WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18, 2018
If you can accommodate guests on your boat, you shouldn't hesitate to invite them aboard. Using your vessel for social purposes is a great way to show hospitality. Yet, offering invitations to others should give you reason to pause.
Having guests on your boat means you must assume responsibility for their safety. An excursion might expose them to injury, property damage and even the risk of fatality. A comprehensive safety plan should help you reduce the chances of problems happening.
Nevertheless, you can't prevent every risk. Your boat insurance policy should address passenger risks that might still occur.
Insuring Passenger Risks
Each portion of boat insurance works in tandem to create protection for passengers. Though you need layers of protection, there are some elements that are more directly geared towards passengers.
- Medical Payments Coverage: Should you or your guests sustain injuries in a boating accident, regular health insurance policies will usually cover the bills. However, medical payments protection might help lessen residual cost burdens.
- Guest Passenger Liability Insurance: If a guest is at the helm when an accident happens, this coverage might come in handy. It can help them in case they are at-fault in an accident that injures someone else on the water. They might need this money to compensate the affected party, or to settle legal costs.
- Many boat insurance policies come with contents protection. It helps to help you replace items lost to theft, accidents or other hazards. Often, lost passenger possessions have coverage. Still, some policies to not offer this type of protection.
Remember, every insurance policy will govern passenger protection differently. Talk to your insurance agent about how your policy covers guest safety. Tell them how guests will use the boat, and if they will take part in unique activities, such as water-skiing. Your agent can likely explain unique elements of your coverage. They can also help you make adjustments as needed.
A Safety Overview for your Vessel
Even when you have boat insurance, you only want to use it in worst-case scenarios. You should go above and beyond to have a comprehensive safety plan in place for your guests. With safety rules backing them up, they can usually enjoy themselves without worry.
- When passengers board your boat, go over any safety procedures with them. One of your top priorities should be to show guests how to use life jackets. Passengers should wear these at all times. Have child and adult sizes available as appropriate.
- Provide other information, such as how to use rafts, fire extinguishers or radios.
- Keep a full complement of lifesaving materials on the boat. Standard safety items might include:
- Life jackets
- Standard First Aid kits
- Specialty medical items, such as air tanks or external defibrillators (as needed).
- If necessary, establish which parts of the vessel should be off-limits to passengers. This might include the area around the motor, sail, or unsafe portions of the bow or stern.
- Post safety notices in clear view around hazardous areas.
- Require passengers to remain seated during high risk periods of travel. This might be during periods of high speed boating, or during transit through wake zones. Furthermore, some passengers need to remain seated anytime the vessel is moving.
- If you plan to use recreational equipment, such as jet skis or floats, explain to passengers how to use them. Do not allow inexperienced passengers to use these items. Make sure they have proper training and monitoring during times of use.
- Your job as the captain should be to act as a lookout for passengers. Know where everyone is at all times. If someone gets into the water, know where they are around the boat. Do not allow passengers to venture away from the craft without supervision. It’s also generally not a good idea to allow people to swim alone.
Furthermore, simple boat maintenance might help prevent harm from coming to your passengers.
- Keep an eye on the state of your equipment. Lifesaving equipment frequently has an expiration date. Furthermore, items likely experience wear and tear over time. Before casting off, test items to ensure they are still in good shape.
- Do not use a vessel with malfunctioning parts. Test your horn, lights, radar, fire alarm, radio and other critical systems. They might come in handy in case of emergencies.
- Every few months, make sure the vessel receives scheduled maintenance. Oil changes, engine cleanings and hull inspections might all keep the vessel in top shape. Periodically replace moorings, ballast tanks and other deteriorating parts as needed.
- If you notice developing safety issues on the boat, go out of the way to repair them before your next excursion. Keep passengers away from hazards that develop during sailing.
Between casting off and docking again, you take the safety of your passengers in your own hands. Therefore, from the time they arrive at the dock, until the time they leave, make sure they have protection. Enforce all maritime law aboard the vessels, and put passenger safety first. Don't let negligence become the cause of an accident that could be avoided.
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