How to get your Boating License in British Columbia


Anyone who has visited British Columbia has seen the stunning natural beauty of its coastline and lakes. It is the perfect spot to go boating, with locals and visitors alike enjoying endless days on the water. Speed boats, sailboats, jet skis, kayaks, and paddleboards all fill the waterways, it’s a boating paradise for everyone.

Looking to join in on the action, then you will need to get your BC boating license or Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) as they also call it. Good news! This is a one-time thing and your boating license never expires or needs to be renewed. You can get your boating license in just a few easy steps and go boating today!

Reasons to Get Your Boating License

One of the main reasons to get your Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) in British Columbia is that it’s the law. Anyone operating a boat in British Columbia or any province in Canada is required to have proof of competency which is the PCOC.

You won’t regret getting your boating license as the information you will study in the online course will help you understand the rules of the water and make you more confident when operating a boat.

Step 1: Finding a Boating License Provider

The first thing you want to do is choose a boating license provider that is Transport Canada-approved. Otherwise, all your studying will be for nothing unless the company has been accredited by Transport Canada.

Once you have chosen a provider, you will want to register to take their online boating safety course. The boating safety course generally takes a minimum of 3 hours to complete, this is the mandatory minimum study time set by Transport Canada. 

The course is broken up into 5 chapters with a small multiple-choice quiz at the end of each chapter.  You have up to one year to complete the course from once you have registered, so there is no rush – you can log in and out of the course and your progress will be saved.


Step 2: Take the Exam

After you have completed the course, it’s then time to take the online Transport Canada Pleasure Craft Operator Card exam.

The exam consists of 50 multiple-choice questions and you must get 38 out of 50 correct to pass the exam (78%). It is an open-book exam so you can always refer back to the course if you get stuck.

Don’t worry if you fail, you can retake the exam free of charge. If you fail the exam for the first time, you must wait for 24 hours before attempting to retake the exam again. Keep in mind that if you do fail the exam a second time, Transport Canada requires you to retake the boating safety course again (at no extra cost) before attempting the exam for the third time.

Step 3: Getting a Temporary Card

Once you have passed the Transport Canada exam you will immediately be able to print your temporary Pleasure Craft Operator Card at home and go boating straight away. This temporary PCOC, which is valid for 60days, allows you to get out on the water while waiting for your permanent PCOC to arrive in the mail. Make sure to keep this temporary PCOC with you while out on the water.

The boating license provider will mail out your permanent Pleasure Craft Operator Card to you within 1 week. Make sure whenever you are boating that you have your PCOC on board. The fine in British Columbia for not having a Pleasure Craft Operator card on you while operating a boat is $250.


Hopefully this helps you understand the pretty simple process of getting your boating license in British Columbia.  Good luck and hopefully we will see you out on the water one of these days, enjoying the warm weather.

Don’t forget you are going to want to make sure you have boat insurance to protect your investment and ensure you get to create plenty of happy memories out on the water.

Click here to get a competitive quote with us that will give you peace of mind on the water.

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.


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.

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.

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 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 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!

Nine Factors that Influence Your Boat Insurance Rates

Nine Factors that Influence Your Boat Insurance Rates

Just like a home or car, a watercraft is an investment that should be protected with insurance. Understanding what factors impact your boat insurance rates is helpful to ensure you get the most comprehensive coverage and the best deals. Keep in mind that the points outlined below vary depending on the provider, and it is always best to speak with them to see which variables they consider when determining your premiums.

Why Do I Need Boat Insurance?

While you do not require boat insurance by law in Canada, there are many reasons to have a policy. The main reason is to have peace of mind. Most people don’t have the resources to pay for a multi-million dollar claim out of pocket. Boat insurance ensures protection in a liability claim and coverage for your investment in unforeseen circumstances, such as theft, fire, vermin, vandalism, and collision. Additionally, marinas may require proof of insurance if you intend to store your vessel there. Lenders also often need this if you finance your watercraft. 

Factors that Affect Your Boat Insurance Rates

The Type of Vessel You Have

There are many types of boats out there, including the following:

  • Rowboats
  • Sailboats
  • Cuddy Cruisers
  • Express Cruisers
  • Fishing Boats
  • Jet boats
  • Bass Boats
  • Pontoons
  • Yachts
  • Personal Watercrafts 

The type of boat you have can impact your premiums. Small cuddy cruisers, for example, are less expensive to insure than yachts because they are less complex and have a lower risk profile. Your vessel’s make, model, year, and horsepower also affect your rates. 

