Common Boat Insurance Terms

An image of a boat with two hands around it to symbolize boat insurance.

When you’re shopping for marine insurance, there are some common boat insurance terms you should be aware of. This guide reviews these terms so you know what they mean when you’re shopping for coverage.

Boat Insurance Terminology

It’s important to know common boat insurance terms when you’re shopping for marine insurance. Not only will knowing what these terms mean help you know what’s covered in your policy, but you can use them to customize your boat insurance policy to your needs.

Navigational Limits

When you see this term in your policy, it means that your coverage only applies if you operate your boat within defined zones. An example could be that you’re only allowed to travel a set number of miles away from shore or that you can’t exit your Canadian boundaries. Not knowing about these limits could lead to claims being denied if you’re outside navigational limits when an accident occurs.

Operators

The people whom you plan to allow to operate your boat are called the operators. It’s important to add everyone you plan on permitting to use your boat to your policy. The number of operators and each person’s information could determine your insurance rate.

Lay-up Period

If you’re planning to keep your boat stored somewhere for certain times of the year, you can save money on insurance through a lay-up period. This is a set time when you’re not going to use your boat, and your insurance won’t cover it during this time either. The most common lay-up period is during the winter when most people don’t plan on going boating.

Pollution Liability

This is a type of liability coverage that pays for cleaning up oil and fuel spills. If you’re responsible for gas or oil leaks, you may be held liable for the cost of cleaning the waters to protect marine life. Pollution liability covers you if you’re found at fault for a spill.

Towing Liability

If you’re going to use your boat to pull anything behind it, such as water skiers or other watercraft, this coverage is necessary. It protects you if you’re at fault for any accident that involves towing.

Emergency Services

The definition of emergency services can vary between insurance companies. Due to the ambiguity of this term, it’s best to make sure that your insurance company gives you a clear definition of what’s covered. In many cases, services such as recovering a lost boat or towing you to shore could be covered, among other things.

Date Restrictions

Like a lay-up period, date restrictions define when your boat isn’t covered. Some people find they can reduce their marine insurance payments if they purchase policies with date restrictions, but this also means that you’re not always free to plan your boating adventures on your own schedule. If you have date restrictions, there are specific dates you’re allowed to use your boat.

Brown Water

Brown water is a term that means the first five miles off the coast.

Blue Water

Once you leave brown water, you’re in blue water, which is any water more than five miles away from land.

Agreed Value

If you choose to take out a boat insurance policy with an agreed value provision, you’ll know the exact amount of money you can claim in a situation where you declare a total loss. You and your insurance company come up with an agreed value of your boat and any hardware you bring along before you take out the insurance policy.

This is a good way to ensure you can buy a new boat if you suffer a total loss. Without this policy provision, your insurance company will only compensate you for the current market value of your property, which could be significantly lower than you paid for it.

How to Read and Understand Boat Insurance Policies

There isn’t any standard boat insurance policy, so it’s easy to purchase coverage without knowing what you’re getting. This is why you need to take the time to read your policy before you purchase it. When reviewing the policy, consider the following:

Is It Liability Only?

Liability coverage protects you from being sued when your missteps lead to injury or property damage. If your policy only covers personal liability, however, you’re on the hook for the cost of repairing or replacing your own property.

What Are the Coverage Conditions?

Coverage conditions include things like date restrictions, navigational limits and the covered operators. It’s important to understand what limits your policy has because if you don’t abide by the rules, the policy becomes useless.

Other conditions not mentioned in the terms above might include whether you’re allowed to use your boat for private or commercial use and if you can live on your boat during the layup period.

How Is Your Property Valued?

It’s important to review whether your policy is an agreed-value policy or an actual cash-value policy. This lets you know what you could expect if you need to file a claim after an accident. While actual cash value policies are cheaper upfront, they could be costlier if you need to file a claim.

What’s Excluded?

There are some things that your insurance won’t cover, such as if your boat is damaged due to your own negligence, an act of fraud. Poorly maintaining your boat, wear and tear and operating in freezing weather are other common exclusions.

Your Deductible

Marine insurance comes with a deductible. This is your responsibility when you’re in an accident. For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible and the cost of repairs is $5,000, your insurance would only pay $4,000.

Let Portside Insurance Find the Perfect Policy for You

Navigating the complexities of boat insurance can be frustrating. This is where we come in at Portside Insurance. We can help you find the perfect policy to suit your needs, and help you understand all the terminology in the process. Contact us today to get started.

Top Causes of Boat Damage

Damaged boat sinking in the water.

Taking your watercraft out on the open water is undoubtedly an exciting opportunity to discover the joys of being a boater. While the allure of adventure is apparent, there are many other factors to consider, including instances which may damage your boat. Navigating these potential hazards skillfully is a keen ability, especially since these dangers can inflict costly and catastrophic harm to your cherished vessel. 

Within this post, we’ll delve into the predominant culprits behind boat damage and shed some light on the risks that demand attention from all boat operators. Whether you boast years of experience or are a novice eager to explore the water, comprehending these recurring causes is pivotal for safeguarding your watercraft’s longevity and safety. Let’s get started:

Collision and Impact 

Collisions with docks, piers, submerged objects, and other boats are major contributors to boat damage. These kinds of accidents can cause issues cosmetically and mechanically. A ding or a scratch can be an easy fix, but serious structural issues often result from collisions. The extent of this damage depends on:

  • The objects involved
  • The speed at which the boat was moving
  • Your vessel’s preexisting structure and condition.

To avoid damage caused by collisions, it’s best to stay alert when boating and pay keen attention to navigational aids, like depth finders.

