Don’t Let Your Summer Boat Fun Be Pirated: Boat and PWC Safety

boatSeveral years ago growing up in the picturesque Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, my father and I got into the family car and drove out to the storage facility where we kept our boat over the winter. Picking up that old blue and white motorboat and getting it ready to go into the water was always the first real sign that summer was approaching and the long New York winters were finally over. Except when we got there, the boat was missing. Gone. Someone had hitched our trailer with our boat on it to their truck and taken off with it.  My dad called the local sheriff’s office and our family’s insurance agent to report it.


Fortunately the story has a happy ending- within about an hour we received a very apologetic call from a local mechanic who was hired to pick up another boat at the facility and had accidentally taken ours and didn’t realize it until he took the tarp off. (I guess sometimes it’s tough to tell one mostly white boat with a blue tarp from another). All was well, but even if it had turned out to be stolen, our insurance agent had been very reassuring that we had coverage to replace the boat if necessary. We felt much better and enjoyed a great summer out on the water.
As the summer ramps up and the warm days turn to hot days many people will be spending a lot of time out on the water. Whether you’re taking the boat out for a weekend or renting personal water crafts on a summer vacation, it’s important to remember the risks of boating and other water sports. The following tips will help keep you safe on the water and be prepared in the event of an accident.
  • Understand your liability and risks. A homeowners policy is not designed to cover significant watercraft exposures and consumers should contact their Gregory's Insurance professional to find out if coverage can be added or if they need a separate watercraft policy that fully covers damage to the boat, liability, and uninsured boaters.
  • Many people rent boats but even with a watercraft policy a rental boat may not be covered.
  • Never use a boat that is not equipped with fully operational safety equipment onboard. At a minimum, any boat should contain life preservers for all occupants, a well-stocked first aid kit, powerful flashlight, two-way VHF radio, fire extinguisher, flare kit, and a local area water chart. Large boats should also contain additional lines of varied size and an inflatable lifeboat.
  • Never exceed the passenger capacity recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Always keep all owners manuals onboard.
Personal water crafts
  • Personal water crafts and other similar recreational water vehicles can be very dangerous and they can require separate insurance policies. Owners should also consult their Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent to make sure they have adequate liability coverage to protect them, especially if they regularly ride tandem or if they injure others in an accident.
  • Children should never ride a personal water craft.
  • Never use a personal water craft in foul weather.
  • Strictly follow all safety guidelines and make sure anyone driving the vehicle knows exactly how to operate it and shut it off.
  • Take care and understand the risks in storing and transporting personal water crafts. Standard homeowners and auto policies will not cover theft of the water vehicle from a trailer.
  • Use caution when renting a personal water craft and know your responsibilities. Always consult an agent to fully understand liability exposure and coverage in this situation.
Depending on what state you live in there may be certain age or licensing requirements to operate a boat or personal watercraft, so check with local officials about boating rules and regulations. Never operate a boat or personal water craft while intoxicated.

Don’t get caught on the open water without the right insurance. If you need coverage for a watercraft or if you have any questions about your policy, a Gregory's Insurance professional can help you on your way to smooth sailing.
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