Additional Features on Board

Extra features like GPS systems, emergency locator beacons, depth finders, radars, and alarm systems can lower your premiums. At Portside Marine Insurance, we offer a 10% discount for all boats with a GPS tracking device.

Your Experience and Age

If you have years of boating experience, especially with the particular vessel you want to insure, this can pay off when it comes to finding the best deals on marine policies. On the other hand, you may face higher prices if you are newer to boating with limited experience.

How You Use Your Boat

Do you intend on zipping around in a speedboat, taking your family out for fishing adventures, going for a casual cruise on the lake, or using your vessel for commercial purposes? How you intend to use your watercraft influences your insurance costs. Each circumstance is unique, but as a general rule of thumb, the less risky your intentions, like a calm leisure day out on the lake, make your boat less expensive to insure than worldly expeditions.

The Value of Your Watercraft

The amount your boat is worth impacts the price of your coverage. An expensive million-dollar yacht, for example, will likely cost more to insure than a small Seadoo or Kawasaki jet ski.

Education and Training

Some insurance companies may provide discounts if you complete specific training courses. The intention here is to ensure you have the proper knowledge to operate your watercraft which, in theory, reduces the likelihood of claims. Check with your provider to see which approved courses may qualify, but remember that not everyone will offer these deals.

Your Choice of Coverage

The most basic policies usually have lower boat insurance rates. You can get add-ons for your accessories, special equipment, personal belongings, and towing for more comprehensive coverage if not already included. 

Previous Claims

Numerous claims on a watercraft in the past may affect your rates, just like with your car insurance. Brokers like to see a claims-free history because this can predict the lower likelihood and frequency of incidents in the future.

The Deductible

A deductible is an amount you are responsible for paying in the event of a claim before your insurance covers the rest. Agreeing on a higher deductible can lower your rates. Keep in mind that if you do this, while you may save money each month on premiums, you could face higher costs out of pocket in the event your vessel sustains any kind of damage.

Finding the Right Policy for You

When finding the right policy, it is important to understand the different types of coverage and what you need for your unique circumstances. The above factors can help you determine which variables are most relevant to you, so you know what to discuss with your insurance provider. 

Additionally, shop around to ensure you get the best prices and speak directly with providers specializing in watercraft policies. They understand the details that are relevant to insuring these vessels and can provide you added peace of mind.
Portside Marine Insurance offers boat policies suitable for your distinct needs. Contact us to learn more about how you can get the best rates and the most comprehensive coverage with us.

Do I Need Small Boat Insurance?

Do I Need Small Boat Insurance?

Summer is the season to enjoy outdoor adventures, including water-based activities. During these months, many people will take advantage of the hot weather and engage in watersports such as boating, sailing, and canoeing. One popular pastime amongst those participating in watersports is enjoying a day outside by taking their small boat out for a spin. Before buying such a vessel, however, it is imperative to determine whether or not it is covered under your insurance. To help, here are several key factors about small boat insurance to bear in mind.

Why Do You Need Small Boat Insurance? 

No matter how careful we are, unfortunately, accidents can occur. For example, there are risks of theft when it comes to your boat’s equipment, accessories, personal belongings, and onboard sports equipment. Furthermore, there is the possibility of infestation and vandalism. Based on the type of small boat you have, you might face mechanical issues as well, such as your engine not starting. These issues can become costly, depending on the extent of the damage or repairs required.

Small boat insurance can alleviate some financial stress and protect you against unforeseen accidents. You can enjoy your aquatic adventures safely wherever you are on the water. For example, liability coverage will help to protect you if you accidentally cause harm to someone. It will also cover you if you damage their property while operating your  watercraft.

What Does Small Boat Insurance Cover? 

Depending on your coverage, insurance on small boats can vary. Generally, however, the following will be included:   

Emergency Towing

Consider the following scenario: you are travelling on your small boat when suddenly your engine fails. Emergency towing coverage will pay for the costs of towing, fuel delivery, or any emergency services that may be required on the spot. Furthermore, some insurance companies may provide full reimbursement for hotels and temporary stays if you file a claim. 