Improper Maintenance 

Keeping up with regular maintenance requirements for your boat can mean a unique to-do list. Cleaning, including wiping down seats and pressure washing the exterior, proper lubrication and oil checks, and 360 inspections for wear and tear are crucial to ensuring your watercraft is in top condition. Skipping over essential maintenance tasks can lead to various degrees of damage, including:

  • Electrical system failures
  • Engine and mechanical problems
  • Paint and gel coat damage
  • Plumbing and water system issues

Water Corrosion 

Many believe boats are immune to water damage since they’re designed to sit in the water for extended periods. However, this is a misconception. Constant water exposure, especially to salt water, can eventually cause corrosion in the metal components of your vessel. The result is a structural weakness that can quickly impact other parts of your boat.

As a best practice, regularly take your boat out of the water and wash it. Once done, allow it time to dry. This is an essential process when preparing to winterize your vessel. Corrosion-resistant coatings are also available to apply over the metal components of your boat, such as the fittings, cleats and fasteners, to prevent rusting.

Grounding 

Whether you’re adventurous about where you boat or prefer to stick to one body of water, knowing the water depths at all times is something you can’t afford to overlook. Shallow areas can be hazardous to navigate through, particularly when the boat’s hull comes into contact with the bottom of the water, which is known as running aground or grounding. Grounding can have severe consequences for the structure of your boat, such as:

  • Scrapes, cracks, and punctures in the hull
  • Damage to the keel and rudder
  • Propeller damage

Before heading out on the water, consult navigation charts to steer clear of shallow waters safely. Consider adding a depth finder to your vessel if you don’t already have one, which can provide real-time updates on how deep the water is.

Capsizing or Swamping

When there are sudden shifts in weight, extreme waves, wind, or cases when you exceed the boat’s weight capacity, your vessel may take on water quickly and without warning. This can result in capsizing or swamping.

  • Capsizing: When a boat is rolled on its side or upside down
  • Swamping: When a boat remains upright but is filled with water

When large amounts of water overtake a boat, the damage can be extensive. The boat’s equipment, engine, and electronic components can malfunction due to water exposure, and in the worst case, the vessel may sink altogether. To avoid capsizing or swamping, check weather conditions before you take your boat out on the water. Additionally, always pay attention to weight capacity and distribute it evenly on board.

Equipment or Engine Failures 

Engine and equipment failures pose significant risks to boats. When a boat’s engine malfunctions, it can leave you stranded or, worse, in dangerous waters. Routine maintenance is crucial to prevent engine damage resulting from neglected oil changes, overheating, or fuel system issues. 

Similarly, equipment failures, like faulty navigational instruments or electrical systems, compromise safety and functionality. These issues can lead to accidents, expensive repairs, and even sinking in extreme cases. Regular inspections, maintenance, and prompt repairs can ensure your boat stays afloat and operates safely on the water.

Extreme Weather 

Extreme weather can wreak havoc on boats, even when tied safely to a dock or marina. 

  • Heavy rain can lead to flooding, overwhelming bilge pumps. 
  • Hail can dent and damage boat surfaces. 
  • Freezing temperatures can harm engines and pipes, leading to costly repairs. 
  • Extreme heat can cause material deterioration. 
  • Sun exposure can fade and weaken paint and upholstery.

To safeguard boats from these elements, owners must follow proper mooring procedures, secure covers, and perform regular maintenance. Keeping an eye on weather forecasts and knowing when to stay ashore is equally crucial for safety.

Protect Your Vessel with Boat Insurance

With the excitement of owning and operating a watercraft also comes the responsibility of addressing various possible scenarios in which damage can occur. Vigilance and proactive measures are essential to ensure your vessel is safe and operable, but in some cases, unforeseen circumstances can still happen.

At Portside Insurance, we understand this better than anyone. Boat insurance provides the peace of mind that no matter your level of experience, nor the type or age of the watercraft, your boat is adequately protected in numerous instances and events. Our policies can be customized to suit your vessel’s unique needs, making you feel secure in whatever waters you choose to explore. Contact us today to learn more about the types of policies we offer.

What Is Emergency Towing Coverage For Boats?

What is emergency towing coverage for boats?

Picture this: You’ve gotten up early to watch the sunrise on the water in your boat. Out in the middle of the lake, you enjoy the moment just long enough before it’s time to head back to shore. When you stick your key into the ignition and give it a sharp turn, anticipating the steady growl of your boat’s engine—nothing happens.

Whether your boat is in pristine condition or has seen a few summers, it could break down at the most inconvenient of times. As a boat owner, being prepared for this situation is crucial. 

Emergency towing coverage for boats is a saving grace for unpredictable circumstances that leave you unable to bring your boat to shore. Let’s dive into the technicalities of this coverage and what it means for you as a boat owner:

What Is Emergency Towing Coverage?

Emergency towing coverage is a type of insurance coverage that provides boat owners with assistance should their boat not start or become stranded while out on the water. If this occurs, your boat will be towed to a repair facility or marina, where it can receive the maintenance that it needs. Similar to emergency towing coverage for other vehicles, the intention of this kind of insurance is to lessen the financial burden that often accompanies unforeseen towing expenses. 

How Does Emergency Towing Coverage Work?

There are generally five different factors involved in emergency towing coverage for boats. Let’s take a look at them in more detail:

Claims Process

To take advantage of your emergency towing coverage, you must first contact your insurance provider to file a claim. Your provider will help you navigate this process and ensure that your insurance is applied accurately. They may arrange for the towing service to come and get you or give you the number to call yourself. In most cases, payment will be handled directly by your insurer.

Covered Events

Whether you ran out of fuel or your battery died—there is an expansive range of reasons why your boat may suddenly stop functioning while in use. Emergency towing coverage can cover various circumstances, including engine failures, overheating, contaminated fuel, or running aground. Most situations in which the boat has been rendered immobile and is unable to operate safely would be considered a covered event.

