If you have ever filed a car or home insurance claim, the process is pretty standard. But boat claims are very different in nature; the root causes of damage are vast and the recovery or transport of a damaged or sunken boat is a challenge that could also be complicated by environmental laws. Prevention is the best practice in order to avoid damage and having to file a claim.

Top causes of boat damage claims

  • Operator inexperience
  • Unmarked shoals or objects beneath the water surface
  • High water levels/low water levels
  • Winter/weather damage
  • Deadheads, logs, floating debris
  • Collisions with third party vessels, docks, etc.

Top 10 tips to avoid a boat insurance claim

1. Protect your investment – invest in timely and professional maintenance. Just as you would get your car serviced a couple of times a year, do the same for your boat.

2. Enroll in boating, charting and marine radio courses to become a top-notch captain.

3. Know before you go – study the waters you will be in, know submersible and grounding risks and navigate safely at all times.

4. Winterize your boat – take a look at the checklist, but if you are not comfortable with doing the extent of the work, we recommend using a professional when it is time to moor the boat for the season or take it out of the water.

5. Properly secure your boat at all times; make sure your dock lines are tight, but not too tight, use bumpers and secure all sails, hatches, etc. If possible, have a boat lift or suspension system, or store your boat out of the water for the winter.

6. If your boat is left at a marina, have it covered for the winter to help avoid theft, vandalism and rodent damage.

7. Inspect your boat regularly for frayed wires that aren’t properly supported, and for corrosion of AC shore-power inlets. Faulty wiring is the number one cause of boat fires.

8. Know the rules of the road for boating, but even if you are the ‘stand-on’ vessel you can never go wrong to do everything you can to avoid a collision.

9. Know the Marine Liability Act: In Canada, the Marine Liability Act dictates that a boat owner is legally responsible for up to $1.5 million per passenger in the event of an accident. In an instant, a fun day out on the sea can ruin you financially, unless you have adequate coverage. The more educated you are before boating season, the better.

10. Avoid personal injury while boating; in order to keep everybody safe, make sure that you have an operator who has taken a safety course and plans to stay attentive to the waters. Have fun, but safety first.

Anatomy of a boat insurance claim

Your insurance policy requires that you report and file a claim as soon as you canThat will initiate a number of steps:

1.  Your broker will open a claim notice Pacific Marine Underwriting (PMU) Managers of the loss. PMU will send a first notice of loss to Coast Claims, who will assign an adjuster to handle the claim. PMU, partners with Coast Claims to offer 24/7 assistance to file a claim in an emergency, outside of regular business hours.

2. Depending on the claim, PMU may engage the services of Crawford & Co to oversee a claim and to determine if any structural damage or environmental issues need to be resolved. Crawford & Co. have the expertise and the relationships to help move a boat claim along to resolution.

3.  The adjuster may rely on the report from the marine surveyor to determine the extent, cause and nature of the loss. They will review estimates for repairs or replacement and confirm it is an insured peril, in order to determine if the loss is covered.

4.  Once a report is generated, it is then submitted to the insurance company for payment.

Our goal is to educate our boating partners and owners on best practices to avoid claims.  But if an accident or incident occurs, you know your claim will be handled efficiently and promptly.

View this PDF of the Marine Liability Act

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