Agreed Value Coverage

A boat is a significant investment. As a result, if an accident were to occur, many owners would understandably not want to receive less than the value of their property. To protect you against depreciation, we offer agreed value coverage for most types of vessels. This will ensure that in the event of a total loss, your boat will be covered for its full value. As the term implies, this value is mutually agreed upon when signing up. 

Replacement Parts

Replacing old boat parts with new ones can be expensive. Thankfully, your insurance may cover replacement parts without you having to worry about additional payments. 

What Factors will Determine the Price of Insurance? 

There are several factors that influence the final cost of the insurance for your small boat. These include the following, 

Type of Boat

When it comes to the cost of your insurance, the brand, size, and performance capabilities of your vessel should be taken into account. For example, faster boats are more expensive to insure as they are more likely to become damaged during an accident. An inboard engine can cost more than an outboard engine due to the extra maintenance costs associated with them. Used boats may be cheaper than new ones, but they could be more prone to damages if not properly maintained. Remember to inspect the type of boat you’re purchasing before making the investment. 

Your Boating Experience

Education and proper training on how to pilot and maintain your boat can help to keep insurance costs under control. The more experienced you are, especially when it comes to more complex vessels like sailboats, the more confident your insurance provider will be in your capabilities. This is because such a boater would pose a lower risk through demonstrated experience, a solid track record, and sound knowledge of best practices.

Insurance Claim History

If you have been in many boating accidents and made claims on your insurance, your rates will increase. It is common for insurance providers to conduct background checks, and that will include verifying whether you’ve filed claims through other insurance companies in the past. 

It is crucial that you insure your small boat before you take it out on the water. Reduce your financial stress and ensure that you are protected against unforeseen events. To learn more about our policy options or to discuss your coverage needs, reach out to us or request a quote today. We’re happy to assist!  

Do You Need Insurance for a Seadoo in Ontario?

Do You Need Insurance for a Seadoo in Ontario

Do You Need Insurance for a Seadoo in Ontario?

Is the thought of taking to the water, skimming waves, and feeling the wind’s relief amidst the summer heat something that excites you? This is how many personal watercraft owners feel, and rightly so. That said, when considering purchasing a personal watercraft like this, do Seadoos need insurance, or is it simply a nice-to-have? 

Today, let’s explore if you need insurance for Seadoos, Kawasaki or Yamaha jet skis in more detail. We’ll highlight the importance and general best practices, as well as issues that could arise that justify having an active policy.

Seadoo Insurance Fundamentals

To start, let’s answer some commonly asked questions about insurance for Seadoos, Kawasaki or Yamaha jet ski:

Is Seadoo Insurance Required in Ontario?

For Seadoos, Kawasaki and Yamaha watercrafts registered in the province of Ontario, boating insurance is not required by law. However, if you choose not to have an active insurance policy for your vessel, you leave yourself vulnerable to considerable financial stress if an accident, breakdown, or other related mishap occurs. This is especially risky if you cause an accident with another boater and don’t have liability coverage, which would result in you being entirely responsible for damages out of your own pocket.

What Should a Seadoo Insurance Plan Cover?

Depending on the insurance provider you choose, you may be able to select either a fully customizable package – an option that provides added value that ensures you have the policy elements that you need – or one of several pre-set alternatives. Regardless of your choice, there are three components that you should ensure are included. These include the following:

Theft and Agreed Value

Theft and agreed value protection, covers you in the event of theft of the vessel or even personal items stored onboard. The agreed value element, as the term implies, ensures that the value of your Seadoos, Kawasaki and Yamaha will not depreciate. We at Portside Marine Insurance offer agreed value coverage for 15 years.

Ingestion and Damage

Seadoos, Kawasaki and Yamaha watercrafts require regular maintenance to remain efficient and handled correctly. However, due to their general design that relies on water pressure to move, there’s a risk of ingesting debris that could clog the jet propulsion system. Ingestion and damage coverage can take care of expenses related to repairs. This coverage also provides reimbursement for damages sustained in an accident, and we ensure that you don’t need to worry about betterment fees for new parts. 

Emergency Towing

Nobody wants to be stranded out on a lake or river in a Seadoo of all things, fully exposed to the elements. If you run into a mechanical mishap or require towing, your coverage can provide reimbursement for the required services. This is an important policy element to have, as it ensures that you don’t need to get additional coverage somewhere else for towing or recovery.