Towing Service

After you have contacted your insurance company, explained the circumstances, and verified this is a covered event, the next step is the towing service itself. For emergency towing coverage, an established marine towing company will come to your location, hook your boat up, and bring it to a marina or repair facility where it can be properly looked at.

Coverage Limits 

Your insurance policy will have a specified maximum limit that they will pay for emergency towing services for your boat. This limit is dependent on your provider and the kind of insurance plan that you have selected. Once you have reached your limit, you may have to contact your insurance company to discuss how to extend your coverage or pay the remaining amount out of pocket.

Geographical Coverage 

Similar to other types of insurance, your boat coverage may have geographical boundaries on where the towing service is covered. This may be in a certain town or region or a specific distance from your area of residence. Understanding these limitations may impact where you choose to launch and travel on your boat, so it’s important to be aware of the details of your coverage and act accordingly.

Do All Boat Insurance Plans Cover Emergency Towing Services?

Boat insurance policies can be customized depending on your provider. In many cases, a dedicated boat insurance company can help secure you proper coverage for all essential and additional needs, including emergency towing services, However, not all insurance policies include this basic coverage. 

This is why it’s crucial to discuss your insurance needs with your provider when setting up your plan. Being informed about your coverage can help you prevent expensive problems down the road.

Your Responsibility as a Boat Owner

Owning and operating a boat is no small feat. You are responsible for not only your own safety but that of anyone who may be around you when you’re out on the water, such as passengers in your own boat or fellow boaters nearby. 

Many insurance policies often require boat operators to take their own initiative in boat maintenance. This may include inspecting your vessel regularly for upkeep to ensure safe functioning and following safe boating practices. This makes the boat owner accountable for preventing or minimizing harm to their watercraft.  A lack of care in this area and a failure to maintain your boat may have an impact on your eligibility for coverage. 

What Do Most Basic Boat Insurance Plans Include?

Boat insurance has your back for when the most unforeseen circumstances may occur, and can follow a similar policy structure as car insurance plans. Most basic plans include:

  • Coverage against collisions, fires, thefts, and loss of personal effects
  • Emergency towing expenses
  • The choice between agreed value or actual cash value coverage, where, in the event of total or partial loss, you’ll receive the full value of your boat or part at the time of opening your insurance policy, or the fair market value.

Although it is challenging to predict what might happen to your boat on the water, marine insurance can help you prepare for rough waters.

Portside Insurance Can Help

Emergency towing coverage for boats is an essential component of being a responsible boat owner. It offers peace of mind that, should your boat become immobilized on the water, you have a plan in place to get yourself out of that situation safely and without paying high costs.  At Portside Insurance, we can help you discover the insurance plan for you and your vessel. We offer comprehensive marine insurance coverage to ensure you can enjoy your time spent on the water. Contact us today to get started.

What to Do If Your Boat Catches Fire

What to Do If Your Boat Catches Fire

The last thing you want to think about when going on a boating adventure is your vessel going up in flames, but, as a boat owner, it’s vital to be prepared for all possibilities. This guide reviews what you can do to protect yourself and your passengers in case of a boat fire.

Common Causes of Boat Fires

Knowing what leads to boat fires can help you prevent them from occurring in the first place. If you keep your boat maintained and operate it in a safe manner, it could reduce your chance of being involved in a boat fire. However, even with the best precautions, some incidents are unavoidable.

1. Engine Trouble

Many boat fires begin in the engine compartment. You could have a faulty regulator, defective or worn battery wiring, leaking fuel lines or worn connections.

2. Poor Docking Procedures

Your boat can be involved in an incident when you’re not even using it. This can happen when docking in a location with a higher risk of a fire.

3. Operating Irresponsibly

You should abide by all boating laws and watch your distance from other vessels and speed at all times. While collisions don’t frequently result in fires, it’s still possible for boating accidents to lead to this incident.

What to Do if Your Boat is on Fire

Knowing what to do in a boat fire increases your chance of remediating the issue and keeping everyone safe. If possible, perform practice drills with the people you plan on boating with so that everyone can respond effectively if a blaze occurs.

Stop the Engine

You should stop the engine immediately when you notice any signs of a boat fire. If the engine is the cause of the fire, keeping it running can spread the flames faster. Even if the engine isn’t the source of the fire, you don’t want the boat to be moving because the wind can give the flames the oxygen they need to expand.

Shut Off the Fuel Supply

Shutting off the fuel supply is another measure that limits the spread of the fire. It can also help extinguish the flames and avoid explosions because it won’t reach your fuel tank.

Know How to Position Your Boat

The direction of the wind matters in a fire, and you can protect everyone on board simply by facing your boat in the right direction. If you notice the front of the boat is burning, turn the stern side toward the wind. If the fire is in the back, head toward the wind. Positioning the flames away from the wind decreases the chances of the fire spreading.

If your engine is on fire or you’ve already shut it off, you can use oars to face your boat in the correct direction. Keep repositioning the vessel if the wind is shifting.  

Extinguish the Fire

Many people wonder if you need a fire extinguisher on a boat. It’s important to always have a fire extinguisher on board in unfortunate incidents like this. When using it, make sure you aim for the base of the fire and use a sweeping motion when extinguishing it.

Call for Help

Before you depart, you should make sure you have emergency flares and a marine radio to call for help and signal other vessels when you’re in distress. Should you realize that the boat is taking on water or the fire can’t be contained, radio the authorities with your last known location before abandoning the ship.

Flotation Devices

In some cases, if your boat catches fire, you may need to abandon it. To ensure everyone’s safety, you should immediately distribute and put on personal flotation devices. Call for help with your radio, note your location, and jump in the opposite direction of the fire and wind. Stick together with your passengers and find the nearest shore and wait for emergency assistance.

