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Karl Newman, President
Sandi Henke, Communications Director     
NW Insurance Council 
Phone: (800) 664-4942
Fax: (206) 624-1975
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Boating season: watercraft safety and proper insurance will keep you cruising this summer

SEATTLE - Summer is heating up and boaters are taking to the water for aquatic fun. Now is a great time make sure you are doing everything you can to protect yourself, your passengers and other boaters while cruising Northwest waters throughout the summer.

Practicing water safety and having the appropriate insurance will help reduce your personal and financial risk while enjoying your time on the water.

NW Insurance Council and the Evergreen Safety Council are encouraging you to check your insurance coverage, make safety a first priority and follow all boating laws to ensure a fun and safe boating season.

"Make sure your boat has the appropriate safety items, most importantly proper Coast Guard-approved life vests for everyone on board," said Tom Odegaard, Evergreen Safety Council president. "Be sure to have a fire extinguisher. On the water is one of the worst places to experience a fire."

Also, check to make sure you have the appropriate amount of insurance to cover damage to your boat and any damage or injuries you may cause to other boaters and passengers.

"Owners of both sailboats and powerboats need insurance coverage just like car owners need auto insurance," said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president.

Insurance Tips
Most Homeowners or Renters insurance policies offer limited coverage for property damage to small boats like canoes, small sailboats or powerboats with less than 25 horsepower. Property damage coverage is typically limited to $1,000 or less, and liability coverage is subject to the limits of your Homeowners or Renters policy.

For larger watercraft, a separate policy is needed to cover both damage to the boat and liability for damage caused to others due to owning and/or operating the boat.

Safety Tips
Carelessness and inexperience are the leading causes of boating accidents and fatalities in Washington. On average, 27 people die from boat-related accidents each year in Washington, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Evergreen Safety Council and NW Insurance Council offer these tips to help you enjoy your time on the water:

  • Always wear a life jacket. Most boating fatality victims are not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD).
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while boating.
  • Take water safety classes before venturing out onto the water.
  • Always operate at safe speeds.
  • Have a passenger serve as a lookout in addition to the operator.
  • Watch out for low-water areas or submerged objects.
  • Maintain at least 50 feet of distance from other boats and personal watercraft. " Check weather forecasts before heading out onto the water.
  • Always obey all marine traffic laws and understand distress signals.
  • Be sure your boat's fuel, lights and electrical and exhaust systems are working properly before launching.
  • Be sure your boat's fuel, lights and electrical and exhaust systems are working properly before launching. The US Coast Guard Auxiliary offers free boat safety inspections. Use the following link to get to the nearest inspector:
  • Keep a first-aid kit, additional food and water in case you are stranded.

For more information about insuring your boat or other watercraft, visit NW Insurance Council. If you'd like to find out more about boating safety, contact the Evergreen Safety Council at (800) 521-0778.

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Evergreen Safety Council is a private, nonprofit organization serving businesses, governmental entities and communities of the States of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska through the dissemination of safety and health information and the provision of safety and health training.