What’s the Cost of Insuring a Seadoo?

When insuring a Seadoo, Kawasaki or Yamaha jet ski in Ontario, the approximate cost will depend on several factors. Chief among them is your own background. If you are a high-risk boater with a history of several insurance claims and a bad record, for instance, then the rate will be much higher. Other factors include the condition of your vessel and its manufacturing year. 

What Does an Insurer Need to Know About My Seadoo?

Should you decide to insure your Seadoos, Kawasaki and Yamaha, there are several important factors that need to be given to the provider. These include the length, vessel type, approximate value, intended use case and the frequency of said use, your boating experience, the condition of the vessel, and more. You also need to factor in whether you will have coverage active for when the Seadoo, Kawasaki or Yamaha watercraft is being stored at home or transported on the road.

Tips on Getting the Right Seadoo Insurance for Your Needs

Next, let’s explore some precautionary steps you should take when shopping around for Seadoo insurance. These include the following:

End-to-End Coverage is Important

Are you only planning on taking your Seadoo, Kawasaki or Yamaha jet ski out for the occasional spin on a hot summer’s day or two each year? Or are you planning on spending every weekend up in cottage country out on local waterways and lakes? Regardless, ensure that you are covered from end to end, including when transporting your Seadoo, Kawasaki or Yamaha jet ski from the home to the lake. 

Will You be the Only One Onboard?

Even if you are the one who always sits in the driver’s seat, Seadoo insurance can protect the passenger riding in the back as well. For example, if a passenger is injured and wishes to seek damages, your policy’s liability coverage will kick in. As a general best practice, it makes more sense to have peace of mind for everyone on the water, helping you focus on navigating safely and having a great time!  

What’s Covered, and What Isn’t?

Do your homework when shopping around. If an insurance provider recommends you something without towing, recovery, agreed value, ingestion, or damage coverage, it’s best to keep looking and gauge your options. Even if the price is tantalizingly low, not having sufficient coverage can cost you a whole lot more in the long run. Save yourself the stress and financial strain.

Read Up on the Provider’s Instructions for Submitting a Claim

Even if you find a great option, submitting a claim is a whole different process. Providers will have their own specific sets of requirements, so it’s better to brush up on these in advance. This way, you’ll know what to do when or if you run into trouble. Our own submission guidelines can be found here.

In conclusion, while Seadoo insurance isn’t technically required, we know from experience that it is essential for boaters of all backgrounds and levels of expertise. To learn more about our policy options or to discuss your coverage needs, reach out to us or request a quote today. We’re happy to assist!

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How to Save Money on Your Boat Insurance

How to Save Money on Your Boat Insurance

As the winter ice melts and the ground thaws in time for spring, boaters start to look at the season ahead in eager anticipation to get back on the water. Boating has grown in popularity over the last few years as an exciting way to explore nearby lakes and rivers. With the 2022 season fast approaching, you might be wondering if it is time to review your boat’s insurance policy.

Although boat insurance does not cover wear and tear costs or freezing damages, it is important to help keep your vessel in good working condition. This can be costly, but worry not, as we have put together a list of our best boat insurance tips to help you save while ensuring peace of mind.

Have the Right Deductible

It might be tempting to increase your deductible as much as possible so it can offset and thus lower your premiums. This isn’t necessarily the right move. While you will be assuming more risk by increasing your deductible, the difference in the cost to you can be higher. This is especially true if you experience several incidents of minor damages, where you will be paying out of pocket without any assistance from your insurer. Weigh the deductible against your risk tolerance, ability to pay out of pocket, and the premiums you are comfortable paying each month.

Bundling Isn’t Always Better

Some insurers might encourage you to bundle your home, auto, and boat insurance together to reduce your premium. However, if you file a claim on your boat for a repair, the rates for your home and auto insurance could increase as a result. With a dedicated marine insurance provider, you work with professionals who understand watercraft and the incidents that can happen with them. Plus, you are more likely to get a competitive price and coverage that leaves nothing to chance. This applies to all sorts of different watercrafts, including seadoos too.