Fire Prevention Tips

While knowing what to do in the event you’re in a boat fire can save lives, you’d like to avoid ever being in one, to begin with. Prevention is the best strategy, and you can do this by following these tips:

1. Always Maintain Your Boat Engine

Poor maintenance is behind many boat fires because owners don’t take the proper measures to ensure their engines are in working order. Worn engine parts and electrical connections can make the engine overheat, cause a battery fire or ignite your fuel source.

2. Perform Routine Inspections

Even if you’ve got perfect maintenance records, you should inspect your boat before every trip. Debris can get into your exhaust manifolds, and wires degrade with regular use. 

3. Purchase an Automatic Fire Extinguisher

While it’s not a replacement for a manual fire extinguisher, an automatic fire extinguisher can help you slow the spread of a fire or put it out before it becomes a danger to you and your guests. It detects a boat fire immediately and activates itself so that the fire is put out without human intervention.

4. Read Transport Canada’s Safety Guide

One of the best resources available is Transport Canada’s Safety Guide. It helps you learn how to reduce the risk of boat fires and other accidents, what to do if you’re involved in an accident and how to reach help in any emergency. This is a must-read for anyone who owns a boat.

Another thing you should consider is purchasing boat insurance. You can’t predict whether you will be involved in an accident, and having a policy can help protect you from significant financial losses due to damage or liability.

Stay Covered in an Emergency

Portside Marine Insurance can help you obtain affordable boat insurance so that you won’t need to worry about what happens to your finances if you’re involved in an accident or fire. If you’re in a boat fire and have a boat insurance policy, report it immediately to begin the claims process. Still looking for the right policy? Contact us today so we can review the best insurance options for you.

Safety Tips for Boating in the Summer

Safety Tips for Boating in the Summer

Summer is a great time to get outdoors, and many people love taking to the water to enjoy the warm weather. It’s important to take precautions when going out on the water just in case things don’t go as planned. From unexpected weather to encountering other boats or hazards on the water, you should plan ahead. This guide offers some important summer boating safety tips.

Preparing for the Trip

Whenever you’re planning a summer boating trip, you should be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. What you do before you take off from shore can decrease your risk of encountering any problems, to begin with. Here are some summer boating safety tips for planning your trip:

  • Always check the weather before you leave so that you’re not caught in hazardous conditions.
  • Inspect your boat before every trip so that you’re aware of any mechanical or structural problems.
  • Create a float plan and give it to someone you trust so that they can give it to authorities if something happens. A float plan should include vital information such as your boat description and license, where you plan to be and your intended return time. 

Essential Safety Equipment

If you don’t already have safety equipment, you should invest in it to prepare for unexpected situations. You should have the following gear whenever you’re on the water:

  • Personal flotation devices to reduce the risk of drowning.
  • Visual distress signals such as lights and flares to alert others during an emergency.
  • Sound devices that you can use to get the attention of other boats or people on the shore.

Safe Navigation Practices

Read the Safe Boating Guide before the start of boating season so that you’re aware of what regulations and laws you need to follow. When you’re operating your watercraft, keep in mind that it takes time for a boat to gain and lose speed. Don’t pilot your boat at unsafe speeds, or you may risk a collision or accident.

Stay on the lookout for any potential hazards in the water and use navigational aids to keep yourself aware of your location, surroundings and way back home.

Alcohol and Boating

It’s a popular pastime for people to enjoy alcohol on boating trips, but you shouldn’t ever operate a boat while under the influence. Before you leave, decide on a designated driver who knows how to operate the vessel.

This step won’t just protect you from potential accidents. It’s also the law. There is a zero-tolerance policy for boat operators who navigate while intoxicated, so choosing not to drink while operating a boat will protect you legally.

Passenger Safety

Your passengers may not have as much experience boating as you do, so it’s important to review boating safety procedures with them, such as wearing a life jacket and how to distribute weight across the vessel. For example, having too many passengers on one side of your boat could cause it to flip.

One way to prevent this is to make sure that you don’t bring more people along than you have seats available on your boat. Having people remain in their seats whenever possible can ensure even weight distribution.

Safe Water Activities

Regardless of what activities you plan to participate in, make sure you read the appropriate safety guides so that you take the right precautions. Swimming, diving and waterskiing are all activities that many people enjoy without incident, but you need to educate yourself on how to reduce your risk of danger and what to do if someone gets hurt on the water.

Make sure to review the guidelines on how to anchor and moor your boat correctly. Not doing so can result in you or your passengers becoming stranded if your boat drifts after you’ve departed it.

Emergency Preparedness

Even though you don’t want to imagine things going wrong, it’s important to be prepared. Make sure that your boat is equipped with a first aid kit, radio and distress signals so that you can perform first aid, signal other vessels when you’re in distress and make it to safety.

Another essential part of your emergency plan is making sure that you stick with your float plan. If you don’t arrive back at shore when you’ve told your contact you would, they should immediately alert authorities and have them search for your vessel. This greatly increases your chance of being found.

Weather and Environment

The weather is always changing, and even the best weather predictions can fall short. Even if you plan your trip using the latest weather reports, things can change. Take notice if you see dark clouds or lightning on the horizon and have a plan in place for how you can ride out a storm on the water.

You should also educate yourself on what environmental hazards are common in the area you plan to boat through. This helps you stay on the watch for physical hazards in the water that could capsize your boat or leave you stranded.

Have Boat Insurance in Place

Having boat insurance protects you while you’re out on the water. It doesn’t just help you pay for damage to your boat or another vessel but can cover you if you’re required to pay for someone else’s medical bills. If you ever need to file a claim, showing your insurance company that you’ve followed the other tips in this guide can help your case

Don’t have boat insurance yet? Contact us today at Portside Insurance so we can help you find a policy that suits your needs and keeps you covered this summer.

