Insuring Your Boat
If your boat is financed, docked at a local marina or stored in your private boathouse, insurance can protect your liability risks. While boat insurance is not mandatory it can cover damage, liability and other unforeseen events.
Types of Insurance
For a privately owned recreational boat, your insurance options include:
- Hull and Machinery – provides damage coverage up to the total loss of your boat and attached equipment.
- Protection and Indemnity – provides liability coverage that protects you against property damage and bodily injury. It also provides help with investigating a loss and preparing your defense. If you are found to be at fault, it provides payment up to the limit listed in your policy.
- Medical Payments – provides coverage for incidental medical expenses due to an incident on your boat.
What Insurers Need to Know
The information that an insurance company requires about a boat and its operators is similar to the type of information it needs to provide auto insurance. It includes:
- The boat’s length, type and value.
- Its condition and market value – your insurer may ask for a survey if your boat is more than 15 years old.
- How frequently the boat is used, what it’s used for, and how and where it is stored.
- The waters you typically navigate and if you ever charter your boat.
- The experience, loss and claims history of the owner and/or operators.
- If the operators are members of the Sail Canada or Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons.
If you also own a recreational property you may have outbuildings, such as a boathouse, garage or shed. You may need additional coverage to ensure that these buildings are fully protected – be aware of coverage and exclusions.
6 Steps to Boat Safety
- Keep your Pleasure Craft Operator (PCO) card with you. Federal regulations specify that anyone who operates a boat with a motor in Canada must have a PCO card.
- Before boating, check the weather forecast. Ensure there are no hazards, such as high winds or approaching thunderstorms.
- Plan ahead. Know where you are going. Getting lost on the water is no fun. Bring a map and tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Fill up the gas tank. Ensure that your boat has enough fuel for your outing. Keep tools, spare parts, a first-aid kit and other safety equipment – such as paddles, whistles and flares – on board.
- Ensure that every person has a lifejacket. The law requires boats to be equipped with a Canadian-approved life jacket or PFD of an appropriate size for each person on board. Make sure your PFD is comfortable and allows for easy movement. Check that seams are intact and all snaps, belts and zippers work properly. Remember, bright colors are easier to spot in an emergency.
- Be responsible. Boat sober. Boats and booze don’t mix. Sun, wind, noise, glare, vibrations and motion can heighten the effect of alcohol on your balance, vision, judgment and coordination. Don’t allow a person who has consumed alcohol to operate a boat.
Source: Insurance Bureau of Canada. The tips have been adapted from “Boating and Fishing Safety Tips“, courtesy of the Lifesaving Society.