Back to top

How to Avoid the Five Most Common Boating Insurance Claims

Posted in Benefits of Marine Insurance, Important Information, Safety Tips on Dec 12, 2023.

The thrill of boating is undeniably enticing, but it's not without potential pitfalls. As a boat owner, understanding the often unforeseen circumstances that can lead to insurance claims is crucial. However, it's not just about knowing what could go wrong, but also how to prevent these situations in the first place. In this article, we will be discussing the most common types of boating insurance claims and providing practical tips on how to effectively avoid them.

Claim #1. Hitting an Underwater Object

One of the most frequent boating insurance claims is damage caused by hitting an underwater object. This can happen when cruising in unfamiliar waters where hidden obstacles, like rocks, sunken debris, or coral reefs, may lurk beneath the surface. Such collisions can cause significant damage to the boat's hull and propellers, leading to costly repairs and sometimes even rendering the boat non-operational.

To avoid such accidents, make use of navigation charts and depth finders to familiarize yourself with the waterways you are traversing. These tools can provide information about the water depth and the location of potential obstacles. Regularly maintaining your boat's navigation system and keeping an active lookout while sailing can also significantly reduce the risk. Moreover, always obey the marked navigational aids and buoys, as they are specifically placed to warn boaters about potential hazards.

Claim #2. Weather-Related Damage

Another common cause of boating insurance claims is weather-related damage. This typically occurs when boats are exposed to severe weather conditions such as hurricanes, torrential rain, strong winds, or lightning. These adverse conditions can lead to a variety of damages ranging from cracked windshields caused by high winds, water seepage due to heavy rain, or even complete destruction in extreme cases like a hurricane.

To mitigate the risk of weather-related damage, it's crucial to keep a close eye on the weather forecast, particularly when planning to go boating. Avoid heading out if the forecast predicts severe conditions. When a storm or severe weather is imminent, ensure your boat is securely moored and protected. If possible, consider moving your boat to a safer location or storing it indoors. Using boat covers can also provide an extra layer of protection against rain and wind. Also, regular maintenance and inspections can help detect and fix issues like leaks or weaknesses in the hull that could be exacerbated by bad weather.

Claim #3. Theft

The third most common boating insurance claim revolves around theft. Boats, especially those left unattended at docks or moorings, can become tempting targets for thieves. The loss is not limited to the boat itself; often, expensive equipment and personal belongings stored on the boat are also stolen. The aftermath of theft can be frustrating and costly, involving not just the financial loss but also the time and effort required to replace the boat or stolen items and the disruption to planned activities.

To prevent becoming a victim of theft, boat owners should adopt several security measures. Firstly, it is vital to ensure that the boat, as well as its equipment and personal items, are adequately secured when unattended. Investing in a good quality lock system and removing valuables from the boat can deter potential thieves. Utilizing a marina with good security measures in place, such as surveillance cameras and security personnel, can also increase protection. Tracking devices and alarm systems are also recommended for added security. Furthermore, ensuring the boat is well-insured can provide financial protection in the unfortunate event of a theft. Regularly documenting and updating the list of items and equipment on your boat can streamline the claim process if theft occurs.

Claim #4. Collisions

The fourth common boating insurance claim involves collisions. Accidents can occur with other boats, the shoreline, or fixed objects like docks or buoys, leading to significant damage. Such incidents often result from operator error, lack of attention, or poor visibility. The consequences of collisions can be serious, ranging from minor damage to the boat to severe, potentially life-threatening injuries.

It's important to prioritize safety at all times to avoid collision-related claims. Always operate the boat at a safe speed and maintain a safe distance from other boats, particularly in crowded areas. Being aware of your surroundings and using binoculars can assist in identifying obstacles, especially in low visibility conditions. Regular checks and maintenance of your boat's steering and propulsion system can also prevent equipment failure that could lead to accidents. Additionally, taking a boating safety course can equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills, while installing modern navigation aids can help prevent collisions.

Claim #5. Sinking

Sinking is the fifth most common boating insurance claim and is often the most catastrophic. Boats can sink due to a multitude of factors, such as severe weather, striking an underwater object, equipment failure, or simply neglect, leading to leaks or water intrusion. When a boat sinks, it's not just the loss of the vessel that's concerning but also the potential pollution caused by fuel or oil leakage into the water. This can lead to hefty penalties and clean-up costs on top of the loss of your boat.

Regular inspection and maintenance of the hull and other parts of the boat is crucial to prevent your boat from sinking. Pay special attention to seals, bilge pumps, and through-hull fittings, as these are common sources of water leaks. It's also important to ensure that the boat's drainage system is functioning properly and that the boat is not overloaded. Weather checks before setting sail can prevent exposure to conditions that could lead to sinking. Finally, always having functioning emergency equipment onboard, like life vests and floatation devices, can help prevent a bad situation from becoming a tragedy.

In conclusion, while boating can offer an escape to tranquillity and an avenue for thrilling water sports, it's crucial to be cognizant of the common causes leading to insurance claims. Preventative measures like regular maintenance, proper security, weather checks, and safe navigation can significantly reduce the likelihood of mishaps. However, unforeseen circumstances can still arise, and it's here that having a comprehensive boating insurance policy becomes invaluable.

If you're looking for reliable, comprehensive boat insurance, don't hesitate to contact MD Marine. Our dedicated team is committed to providing excellent customer service and swift responses to claims. We understand the inconveniences and disruption an incident can cause and strive to make the claim process as smooth and stress-free as possible. So why take a chance? Secure your peace of mind today with MD Marine Insurance.