring life preservers (enough for everyone onboard!), emergency flares, and navigation lights. Bring a first aid kit too. And don’t forget to bring a functioning emergency radio that you know how to use.

2. Cover Your Boat With Boat Insurance
Another key step in preparing to go out boating is to cover your vessel with sufficient boat insurance. Boat insurance is not required by law in Florida, but given how common boating accidents are and how much many people invest in their vessels and accompanying equipment, it makes sense to buy a good boat insurance policy.

Most standard boat Insurance policies include personal liability coverage in case you injure others or damage their property, medical payments coverage to pay for your own injuries, and coverage of the vessel itself against accidental damage, theft, or vandalism. You can also add coverage for the motor and/or the boat trailer and can keep the vessel covered while in storage.

You can cover all manner of boats, from small water craft to bass boats to speed boats to sailboats. But each may require slightly different stipulations in the policy so be sure to discuss customizing your boat insurance with your insurance agent.

3. Always Operate Your Boat With Caution
Be a defensive boater! That’s the bottom line, just like with driving an automobile. Avoid excessive speeding (this can also get you a ticket!) and reckless boating of all kinds. Especially avoid drinking while boating. Don’t ever even bring a can of beer onboard.

Don’t forget to bring enough life vests and other safety equipment. And test safety gear before going out. Never turn down your emergency radio as you could miss important warnings. Know how many people can safely ride on your boat at once and never overload the vessel. Apply everything you learned about avoiding accidents in your boating safety course.

Finally, take careful note of all relevant weather forecasts. Don’t go out if foul, stormy, or dangerous weather is predicted. And once out on the water, continue to monitor weather conditions by listening to the radio and looking at the sky.

Finding the Right Boat Insurance Policy
Which boat insurance policy is right for you and your vessel will differ from that which is best for others.

Since accidents are never planned and risk can’t be 100% eliminated, you need to know what to do in the event of an accident – call 911, use first aid, get to shore and to proper medical care quickly. You also want to avoid paying out of pocket for what could be an expensive accident.

The type and size of your vessel, the age and condition of your boat, your typical boat usage patterns, where you live, your boating experience, and a host of other factors could affect which kind of boat insurance you should get and how much you will pay for it.

To learn more about how to select the best boat insurance policy, or for a free, no-obligation quote, contact Flagler County Insurance Agency in Central Florida today! We will give you a free consultation and help you customize your boat insurance to meet your exact needs and fit your budget.