Understand Actual Cash vs. Agreed Amount Value

It is important to understand the two kinds of payouts available if your boat should be damaged beyond repair. Each plays a role in the cost of your premium. With agreed amount value or coverage, you will be paid for the value of your boat agreed between you and the insurer at the time your policy was opened. For actual cash value or coverage, you will be paid the value of your boat at the time of the payout, which will have depreciated since you opened the policy. Actual cash value policy holders will pay less for their premiums, but may not receive the full amount required to buy a new replacement for their boat.

Know Your Navigational Limits

Cruising around in calmer waters plays a factor into how much you pay for boat insurance. You can save money by avoiding busy areas, which are more likely to cause accidents for even the most experienced of boaters. Inform your insurer about which bodies of water and thoroughfares you plan to typically navigate. This will help to determine coverage and may potentially mean stable premiums by keeping your boat in a central location.

What About Lay-Up Costs?

While a great summer pastime, boats should be winterized well before freezing temperatures occur. While your vessel is laid up, you could choose to remove your boat insurance as it is not being used, eliminating your premium. The problem is, however, that you won’t be covered if it is stolen or damaged. If you start up your policy again in the spring, you could face higher premiums as your boat has been uninsured for several months. Ask your insurer about reduced premiums in the winter months while the risk to your boat is low. We recommend a year-round active policy to do away with any off-season financial stresses.

Take a Course

It’s important to have your boating licence or Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), sure, not to mention knowing your vessel of choice inside-out, but there is so much more to learn when it comes to best boating practices. Participate in a safety course, for instance, or take a class on recreational boating tips to improve your skills. Courses that offer certificates of completion are great to have on hand to show a thorough understanding of navigation, handling, safe docking, and otherwise. Demonstrate to your insurer that you have an increased level of preparedness and knowledge about what can happen on the water.

Keep Safety Equipment Well-Stocked and Maintained

There are several safety factors to consider when launching your boat into the water. Once you leave dry land, it is important to be prepared for any emergency that could occur on the water. A thorough amount of safety and preparedness equipment means you are aware of the risks of boat operation and want to do everything in your power to keep you and your passengers safe from injury.

Ensure you have the following fully stocked and well-maintained:

  • First aid kit
  • Lifejackets for everyone on board
  • Life buoy
  • Bailer bucket or hand pump to remove unwanted water from inside the boat
  • Sound signalling device and navigation lights in times of reduced visibility
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Waterproof flashlight and flares
  • Manual propelling device and anchor with 15 metres of rope or chain 

While it is not required by law, boat insurance proves itself to be just as important as auto insurance when it comes to protecting your investment from damages or liabilities. Understanding your policy means you can make informed decisions about the maintenance of your boat and feel secure bringing passengers aboard. Standard boat insurance policies typically cover all-risk situations, meaning any risk not omitted from the policy is covered like theft, vandalism, fire, lightning strikes and storms. Liability is another key piece of boating insurance and policies usually include coverage for injuries and property damage. 

At Portside Insurance, we know that protecting your investment and ensuring the safety of everyone on board is your top priority. However, we also know it’s possible to save money while maintaining peace of mind. Our boat insurance policies keep costs under control while also ensuring optimal coverage for your boat and its voyages to come. Contact us to learn more.

5 Insurance Factors to Consider When Buying a New Boat

Dreaming of taking to the water, exploring the great outdoors by boat, and making aquatic memories with friends and loved ones? You’re not alone; boating is an iconic Canadian pastime in its own right, much the same as fishing or even hockey. However, it’s a lot more complicated by comparison. You are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of your investment, all onboard occupants, and those of nearby vessels, in the water, and even on the shore who interact with your boat. 

One can never guarantee that a mishap won’t occur. From break-ins to running aground, damage from winter storms while in storage, component failures leading to an accident and even unintended negligence, there are plenty of reasons why boating insurance is crucial. It might not be required by law, but it might as well be, if only to protect you and your finances. 

With that in mind, let’s explore several insurance factors you should consider before buying your boat, not afterwards. These will help to ensure smoother sailing and a better overall experience as a boater. Let’s dive in!

Our Boat Insurance in Canada Checklist

Today, we’ll cover the following takeaways:

  • Obtain a Pleasure Craft Operators’ Card (PCOC)
  • Incorporate Insurance and Policy Add-On Costs into Your Budget
  • Read the Fine Print!
  • Where Will You Store Your Boat in the Wintertime or When Not in Use?
  • Look for a Year-Round Policy that Offers Agreed Value Coverage

Obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC)

Are you licensed? This should be the first step before shopping for any type of boat or insurance. A Pleasure Craft Operator Card, otherwise referred to as a PCOC or boating licence, is required for any motor-powered vessel in Canada. If you don’t reside in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, you’ll need this proof of competency, which can be obtained by passing a boating safety course test. This can be done either in-person or online, and upon passing, you’ll receive your PCOC. 

