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Whether you’re heading out for some kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, or you’re taking your boat out on the open water, there are some things you should do to ensure your safety. One of those is making sure you have boat insurance.

While boating insurance isn’t legally required, we recommend it to all of our customers and clients who own boats or any other type of water vessel. This is because accidents can and do happen. Another boater could hit you causing serious damage, or you could even accidentally damage public or private property while in your boat. If you don’t have boat insurance, then you’d be at a huge financial loss. Let us help you review your boating insurance options.

Here are some other tips to help you stay safe while enjoying your time on the water.

  • Check the weather where you’re going out. Radio, TV, and the weather app on your phone are all good sources.  If you’re already on the water and notice dark clouds, rough and unpredictable winds, or sudden temperature drops, play it safe and get off the water ASAP.
  • Use common sense. Operate at safe speeds, be aware of your surroundings, steer clear of hazards (other boats, rocks, bridge pilings, etc.). Also, be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids, which are there for your safety.
  • Have a backup operator (assistant skipper for larger vessels). If you’re out on a boat with others, make sure at least one other person knows how to operate it safely in case something happens to you.
  • Develop a float plan and let someone—a friend, a family member, a marina operator, local recreation area rangers, etc.—know what it is. This is especially critical if you’re planning to go out solo but applies to groups as well. A good float plan often includes the following:
    • name, address, phone number or trip leader (or solo operator)
    • name and phone number of all passengers (if applicable)
    • boat type and registration information
    • trip itinerary
    • types of communication and signal equipment on board (if applicable)
  • Use lifejackets at all times. Make sure they’re fitted properly and wear them at all times when out on the water. Accidents happen with terrifying speed; there’s rarely time to reach for a stowed lifejacket at need.
  • Avoid alcohol. Not only does it increase the risk for accidents, the consequences for BUI (Boating Under the Influence) are severe. As stated on the USCG Boating website:

“It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. The Coast Guard also enforces a federal law that prohibits BUI. This law pertains to ALL boats (from canoes and rowboats to the largest ships)  and includes foreign vessels that operate in U.S. waters, as well as U.S. vessels on the high seas.”

  • Going paddling? Know your limits. It’s usually easy to get where you’re going, but make sure you can get back safely as well. For some other tips and “know your limits” information, check out the American Canoe Association (ACA).
  • Learn to swim. If you’re going to be on the water, you need to know how to swim. Local organizations (Parks & Rec, Red Cross, etc.)  offer training for all ages and abilities.
  • Take a boating course. This will teach you the rules, regulations, and boating safety rules of operation. Boater education requirements vary by state, but most require at least the completion of a basic safety course. Local community and online courses are available.
  • Consider a free vessel safety check. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) offers complimentary (free) in-person boat examinations to verify the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations. They also offer virtual online safety checks as well.