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NEW YORK, May 18, 2004 - With private boat accidents causing $39 million in property damage, having the appropriate property and liability coverage is essential, says the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)
The U.S. Coast Guard reports that in 2002, there were more than 5,700 boating accidents resulting in 4,062 injuries and 750 fatalities.
Although collision with another boat is the most reported type of accident - hurricanes, fire and theft also pose significant threats, according to the I.I.I. In fact, more than $40 million worth of boats are stolen each year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
"And keep in mind that boating accidents occur on land as well as water - extensive damage to the hull can occur if a boat is not properly secured when towed," says Alejandra Soto of the I.I.I.
Canoes, small sail boats, and boats equipped with motors that go less than 25 mph are generally covered under a homeowners or renters insurance policy, according to the I.I.I. Coverage is usually about $1,000 or ten percent of the home's property value and generally includes the boat, motor, and trailer combined. Liability coverage is typically not included - but it can be added as an endorsement to a homeowners policy.
Larger and faster boats, yachts, and personal watercrafts such as jet skis and wave runners require a separate boat insurance policy.
For physical loss or damage, coverage includes the hull, machinery, fittings, furnishings and permanently attached equipment for an agreed value. These policies also provide broader liability protection than a homeowners policy.
Boat insurance also covers:
Most companies offer liability limits starting at $15,000 and can be increased to $300,000. Typical policies include deductibles of $250 for property damage, $500 for theft and $1000 for medical payments. Higher limits may be available. Additional coverage can be purchased for trailers and other accessories. Boat owners may also consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy which will provide additional protection for their boat, home and car.
The type and value of the vessel, the horsepower of the engines and the location where it is kept are all factors in determining coverage and premium.
Boaters should also inquire about special equipment kept on the boat, such as fishing gear, to make sure it is covered and verify that towing coverage is included in the policy.
Another variable influencing the cost of insurance is where the boat is used - navigating in the Caribbean is generally riskier than on a quiet lake. The I.I.I. suggests that boat owners discuss their insurance needs with their insurance agent or company representative.
Boat owners should also inquire about discounts including:
Boaters can get more information about insurance coverage by accessing I.I.I.'s Web site at http://www.iii.org or calling their insurance professional. Information on how to protect a boat from theft can be found at the National Insurance Crime Bureau's Web site at www.nicb.org.
The I.I.I. is a non-profit communications organization sponsored by the property/casualty insurance industry.