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.


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.

What to Do During a Boating Accident?

Damaged boat sinking in the water.

When was the last time you had to deal with a boating accident? If you haven’t experienced such a situation, you probably don’t realize how serious these circumstances can be. When boaters get into trouble, they often panic. They might even try to bail out or swim to shore without thinking things through. This is dangerous because it could result in a severe injury or even death. In some cases, boaters who don’t know how to handle emergencies end up sinking their vessels by accident.

It is crucial to understand the measures that must be taken when facing such a situation. Having basic knowledge during a boating accident could save your life and those around you. Your actions and understanding can also help determine whether you can claim compensation or not. In the following article, we have detailed the steps you should take when such an accident occurs. 

What is a Boating Accident? 

Not everyone is aware of what is considered a boating accident. In simple terms, if there is significant property damage, a missing person, or an individual that has been injured, it is considered a boating accident. Here are some scenarios that can be categorized as such: 

  • Colliding with another boat. 
  • Hitting a stationary object 
  • Flooding
  • Sailing into rocks or reefs, causing damage to the bottom of the boat
  • An individual falling overboard

Stop the Boat

In the case of a boating accident, the boat operator must stop as soon as possible to assess the situation. They should immediately check to ensure that they and nobody else onboard is hurt. The operator must inspect the vessel to determine whether damage has been done to the hull that could compromise safety or seaworthiness.

Aid Individuals Who Need Medical Attention 

In a boating accident, as noted above, your top priority should be finding those needing medical attention. Before assessing others, check yourself for injuries. If immediate attention is required, get help as soon as possible. Ensure those around you are wearing life jackets, including yourself. You should also call emergency services, especially if you think there is a risk to life. Please note that it’s important to get examined by a paramedic regardless of whether symptoms visible or not, as you may have delayed signs. It is vital for you to understand the extent of your injuries. To ensure you stay prepared in case of such an emergency, invest in a VHF radio. 

Get Information About the Accident 

After assessing passengers that need medical attention, you will then need to understand the accident. You should collect all available information and details surrounding the event. Gathering eyewitness statements are  in addition to talking to the operators of any nearby boats involved in the accident.

Here are some pieces of information to collect and ask from those involved in the accident. 

  • Ask for names, addresses, and details surrounding the incident from those on the boat. 
  • Get the insurance company name of the boat operators, in addition to the make and model of the vessel.
  • Talk to anyone who may have seen the boat crash, and ask for their names and contact information. 
  • Record the accident’s location, when the accident occurred, and any damages seen. 
  • Document who has been injured on the boat. 
  • Try to take photos of the boat and the damages it may have sustained.
  • Take notes of everything you remember surrounding the boating accident. 

Reach Out to Your Insurance Company and (if Applicable) File a Personal Injury Claim

Collecting information is crucial as it can help if you decide to go to court or an insurance company. When you choose to take either step, evidence must be presented to demonstrate who is at fault before damages can be claimed. When you are in court you will need to prove: 

  • That the operator not at fault was in charge to ensure you were safe. 
  • The operator, if at fault, acted negligently and therefore caused the accident. 
  • Your injuries were caused by the accident. 

Comparative fault laws should also be taken into consideration when filing a personal injury claim. If you were at fault for the accident, your claim could be lowered. Remember, there are some provinces where compensation can be renounced if evidence is presented showing that you provoked 1% of your injuries. Other provinces will allow compensation if another individual or operator is more to blame than you. Furthermore, if you are not the only party to blame, you may still be eligible for insurance coverage. Finally, get an inspection done on your boat, even if you believe the damages are minor. 

Call a Lawyer 

When deciding on taking the boating accident to court, you must call a lawyer. Though a personal injury lawyer can represent you well, they may not have the knowledge as an expert in the field. This is why it is advisable to call a boating accident lawyer who can inform you adequately and tell you what to do when you are involved in such a situation. 

Remember that when you are injured due to boater negligence, you have the right to claim compensation. If you are partially at fault for the accident, a lawyer will help defend your case against the allegations you face. Unfortunately, numerous people will not seek legal advice because they are worried about the cost. There are many lawyers that will offer a free consultation, and some will not charge unless you win. 

Getting into a boating accident can be traumatizing. When faced with such a situation, some steps should be taken for your safety and benefit. One of these essential steps is gathering information to help in claim boating insurance. We know from first-hand experience how essential this is for boaters. To learn more about our policy options or to discuss your coverage regarding your boat, reach out to us or request a quote today. We’re happy to assist!