Monday, June 22, 2009

Safe Practices & Insurance Keep You Cruising This Boating Season

Boating season is here and now is the time to make sure your doing everything you can to protect yourself, your passengers and other boaters while cruising Northwest waters throughout the summer.

While thousands of boaters prepare their vessels for aquatic fun and adventures, practicing safety and having the appropriate insurance will help reduce the risk of injury and keep you financially afloat while enjoying your time on the water.
That’s why NW Insurance Council and the Evergreen Safety Council encourage all boaters to make safety a first priority, check their insurance coverage and follow all boating laws to ensure a fun and safe boating season.

“Ensure your boat has the appropriate safety items, most importantly proper Coast Guard-approved life vests for everyone on board,” said Tom Odegard, Evergreen Safety Council president. “Be sure to have a fire extinguisher. On the water is one of the worst places to experience a fire.”

Next, check to make sure you have the appropriate amount of insurance to cover damage to your boat and any damage or injuries you may cause to other boaters and passengers.

“Owners of both sailboats and powerboats need insurance coverage just like car owners need auto insurance,” said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president.

Most homeowners or renters insurance policies offer limited coverage for property damage to small boats like canoes, small sailboats or powerboats with less than 25 horsepower.

Property damage coverage is typically limited to $1,000 or less, and liability coverage is subject to the limits of your Homeowners or Renters policy. For larger watercraft, a separate policy is needed to cover both damage to the boat and liability for damage caused to others due to owning and/or operating the boat.

Carelessness and inexperience are the leading causes of boating accidents and fatalities in Washington. On average, 27 people die from boat-related accidents each year in Washington, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Evergreen Safety Council offers these tips to help you enjoy your time on the water:
*Always wear a life jacket. Most boating fatality victims are not wearing a personal floating device (PFD).
*Avoid drinking alcohol.
*Take boater education classes.
*Always operate at safe speeds.
*Have a passenger serve as a lookout in addition to the operator.
*Watch out for low water areas or submerged objects.
*Maintain at least 50 feet of distance from other boats and personal watercraft.
*Check weather forecasts before heading out onto the water.
*Always obey all marine traffic laws and understand distress signals.
*Be sure your boat’s fuel, lights and electrical and exhaust systems are working properly before launching.
*Keep a first-aid kit, additional food and water in case you are ever stranded.

For more information about insuring your boat or other watercraft, visit NW Insurance Council. NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

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