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Boat Insurance Coverage & Water Sports Towing Tips

How to Pull Skiers Safely

boat insurance coverage for water sportsBoat insurance coverage protects you against liability but knowing how to pull skiers safely can greatly reduce your risk of injury for those in the boat, being towed and on nearby boats.

To do your best to ensure that everyone has a fun safe boating adventure you need to learn the techniques for pulling water sports enthusiasts safely and make sure you have the correct boat insurance coverage in the event that there is an accident. As with any boating accidents, boaters who operate a vessel or watercraft while intoxicated by alcohol or narcotics or who exceed the capacity of a boat could not only endanger people around them but also void their boat insurance coverage.

Water sports are great fun, but they are also among the more dangerous activities on the water. Statistically, water skiers are in the top five most common boating accidents.

Here are some tips for keeping everyone safe and your boat insurance coverage intact:

  • Know the laws of the state because some only permit boaters pull skiers, tubers or wake boarders during specific hours
  • Stop the fun if the weather conditions turn bad and impact visibility
  • Do not operate the boat if you have been drinking or using drugs
  • Make sure you have a spotter – a responsible person (preferably an adult – and some states stipulate a minimum age requirement for the spotter) to watch the skier and relay hand signals to you as the driver of the boat
  • Ensure that you, the spotter and the skier all know hand signals for ready, slow down, speed up, turn left, turn right, cut the motor, turn the boat and okay
  • Make sure the skier knows that if he or she falls to hold up a ski to be more easily visible to you and other boaters
  • Everyone on the boat and the skier should wear a personal flotation device (PFD) for safety
  • Don’t take unnecessary risks; if the water is busy and congested, don’t ski there or wait until it is less congested
  • Before you start to tow make sure the skier is ready, then start to slowly increase your speed – let the skier indicate with hand signals if you should go faster or slower
  • If the skier falls immediately decelerate; this alerts other boaters that the person has fallen and lets you slowly turn and approach the fallen skier on the driver’s side without swamping

Water skiing, surfing and wake boarding can be a lot of fun when the towing boat operator is knowledgeable and doesn’t compromise the safety of the skier and others on the water.

Knowledge, skill and the right boat insurance coverage are the best combination on the water. Contact the boat insurance professionals at Global Marine Insurance for the best recreational boat insurance coverage.

Stray Electric Current Hazards

Lethal stray electric current is a common risk that marina operators, boat builders, and yacht clubs need to take steps to prevent. Even with precautions, there is always some level of risk. Boaters need to be aware of potentially dangerous areas and be especially cautious about keeping children from water that they may find irresistible.

This insidious threat can very quickly pose a risk at marinas. Aside from fatalities or bodily injury from electric shock, some electrical incidents can also wreak costly damage to boats and yachts. So what does a vigilant marina, club, or other waterfront business watch for to mitigate risk and liability?

First, it’s important to understand two dangerous current types in the water. These are:

  • Stray Direct Current (DC) – which quickly damages boats, particularly if there is an aluminum hull or any metal hull fittings
  • Stray Alternating Current (AC) – which emits potentially fatal electrical impulses into the water

Suppose a person encounters stray AC while in the water. Even low levels can paralyze muscles and result in injury or even death by drowning. Higher levels could, of course, electrocute anyone unfortunate enough to be immersed in the electrified water. Too often, the victims of electric shock drowning are children or teens swimming nearby.

Marine business owners will want to watch for the two most common sources of electric current entering the water: Electrical wiring from the shore power system or the connection between a boat and the onshore power supply.

Here are some ways to minimize the risk of stray electric currents:

  • Ensure that all electrical equipment is installed properly and meets required federal and local safety standards
  • Install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) for safety
  • Regularly review the power system for any defects or issues
  • Make repairs and maintenance a priority
  • Require all boats or yachts at the marina to meet the fire protection standard
  • Ban swimming at or near the marine facilities or operations
  • Forbid diving operations without approval, and be sure to use the appropriate safety precautions for the duration of the dive

Stray Electric Current Safety Checklist for Marinas and Yacht Clubs is available upon request. You can refer to this tip sheet for more information about stray electric currents and preventative measures to put in place.

