Proper boating safety is paramount in making sure that all your trips out onto the water end in great times and fun for everyone. But even while following all the boating safety tips you can, it’s still possible to end up in trouble. The same goes for towing and storing your boat, as even those mundane events can prove disastrous in the blink of an eye. So, when disaster strikes, you had better be prepared to handle the situation or it could get out of hand. Thankfully, we are here to help with this guide on what to do in the event of a boating accident or other claim.
Pull in Anyone Who’s Gone Overboard
If a boating accident occurs in the water, the very first thing to do is make sure everyone is accounted for on all the involved watercrafts. As you do a headcount, verify your main and outboard motors are off to keep people in the water safe from their propellers.
If anyone comes up missing, then you need to holler, “Man overboard,” and then grab your lifebuoy and do a scan of the water. Once someone is spotted, it is important to assign someone to steadily point at them and watch them closely until they are brought onboard.
If they are close, you can drag them back on the boat by their life jacket. Otherwise, you will need to throw them the buoy if they are conscious and able to grab hold. If they are too far away for a clean throw, move the boat over to them without getting too close with the propeller. Then, shut down the engine and rescue them from the water.
Check for Injuries and Catastrophic Damage
With everyone onboard, it’s time to check for any injuries to yourself and your passengers. The other boaters should do the same. Beyond cuts, bruises, and fractures, look for signs of hypothermia in those who ended up overboard.
The signs include:
- Extreme shivering
- Slurred speech
- Slow breathing
- Slow or irregular pulse
Also, check to make sure the boat did not suffer catastrophic damage that’s causing it to take on water.
If anyone is seriously injured or your boat is sinking, you will need to quickly call for help. Turn your radio to VHF channel 16 and repeat “Mayday” three times with a pause in between. Then, provide your boat name, position, and extent of the problem plus what help you need in that moment. If you only have a cellphone, you can try to get help by dialing either #16 or *16.
Collect Any Info You Can About the Incident
If everyone is okay and your boat is still seaworthy, you can focus your attention on collecting information from the other involved boaters. Just make sure all is well on their watercraft before asking.
With the all clear, you can collect their:
- Phone number
- Boat insurance company
- Insurance policy number
- Effective coverage dates
Give them your information as well, then write down a quick description of the incident, including your approximate position on the water. Jot down the names of all witnesses plus their contact information. Once you are done with that, take pictures of the damage to all the boats and other watercraft.
If your boat was damaged by thieves, vandals, or another incident, do your best to create a clear picture of what happened. Ask your neighbors or anyone else nearby if they witnessed anything. If they did, ask to get their information to share with your boat insurance company.
File a Claim with Your Boating Insurance Company
Wait to file your boat insurance claim until you have safely made it back to land. Take a moment to load up your boat on the trailer and perform a full inspection of its hull and other surfaces. Write down and photograph any additional damage you find for use when you file your claim.
Then, after making it home, give your boat insurance company a call to share the information you’ve gathered. Your representative will input the info into the system and let you know what to expect in the coming weeks. You will then need to wait for them to investigate the incident, determine who’s at fault, and price out the damage.
Once they’ve determined that your boating accident or other incident qualifies for coverage, your rep will reach out to let you know where to go for repairs or discuss reimbursement. At that point, you just have to follow the instructions to complete your claim and restore the condition of your watercraft.
Your insurance coverage can only protect you from losses from boating accidents and other events if you keep it up to date and at the right levels. So, before you start planning all your adventures, make sure to give our team at Wayfarer Insurance Group a call at 1-844-929-4768 any time you need to discuss your coverage needs.