7 Benefits of Having Reliable Boat Insurance 

7 Benefits of Having Reliable Boat Insurance

 Securing dependable insurance can often be a challenging endeavour, be it for your home, car, or your beloved boat. Surprisingly, boat insurance is frequently overlooked, as individuals fail to grasp the significance of safeguarding themselves while venturing onto the water. In this comprehensive guide, we shed light on the seven remarkable advantages that come with acquiring reliable boat insurance. Spoiler alert: It’s just as important as your home and auto policies.

What is Boat Insurance?

Boat insurance is coverage for anyone who owns and operates a boat, whether for pleasure or business. The benefits of boat insurance are similar to having car insurance when hitting the road. If you purchase reliable insurance, you can save a lot of money if you ever find yourself in a situation where unexpected events strike and you suffer a personal injury, or your boat is damaged or destroyed.

Why is Boat Insurance Important?

Unlike auto insurance, boat insurance isn’t mandatory in Canada. Many people believe that it should be. Boat insurance is not just crucial for coverage during unexpected events, but it’s also a stipulation set by many marinas and lenders. Marinas require proof of insurance before they allow you to store your vessel, and lenders need this proof when you’re obtaining a loan for a new boat. 

Having insurance benefits you in the following ways:

1. Peace of Mind

Getting into an accident could not only cost you your boat, but it could put you at risk of being sued if you were at fault. Having reliable insurance ensures you’re covered regardless of whether you need to repair or replace your vessel or if you’re on the hook for someone else’s medical bills or boat damage. The peace of mind you get from having protection from these risks is invaluable.

2. Cost-Effective

If you think that you can put away some money on your own to protect yourself from a boating accident, you might want to think twice about it. If you’re at fault for an accident, it’s possible for you to be required to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more. Paying a monthly premium is a safe trade-off that could save you from emptying out your pockets.

3. Protection from Impact Damage

Impact damage on a boat can include contact with objects like shoals, rocks, deadheads, and other submerged items or collisions with other vessels and structures. Some accidents may simply leave unsightly dents behind, while others may render your watercraft inoperable. Having boat insurance allows you to be able to make the repairs needed to get back on the water quickly.

4. Protection from Theft

Boat insurance policies can have your back when it comes to thieves. This means that if your boat is stolen, you could file a claim to help replace it. In many cases, no amount of planning and saving can protect you from theft, so having boat insurance is an excellent way to protect your investment. Keep in mind that your claim may not be approved if you were careless in securing your vessel.

5. Covers You in the Event of a Physical Injury

If you’re injured in a boating accident, you may need to pay expensive medical bills during your recovery. Regardless of who’s at fault, you could be on the hook if neither party has boat insurance. Your boat insurance can include coverage for your own injuries and those of your passengers.

If you have reliable health coverage, remember that it could have limits, and boat insurance can cover the difference. Keep in mind that your health insurance doesn’t cover any passengers in the boat, so you need to consider whether you’re able to pay for their medical needs in the event of an accident.

6. Protection in Other Unforeseen Circumstances

There is a lot that can go wrong in life, especially on the water. For example, you could be in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you’re on the lake when a severe storm hits, you could lose your boat before the storm passes. Insurance coverage allows you to replace what’s lost, just like if you were insuring a vehicle on land.

7. Can Cover You if You’re Found Liable in an Accident

Personal liability for a boating accident can significantly threaten your financial independence. If you’re found liable for a boating accident, the victim may sue you for damages. If you’re unable to pay from your savings, you could lose your assets to pay the judgment against you. Having boat insurance can ensure you’re able to settle with the other party without losing your home or savings.

How to Tell if You Have Reliable Boat Insurance

How do you know if your boat insurance coverage is enough to protect you? The following tips can ensure you receive the best possible coverage.

  • Work with an insurance broker who specializes in boat coverage. Not only will your broker be able to get you multiple quotes from leading insurance companies, but they will also know the ins and outs of the industry. This ensures you get a great deal.
  • Work with a broker that takes the time to answer your questions, guides you through the process and gives you options customized to your needs and concerns.
  • Make sure your policy includes liability coverage, as this is the most critical type of insurance coverage you need.
  • Read the exclusions to make sure that you’re still covered in the event of theft, storm damage or personal injury.
  • Look for a policy that allows you to add comprehensive coverage so you can repair your own boat or be insured for the “extras.”

Get Reliable Insurance with Portside Marine Insurance

At Portside Insurance, we take the time to collaborate with our clients and put together boat insurance policies that reflect their needs and budget. Insurance is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

Want to find the best deal on the boat insurance coverage you need? Contact us today so we can learn more about your needs and budget. We’ll get to work on finding you the best coverage available.

Five Tips on How to Get the Best Boat Insurance in Ontario

Five Tips on How to Get the Best Boat Insurance in Ontario

If you’re a boat owner in Ontario looking for the best insurance coverage to protect your investment, having the proper techniques under your belt when you’re shopping is essential. Whether you’re a seasoned boater or just starting out, it’s crucial to have insurance that will cover you in case of an accident or damage to your watercraft. But with so many options out there, it can be tough to know where to start.

We put together a guide with tips on how to get the best boat insurance in Ontario, covering everything from understanding your coverage options and the factors that affect your premium to getting quotes and working with the right experts.

1. Know Your Coverage Options

When it comes to boat insurance in Ontario, there are different options available to protect your investment. Understanding these choices is crucial to selecting the right one for your needs.

Most policies offer the following coverages and have customizations and add-ons:

  • Collision coverage: Covers damage to your boat in case of a collision with another vessel or object.
  • Liability: This can protect you if you’re found responsible for injuring someone or damaging their property while using your boat.
  • Comprehensive coverage: This covers non-collision incidents like theft, vandalism, or weather-related damage. This can also include emergency services, such as towing.
  • Other coverage: Other options may be available to add to your policy, like personal property coverage.

It’s essential to select the right coverage for your needs and budget. For example, if you keep many high-valuable items in your boat, personal property coverage may be a priority add-on.

