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Jun 5, 2009

PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Recreational boating activity soars during warm weather months, and so do boating incidents and injuries. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s “Boating Statistics 2007,”1 the most recent year available, there are almost 13 million registered recreational boats in the United States. While overall boating fatalities slightly decreased from 710 in 2006 to 685 in 2007, there was an increase of other casualty factors. Nearly 5,200 boating accidents were reported, a slight increase from nearly 5,000 in 2006 and close to 3,700 people required medical treatment beyond first aid, an increase from nearly 3,500 in 2006. In addition, property damage exceeded $53 million, an increase from more than $43 million in 2006.

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 factors that were within the control of boat operators. ACE Recreational Marine Insurance has again released its top ten list detailing tips to help recreational boaters stay safe, thus potentially reducing the number of preventable accidents that may occur each year.

“There’s no mystery to boating safety and its potential impact on saving lives. Understanding and obeying navigational rules and safety procedures has proven to help reduce injuries and property damage,” said Damon R. Hostetter, Senior Vice President, ACE Recreational Marine Insurance.

ACE Recreational Marine 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 2007.1 Ninety percent of those who drowned were not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket. Always have an adequate supply of personal flotation devices (PFDs) aboard. Make sure that children are wearing appropriate life jackets that fit correctly. Drowning was the reported cause of death for approximately 50 percent of the children who perished in 2007. Overall, fatal accident data suggests that more than 380 lives could have been saved if boaters had worn their life jackets.
  2. Never drink alcohol while boating. In 2007, alcohol was either a direct or indirect contributing factor in 30 percent of all boating fatalities. Stay sharp on the water by leaving the alcohol on dry land.1
  3. Take a boating safety course. More than 70 percent of all reported boating fatalities in 2007 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 local Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadron2 or for information on courses in your area.
  4. Stay in control by taking charge of your safety and that of your passengers. Boaters between the ages of 36 and 55 accounted for the highest rate of the total boating fatalities in 2007.1 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 were significant contributing factors in virtually all reported accidents. 1 Know your boat’s limitations as well as your own. 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 quickly turn ugly on the water. Keep an eye out for changing weather conditions and stay on top of the forecast while boating. Promptly heed all weather and storm advisories.
  8. Have your vessel checked for safety—for free! The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offers Vessel Safety Checks at no cost. Coast Guard Auxiliary 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. Carry flares at all times. Visit the U.S. Coast Guard web site at 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. Carbon monoxide poisoning caused 6 boating deaths in 2007.1
  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. Hostetter, the more educated recreational boaters are about safety practices on the water, the better. “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 coverage, including medical, that may 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 operator of another boat. 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.

In addition to the boating safety tips above, ACE also offers a free “Coming Out of Lay-up” brochure, which offers detailed recommendations for preparing your vessel for the boating season. Please to download this safety brochure, by clicking on the “Boating Safety & Loss Prevention” link, then selecting the “Coming Out of Lay-up” brochure.

ACE Recreational Marine Insurance, part of ACE Private Risk Services, 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, including luxury mega-yachts and sailboats, sport fishing boats, ski boats, personal watercraft, high performance vessels, and select charter vessels.

To learn more about ACE Recreational Marine Insurance and obtain valuable information on a wide range of safety and loss prevention topics, please visit

ACE Private Risk Services is the high-net-worth personal lines business of ACE, which provides specialty coverage for homeowners, automobile, recreational marine, umbrella liability and collections insurance for affluent individuals and families. The ACE Group of Companies is headed by ACE Limited (NYSE:ACE), and is rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best Company and A+ (Strong) by Standard & Poor’s. The ACE Group provides insurance and reinsurance for a diverse group of clients around the world. To learn more about the ACE Group of Companies, please visit:


2 United States Power Squadron.


ACE Recreational Marine Insurance
Media Contact:
Carla L. Ferrara, 215-640-4744