Want to minimize your exposure to risk onshore or on land? Contact the marine business insurance professionals at Global Marine Insurance to discuss your needs. We offer marine industry expertise, broad coverage offerings, and tailored solutions.

Boat & Yacht Sea Trials

If you are seriously considering buying a boat or yacht, our yacht insurance specialists strongly recommend you take it for a sea trial first. 

Why? Seeing a yacht where it’s docked or in a showroom is not the same as understanding performance. A sea trial is a perfect opportunity to feel how the vessel operates at cruising speed, check for vibrations, practice hard turns, and experience riding in rough waters.

Here’s how to get the most out of the experience:

  • Only ask a broker or dealer for a sea trial when you’ve pretty much made up your mind. In some cases, the seller may require a 10% deposit before a sea trial.
  • If you’re buying new, you might take a demonstration model out for the sea trial. In this case, be sure that you’re comparing apples to apples! Confirm that the engine has the same power and that other specifications match.
  • Remember that when you take a boat or yacht out, it may not be as loaded as when you’re heading out on a voyage. The weight of supplies, guests, and possibly crew can significantly impact performance.
  • How is the speed when taking the boat for a trial run? How does it handle under different conditions? Was the fuel economy as expected? Consult the owner’s manual for the recommended maximum rpm, and then see how it compares to what you experience when you go top speed.
  • Take note of safety features (this is important to know when you check your yacht insurance coverage rates before you put in an offer). What is there, and what’s missing?
  • Regarding speed, remember to check not only how FAST the vessel can go but also how she handles at a minimum planing speed. You’ll want to determine how well you can control it at variable speeds.
  • Check all the electronics on board, especially if it’s pre-owned. Not only should everything power on all right, but the screen visibility should also be adequate, whether it’s dark outside or there’s a lot of glare from sunshine. Does everything work as it should? Test it – don’t be shy.
  • Investigate other elements. What is the visibility like from the helm? Open and shut cupboards and storage areas to see if things stick or latch properly. Similarly, check how windows, doors, and skylights open and shut in case of any issues. Take a look at the cabins while you’re out on the water and see if things are quiet and smooth or if passenger areas are comfortable.

Trust your instincts. If you’re not happy after the sea trial, keep looking. If you are happy with the experience, determine if a vessel survey is appropriate. Only make an offer if you can see yourself enjoying many voyages without regrets.

If you’re ready to make an offer, check yacht insurance coverage rates before you buy. Contact the yacht insurance professionals at Global Marine Insurance for a boat or yacht insurance quote.

Other articles that may be of interest:

Pricing Your Yacht to Sell

Yacht Purchase Mistakes

Boat Auction Tips

Maritime Workers Insurance Coverage

If you employ marine workers, it can be challenging to figure out what insurance you should invest in to ensure adequate coverage.

There are two federal statutes governing compensation for marine injury claims:

The Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (DLHWC) for workers involved in longshoring and harbor operations includes a ship repairman, a shipbuilder, and a ship breaker. There is a long list of those who are not covered under this federation compensation program.

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (the “Jones Act”) covers seamen and other crew members assigned to a vessel or fleet of vessels. Among those covered by the Jones Act are deckhands, captains, engineers, drillers, and first, second, or third mates. It has also been applied to fishing and shrimping boats, oil fields, barges, tug boats, and other maritime workers at sea. As with DLHWC, there are many examples of maritime workers who are not covered under the Jones Act.

Judicial rulings are also used to guide judges as they determine the outcomes of similar cases. Many times the courts carefully consider how much time the worker spends at sea to determine which act should be applied in the case of injury. There is also a gray area in decisions about what constitutes a vessel. For this reason, in addition to considering federal legislation, employers need to also consider legal precedents set in other cases as they determine which marine business insurance is best for their industry.

Employers aren’t the only ones confused by who falls under which federal compensation act. Marine workers are often just as bewildered, and to protect their own interests, they file claims under both laws. For this reason, it is not unusual for employers in the marine industry to have marine business insurance that offers coverage for both DLHWC and the Jones Act. It is also important to seek advice from an experienced marine business insurance specialist to ensure state-mandated coverage is met, if applicable.