2. Understand the Factors that Affect Your Premium

Understanding the factors that affect your boat insurance premium in Ontario can help you make informed decisions when shopping for coverage. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Boat type: The type of boat you own can impact your insurance premium. Generally, larger and more powerful vessels cost more to insure than smaller ones.
  • Use purposes: The purpose of your boat use can impact how much you’ll pay in premiums. For example, you may face higher rates if you use your watercraft for commercial purposes.
  • Location: Local weather conditions and location-specific boating trends, like incident frequencies and crime rates, can affect your insurance rates.
  • Additional features: Other onboard features, like GPS devices, depth finders, and alarm systems, can reduce your insurance rates.
  • Claims history: If you have a paper trail of making claims on your boat insurance policy, you may face higher premiums.

Consider these factors when shopping for the best boat insurance in Ontario. If you’re getting quotes from different insurers, try to provide precise and detailed information about your boat, usage, and location. By doing so, you can get a more accurate picture of the insurance cost for your specific situation.

3. Get a Quote

Getting a quote is essential to understand the various boat insurance rates available. These estimates allow you to compare insurance coverage and pricing from different insurers. This can help you find the policy that offers the optimal value for your money. Additionally, getting a quote can give you a better idea of what to expect in terms of costs. Here are some tips to keep in mind when seeking estimates:

  • Provide detailed information about your situation, keeping in mind the factors that impact insurance premiums, as discussed above.
  • Ask questions — this can include asking about specific coverage, potential discounts, and the claims process.

4. Maintain a Good Boating Record

If you have a clean record, insurers will see you as “lower risk,” which often results in lower premiums. No claims or accidents in your name demonstrate that you’re a responsible boater and less likely to file a claim. Therefore, maintaining a good boating record can help you get the best boat insurance in Ontario. Here are some tips for safe boating:

  • Consider taking boating safety courses.
  • Check the weather conditions and water levels before setting sail.
  • Maintain and inspect your boat regularly.
  • Avoid operating your vessel under the influence.
  • Ensure you and all passengers wear proper safety gear, like life jackets.
  • Have a float plan and tell someone your intended route, destination, and estimated return time.

If you are involved in an accident or have to make a claim, reporting it as soon as possible is essential.

5. Work with an Experienced Insurance Broker

At Portside Marine Insurance, we work closely with local insurance brokers to help you get the policy you need for a stress-free boating experience. Enlisting the help of an experienced insurance broker who specializes in boat insurance can be highly beneficial. Here’s why:

  • They have a wealth of knowledge: Brokers specializing in boat insurance know the ins and outs of both the insurance and boating industries. They can help you navigate this complex world, understand your coverage options, and find the best policy for your needs and budget.
  • They offer personalized service: Brokers find the best options on your behalf. You can save time on personal research because they will make an effort to understand your situation and find policies that suit your unique needs.

When selecting an insurance broker, look for someone licensed with a good reputation. Consider asking for referrals from friends, family, or other boat owners. Additionally, ensure these experts have experience working with boat owners and understand the unique insurance needs of this industry. Insurance brokers that don’t specialize in boat policies may offer bundling options without the expertise to ensure you’re covered for all unique and complex scenarios.

Find the Best Boat Insurance in Ontario

While boat insurance is not legally required in Ontario, it’s essential for any watercraft owner because it provides peace of mind and coverage for accidents, theft, or other unexpected events. You can find the best policies for your unique circumstances by following these tips.

At Portside Marine Insurance, we offer customizable boat insurance policies to help you protect your precious investment. Get a quote or contact us today to get started and explore your options.

Common Types of Boat Claims in Winter

Common Types of Boat Claims in Winter

Even though you likely won’t spend time cruising on your boat during the cold Canadian winter months, you may not realize that there are winter risks that still require proper coverage to protect your investment. As a boat owner, it’s crucial to be aware of common boat insurance claims to help you prepare for unforeseen circumstances. Let’s explore these in more detail.

Why Boating Insurance is Important in the Winter

Boat insurance is essential throughout the year. Some risks and hazards in winter differ from those in the summer, leading to potential damages and losses. For example, winter weather conditions, like snow, hail, and ice, can cause significant damage to your watercraft, even if stored in a secure location. 

Many marinas and storage facilities require boat owners to have insurance coverage before allowing them to dock or store their boats on their premises. Insurance coverage can bring you peace of mind, knowing you have protection against financial losses that may arise from incidents during the winter that may be out of your control.

6 Common Types of Boat Insurance Claims in the Winter

While most bodies of water are frozen during Canadian winters, some locations near the coast may prolong the season. If you happen to be out on the water during these traditionally colder months, you’re exposed to similar risks as in the summer. Many of the following common boat insurance claims apply specifically to watercraft hauled out for the season. Keep in mind that not all insurance companies will cover these claims, so it’s essential to check with them first before you submit:

1. Impact Damage

One of the most common boat insurance claims all-year round is impact damage caused by factors like rocks, deadheads, shoals, and other submerged objects. In areas of the country where boating can happen in the winter, you’re at risk of colliding with these objects, especially if there’s poor visibility and lots of debris from storms. No matter what season, it’s important to exercise caution when navigating waters and always keep a lookout for potential hazards.

2. Theft

Boats can be targets for theft, especially during the winter when they’re not in use. Thieves can steal specific parts or the entire vessel without proper security measures.

3. Vandalism

Watercraft stored in isolated or unsecured locations may also be vulnerable to vandalism. This includes graffiti, broken windows, and other acts that cause damage to the boat.

4. Fire

While uncommon, boats can catch fire during the winter for various reasons, including electrical issues, fuel leaks, or improper storage of flammable materials. Keep in mind that if you store your watercraft in an enclosed location, never use open flames nearby and ensure you remove all fuel or propane tanks before leaving it out of site for the season.

