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With boating season underway, now is a good time to make sure you're doing everything you can to protect yourself, your passengers and other boaters while cruising Northwest waters throughout the year.

Practicing safety and having the appropriate insurance will help reduce the risk of injury and keep you financially afloat while enjoying your time on the water.

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.

Insurance Tips

  • Owners of both sailboats and powerboats need insurance coverage just like car owners need auto insurance.
  • 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.
  • Take a boater education class. A majority (52%) of vessels involved in boating accidents are operated by persons 26-50 years of age.
  • Always wear a life jacket. Most boating fatality victims are not wearing a personal floating device (PFD). Children under 13 must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Take boater education classes.
  • Always operate at safe speeds.
  • Don't overload your boat
  • 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.
  • Keep a first-aid kit, additional food and water in case you are ever stranded.

Safety tips provided by the Evergreen Safety Council.

Find boater education classes in your state:

For more information about insuring your boat or other watercraft, visit NW Insurance Council at http://www.nwinsurance.org.