Though the statistics are sobering, the risk of boating injuries and accidents can be minimized. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the majority of reported incidents involved operator controllable factors and can be prevented. The INAMAR Recreational Marine Insurance unit of ACE Select Markets - the division of ACE USA that focuses on the underwriting and marketing of specialty insurance products - re-released a top ten list detailing tips to help recreational boaters stay safe while reducing the number of preventable accidents that occur each year.
"There's no mystery to boating safety. Understanding and obeying navigational rules and safety procedures is proven to save lives while reducing injuries and property damage," said Peter Lafontaine, Vice President, Business Development, INAMAR Recreational Marine Insurance.
INAMAR's Top Ten Recreational Boating Safety Tips
1. Always wear a life jacket and insist that your crew and guests do the same. Approximately 70 percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned in 2003.(1) Eighty-six percent of those who drowned were not wearing their personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket. Make sure that children are wearing life jackets that fit correctly. Drowning was the reported cause of death for approximately 60 percent of the children who perished in 2003. Always have an adequate supply of personal flotation devices aboard.
2. Never drink alcohol while boating. In 2003, alcohol was involved in 31 percent of all boating fatalities. Stay sharp on the water by leaving the alcohol on dry land.(1)
3. Take a boating safety course. Consistent with previous years, more than 80 percent of all reported boating fatalities in 2003 occurred on boats where the operator had not completed a boating safety course.(1) You may even qualify for a reduced insurance rate if you complete a safety course. Contact your Coast Guard Auxiliary for information on courses in your area.
4. Stay in control by taking charge of your safety and that of your passengers. Adults between the ages of 40 and 49 accounted for highest rate of the total boating fatalities in 2003.(1) Don't forget that safety begins with you.
5. Understand and obey boating safety recommendations and navigational rules. Imagine the mayhem that would result if car drivers disregarded highway traffic laws. Know and understand boating safety procedures and rules of navigation before taking to the water, and practice them without fail.
6. Operate at a safe speed and always maintain a careful lookout. Overall, operator inattention, carelessness/reckless operation, operator inexperience and excess speed are leading contributing factors of all reported accidents.(1) Know your boat's limitations. Take note of visibility, traffic density and the proximity of navigation hazards like shoals, rocks or floating objects. Don't invite a collision by going faster than is prudent.
7. Check the weather forecast. A calm day can turn ugly fast on the water. Stay on top of the forecast while boating and heed all weather and storm advisories. Check the condition of your life raft annually and before long distance off shore cruising. Carry flares at all times.
8. Have your vessel checked for safety--for free! The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offers Vessel Safety Checks at no cost. Coast Guard staffers will check your boat's equipment and provide information about its use, safety procedures and applicable regulations. Unsafe boats are a threat to all recreational boaters. Make sure your vessel is as safe as possible. Visit the U.S. Coast Guard web site at www.uscg.mil for further information.
9. Use a carbon monoxide detector. All internal combustion engines emit carbon monoxide (CO), an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that can kill in minutes. CO poisoning can be caused by using air conditioning powered by an outboard motor, operating a gas-powered engine while docked, rafting with other boats operating engines, or improper cabin ventilation. Carbon monoxide poisoning caused seven boating deaths in 2003.(1)
10. File a float plan. The U.S. Coast Guard recommends that you always tell a friend or family member where you plan to go and when you'll be back. Make it a habit before leaving on any boat trip. The proper officials can be notified promptly if you don't return when expected.
According to Mr. Lafontaine, the more educated recreational boaters are about safety practices on the water, the better. Becoming a safety conscious boater can yield economic benefits as well. "Everyone who enjoys recreational boating should learn all that they can about safety procedures and navigational rules. Another important preparation is to have reliable and comprehensive insurance in place. Few people would drive a car without adequate insurance, yet countless recreational boaters take this risk," he noted.
Boat owners may be unaware that liability insurance can provide important coverages, including medical, that extend to paid crew and passengers. They can protect themselves and their passengers by purchasing insurance that will cover medical care if their injuries are caused by an uninsured boat operator. Coverages that will pay for repairs if their boat is damaged in the water, on land, or during transport are also available. Boat owners can also insure against the loss of personal property and the costs of towing and emergency assistance.
INAMAR Recreational Marine Insurance offers exceptional all-risk insurance coverage for vessels of all sizes - from the smallest to the largest - throughout the United States. Programs are available to protect the entire spectrum of pleasure yachts and boats and marine businesses, including luxury mega-yachts and sailboats, sport fishing boats, ski boats, personal watercraft, high performance vessels, select charter vessels and yacht clubs, marinas, boat dealers and more.
To learn more about INAMAR and obtain valuable information on a wide range of safety and loss prevention topics, please visit www.INAMARmarine.com.
INAMAR Recreational Marine insurance is a business unit of ACE Select Markets. Insurance policies issued by INAMAR are underwritten by subsidiary insurance companies of The ACE Group of Companies that are rated A (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company and A+ (Strong) by Standard & Poor's.
ACE Select Markets, a division of ACE USA, focuses on the underwriting and marketing of specialty insurance products targeted towards specific insurance buyers, affinity groups, small businesses and niche industries. Products and services are offered through a network of specialty agents as well as unique distribution channels and partners. Products and services include coverage for recreational boats, yachts and marine facilities, the ACE Disaster Mortgage Protection(SM) Policy, and credit card enhancement programs.
ACE USA is the U.S.-based retail operating division of The ACE Group of Companies, headed by ACE Limited (NYSE:ACE), and is rated A (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company and A+ (Strong) by Standard & Poor's. ACE USA, through its underwriting companies, provides insurance products and services throughout the U.S. Additional information on ACE USA and its products and services can be found at www.ace-ina.com. The ACE Group of Companies provides insurance and reinsurance for a diverse group of clients around the world.