5. Freezing or Flood Damage

Boats that are not properly winterized can experience damage from freezing temperatures, ice, or heavy snow. The potential consequences of these events can include split pipes and cracked engine blocks. Additionally, melting snow or ice can lead to flooding and further issues for the structural integrity of your vessel. 

It’s important to note that many boat policies exclude damage due to freezing, but it’s always a good idea to check with your insurance company for verification. Even then, you’ll likely need proof that you correctly winterized your boat for your claim to be successful.

6. Pest Damage

Boats stored in outdoor areas may be at risk for damage from rodents, birds, and other animals. This can include chewing through wires, nests made in engine compartments, or holes punctured in upholstery. During the winter, animals like mice or squirrels often look for warm shelters and may use your boat as an ideal nesting spot. Some steps to prevent critter damage include the following:

  • Store your watercraft in a location that’s less accessible to animals, like a secure indoor storage facility
  • Place traps or use repellents to keep animals away from the boat
  • Remove all food and trash from the vessel before storing it for the winter
  • Seal all openings or cracks and use tarps and covers to prevent pests from entering

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if my boat is damaged in the winter?

The first thing you should do is take steps to prevent further damage or loss. This may include moving the boat or covering it with more protective barriers. Then, contact your insurance provider to report the damage and begin the claims process. Keep in mind that not all situations are eligible for protection, so ensure you understand your unique policy limitations.

Do I need a separate winter insurance policy?

No, you do not need a separate insurance policy for the winter. However, reviewing your current coverage is vital to ensure it protects you from specific risks and hazards of the winter season.

How can I prevent my boat from winter damage?

Proper winterization and preventative measures are crucial to avoiding damage to your boat during winter. This includes draining the water systems, storing the vessel in a secure location, covering it properly, and maintaining the watercraft’s equipment and systems. Insurance providers are more likely to accept a claim if you can prove that you’ve done everything you can to prevent incidents in the winter.

Protect Your Watercraft with Boat Insurance

At Portside Marine Insurance, we have various customizable boat insurance policies to suit your budget and cruising style. If you want to learn more about our policies or need more information about insurance coverage in the winter, contact us today.

How Does Inflation Impact My Insurance?

How Does Inflation Impact My Insurance?

As a boat owner, you may have noticed the increased cost of parts, fuel, maintenance, repairs, and even the entire vessel itself. This is likely due to inflation, an economic situation leading to higher living costs.

As inflation increases, so can the cost of boat insurance. This can significantly impact your premiums, coverage, and how much you must pay out of pocket. With that said, let’s take a closer look at the impact of inflation on insurance and what you can do to mitigate these concerns, so you can continue enjoying your time on the water.

What is Inflation?

Inflation measures the average increase in the prices of goods and services. This rise in prices goes hand-in-hand with declined consumer purchasing power. In other words, more inflation means our currency has less value and decreases the number of goods or services we can purchase. Rising prices can happen for various reasons, including higher production costs, increased demand, and changes in the money supply.

The Situation in Canada

The cost of living is rising in our country — we see it in the prices of groceries, gas, and other goods and services. Inflation in Canada impacts the boating industry in combination with other trends, like environmental changes and the pandemic. Here’s how: 

  • Since Canadians could not travel during the pandemic, they spent more of their vacation time on the water, which led to an increase in the total number of claims, especially by new boaters with a lack of experience.
  • Climate change is leading to more extreme weather patterns and natural disasters. This trend impacts insurance because the increase in weather-related claims makes it more expensive for insurers. In an attempt to balance these expenses, they may raise their premiums. 
  • Inflation itself increases the cost of repair services and boat replacement parts. This leads to more expensive claims, which may raise insurance providers’ premiums.

These current trends influence pricing and coverage amounts on your policy. Let’s look at why this is the case in more detail.

What is the Impact of Inflation on My Insurance?

Inflation can affect your boat insurance policy in different ways. Mainly, it impacts your costs, like insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. If you’re looking for a new boat insurance policy or currently have one, here are some ways inflation in Canada can impact your coverage:

1. Premiums for New Policies Can Get More Expensive

As prices increase over time, so will insurance products and services. For example, inflation may lead to rising costs of repairs and replacements, which means that boat insurance premiums may become more expensive when you take out a new policy. These higher rates ensure insurance companies can cover the higher volume and cost of claims.

2. Potential for Insufficient Coverage Limits

Most insurance companies have coverage limits. This limit is the maximum amount they’ll pay out in case of a claim. As inflation increases the cost of goods and services, it raises the price for repair and replacement — professional services cost more, and so do boat parts. This means that your current policy limits may not be sufficient enough to cover these costs in full, resulting in the potential of you paying more out of pocket. 

3. Increased Difficulty Paying Deductibles

Your insurance deductible is the amount you’re responsible for paying before your insurance company covers the rest of a claim. In times with rising costs of living, these deductibles can become less affordable to shoulder out of pocket as your budget gets tighter. If you find yourself in this situation while submitting a claim, this might mean that you’ll have to wait to file it until you’ve gathered the money to pay your deductible. 

How to Deal with the Impact of Inflation on Insurance

With increasing costs impacting your insurance, there are a few things you can do to mitigate this impact and save money. For example:

Find a Marine Insurance Brokerage

You can ensure you get the best boat insurance policies and prices by specifically seeking out brokerages that specialize in marine insurance. Speaking to these experts can give you peace of mind knowing that your coverage options are tailored to your needs by people who know the ins and outs of the industry.

Review Your Coverage Regularly

Regular reviews of your boat insurance coverage can ensure it still meets your needs and provides adequate protection for your vessel throughout the year. This is an opportunity to make adjustments and remove certain parts of your policy, if necessary.