As we’ve explored in-depth previously, a licence is not the same as a boating certificate or vessel registration, so be sure to read up on the differences between them before proceeding. In short, certification is optional. Licensing is not. Without it, you run the risk of being denied insurance for your vessel, holding you responsible for any expenses related to a mishap, theft, or collision. 

Incorporate Insurance and Policy Add-On Costs into Your Budget

When shopping for boat insurance, you ought to be mindful of the overall cost, of course, but don’t stop there. What about the policy coverage elements themselves? Do they cover all the essential angles? Find out beforehand whether the package in question takes care of expenses such as coverage for personal effects, recovery costs and towing, or even reimbursement in the event of a necessary hotel stay or car rental caused by an accident while boating.

In addition, if your boat needs to be repaired, will the insurance provider arrange for new or refurbished parts? To minimize maintenance hassles and get the very most out of your policy, we recommend looking for one that clearly states that new parts will be arranged for any boat repairs. If there are no betterment fees to worry about, then that’s more good news for you and your budget.

All in all, the following are some of the key elements you should ensure your policy includes:

  • Towing and assistance
  • Trailer, storage, and transportation coverage
  • Liability
  • Hotel and/or rental vehicle reimbursement in the event of an emergency
  • New part replacements and repair services
  • Personal effects and onboard/non-removable equipment

You should also consider finding a boating insurance company that bundles all the essentials or can offer a personalized policy solution to meet your needs. It’s well worth it for the peace of mind!

Read the Fine Print! 

Some boaters don’t look too deeply into the specifics of the policy they sign up for; this is a dangerous approach as your coverage may not take care of every perceived expense that concerns you. When making a large investment such as this, it’s better to take your time, not jump into buying that sleek and beautiful vessel right away. Always examine the insurance documentation set before you. The fine print will outline all the terms and conditions, and once you sign, you must comply with the policy in question. 

Boat insurance doesn’t automatically cover every single expense under the sun, either; you’re expected as the owner to properly maintain and responsibly utilize the vessel, abiding by local boating laws wherever your outdoor adventures take you. General wear and tear is typically not factored into insurance for this reason, for instance, as boats are exposed to the elements whenever not stored away. Therefore, degradation over the years with continued use is to be expected, even with upkeep, much like with a regular automobile. 

Where Will You Store Your Boat in the Wintertime or When Not in Use?

Different risks may present themselves depending on where your boat is when not being enjoyed out on the water. For instance, when docked in a marina during a storm, a line may snap and cause it to jostle about and scrape against another vessel. Or, while transporting it from your property to a boat launch, an accident on the road could damage it severely. 

These things happen. They often can’t be avoided. However, while most boat insurance policies will cover storage, it’s important to ensure that whatever you have active will be applicable towards however you intend to transport and store it. If you have auto insurance, its liability protection can kick in when towing the boat on a trailer. Boat insurance is ideal for storage in marinas or other similar environments during the off season, and for reimbursing for the cost of the vessel itself. The optimal approach is to have auto and boat insurance to ensure there are no liability risks or unforeseen expenses left for you to deal with out-of-pocket. 

Look for a Year-Round Policy that Offers Agreed Value Coverage

If you see a policy offering cash value, it means that the payout will be based on the perceived market value of the boat or components damaged. Agreed value coverage is the better choice for boaters of all skill levels and backgrounds, as it does what it says on the tin: it’s the agreement between you and the insurer of the value. This means that no depreciation will occur in the event of a total loss, and it guarantees that brand-new replacement parts can be installed without exceeding your coverage limit. Lastly, your insurance should be active all year long, not just during peak boating season, as damage and/or other mishaps can happen just as easily during the colder months or when in storage. 
Want to learn more about boating insurance fundamentals, or are you curious about our own options here at Portside Marine Insurance? We’re happy to help you make the most informed and effective decision possible with our personalized solutions! Get in touch with us to learn more, or request a quote today.