Boat Insurance- what you may not know
A lot of people think insuring a pleasure craft is a straight forward process. In the majority of cases this is true. However, there are subtleties that you need to be aware of before casting off the dock, especially when it comes to liability.
Why is liability so important?
Towing anyone on skis, tubes or any other inflatable requires skill and attention to the rider. If you injure a participant due to your negligence, you can be sued for damages. The obvious risk is whipping the rider into a landmass or dock or another vessel. However, you can also cause severe injuries or death by allowing them to be struck by your boat’s propeller. Open water upsets that result in injury can also be attributed to poor or inexperienced boating habits. If you do not have waterskiing liability included on your policy you could be facing financial ruin by not including these activities. Many policies include this activity but, if you tow anyone, be sure to have it included.
Aside from direct injuries caused by you, you can also be found liable for damage to others’ vessels caused indirectly by you such as a destructive wake in a marina or moorage area.
Apart from the above waterskiing/watersports activity you could still find your liability policy non-responsive to a loss. If you do not have the proper licensing to operate a motorized vessel (your PCOC) then your policy may not respond, much the same way your auto insurance would not cover non-licensed drivers. Go to : http://www.cps-ecp.ca/pcoc.html to learn more about boat operator licensing.
Impairment will also void your coverage, the same as a motor vehicle insurance policy. Operating your boat in a reckless manner or disobeying navigational aids such as buoys marking swimming areas may also render your policy ineffective in the event of a loss.
Commercial usage of a boat
Commercial usage is typically excluded from boat policies due to the potential loss magnitude. But, you’re not a towing company or commercial cargo carrier, so are you still at risk?
You can still find yourself offside with your policy if you accept compensation of any kind involving usage of your boat. This could be as simple as someone giving you a few dollars to run them over to their lakeside cabin. Accepting money during a outing with friends is different because you would be going out anyway and the payment was not a condition of carriage.
If in doubt about your marine policy, contact your broker for further clarification.