Save for Emergencies

As mentioned above, inflation can lead to higher expenses paid out of pocket. For this reason, if you’re able to, build up a savings buffer to help you prepare for unexpected costs related to your insurance coverage.

Consider Inflation-Protected Policies

Some insurance companies offer inflation-protected policies which automatically adjust to changes in the cost of living. The purpose of these specialized policies is to ensure the value of your coverage does not erode over time because of increased prices. 

Adjust Coverage Limits and Deductibles

If you have an existing policy, you can reduce the impact of inflation by adjusting your coverage limits and deductibles. For example, increasing your deductible can decrease your premiums, but keep in mind that you’ll have to pay more out-of-pocket if you have to make a claim.

Customizable Boat Coverage Options for You

At Portside Marine Insurance, we understand that inflation can significantly impact the type of protection you can afford. That’s why we offer customizable coverage options to help you mitigate the impact of the rising cost of living while still being able to enjoy your time on the water. If you’re concerned about how inflation might impact your existing or future policies, we’re here to help. Get a quote or contact us today to learn more about how we can make your boat insurance work for your needs.

5 Common Boating Insurance Claims

5 Common Boating Insurance Claims

We can’t think of a better pastime than breathing in the fresh outdoor air while riding the waves in your watercraft. However, as with any outdoor activity, there can be risks involved. Having the right insurance coverage can give you peace of mind and protect you from financial loss in the event of an accident or incident. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at common boat insurance claims and provide some advice on what you can do to prevent them. 

Hitting an Object in the Water

One of the most common boating insurance claims is damage caused by hitting floating or submerged objects in the water. These objects can include logs, rocks, and other debris and can especially be a problem in low-visibility conditions and shallow water. While running into these objects can lead to minor scars on your watercraft, it can also cause mechanical failure, damage to the hull and propellers, or even sinking. 

Even the most experienced boaters may run into this issue because floating or submerged rocks and logs can be challenging to locate. To prevent hitting these the next time you set sail, ensure you do the following:

  • Do your research before heading out: Research or ask around to find out if any known areas on the lake or body of water have lots of debris or objects. This way, you can stay clear of these spots.
  • Go boating with another person: Sometimes, catching everything with one set of eyes can be challenging. Bringing a second person with you can help point out anything in your path while you drive.
  • Get a marine radar: These are valuable tools that detect objects around you. They send out a radio wave and bounce back when it hits an object, giving you a rough estimate of where it is relative to your position.
  • Go slow in unfamiliar water: If you’re trying out a new spot, go slower than you usually would. This practice simply allows you to keep a closer eye on any objects that may obstruct your path.

Damage from the Dock

Damage from docking can happen to anyone, whether you come to shore during a strong wind storm or simply miscalculate your incoming speed on a calm day. If the force is great enough, you may see structural damage, like a hole in the hull, destruction to electrical wiring, or a bent propeller. Here are some ways you can prevent this incident from occurring:

  • Use bumpers or fenders to absorb the impact
  • Use a boat cover at your storage facility to cushion any movement
  • Practice docking in calm conditions before attempting in more intense weather

Weather-Related Damage

During boating season, extreme conditions like high winds, lightning, hail or heavy rain storms can shake up your watercraft, whether you’re out on the water or your vessel is tied to a dock. Weather-related damage can range from minor scratches to body destruction. 

If you live in a particularly stormy area or know one is coming in the forecast, double-check that your boat is secured and covered. To avoid mishaps while on the water, check the forecast before you head out, including wind speeds, wave height, and any signs of storms. As a general rule of thumb, try to wait out the bad weather for the safety of you and your vessel.

Keep in mind that even during the off-season, you must protect your boat during the cold Canadian winters. Here are some situations that could lead to damage and insurance claims:

  • Improper boat covering: If you don’t protect your boat with a custom, quality cover, snow and ice can accumulate, and water can pool inside. Additionally, not allowing enough ventilation can cause mould growth.
  • Not draining the engine of water: Frozen or cracked engine blocks can happen due to improper winterizing practices. To prevent this, after draining, add antifreeze.
  • Storing your boat in the water: When water freezes around a vessel left in the water, the ice can grind against the hull and even crack and sink it. Ensure that your boat is entirely out of the water or stored on dry land to avoid this.

Theft

Theft of boats and belongings is also among common boating insurance claims. While not all thefts are predictable or preventable, your storage practices and security measures play a massive role in keeping your vessel safe. Here are some tips to help you prevent theft:

  • Lock your boat, including the steering wheel, and use heavy-duty locks on your outboard motor.
  • Install motion detectors and GPS tracking systems (At Portside Marine Insurance, we even offer a 10% discount on insurance for boats that have a GPS tracking system)
  • Store your watercraft in a secure place, such as behind a locked gate or in a trusted storage facility.
  • Detach outboard engines and store these indoors in a secure place.
  • If you store your boat at home or on a driveway, block it in with another vehicle or obstacle.
  • Keep an inventory of items on your boat so it’s easier to identify anything missing. 

Collisions

Collisions with other vessels can cause more significant damage than when you hit fixed, submerged, or floating objects. This type of claim can be especially common in crowded boating areas like lakes and rivers. Accidents like this can happen if:

  • Operators on board are inexperienced or negligent while driving the boat.
  • Your vessel experiences a mechanical failure that’s out of your control, causing the inability to stop or steer in time.
  • You’re not paying attention to your surroundings.
  • You operate your watercraft at an unsafe speed. Pay attention to any posted speed regulations and use your judgment to ensure you’re not driving faster than you can react.
  • You drive while under the influence. Remember, this is both illegal and can cause severe injury or even death.

Helping You Get the Coverage You Need

At Portside Marine Insurance, we understand that accidents happen. That’s why we offer comprehensive coverage plans for your peace of mind so that you can continue enjoying your time on the water. If you’re ready to explore policies or need more advice on boat insurance claims, contact us today!