October 10, 2023
You’re enjoying a lovely afternoon on the water, when your boat’s motor grinds to a sudden halt. Now what? Does my boat insurance cover my stranded boat?
Basic boat insurance sometimes covers strandings, but you’ll need to read your insurance policy for specifics.
If your boat's motor shuts down while you're on the water, you’re facing a potentially frustrating and dangerous situation, but it's incredibly important to stay calm and follow a few key steps to get your engine back online and ensure your safety.
Here's what you should do if your boat’s motor quits:
Stay calm: Panic can lead to poor decision-making. Take a deep breath and stay composed.
Safety first: Make sure everyone on board is wearing a life jacket.
Check for simple issues: Sometimes, the problem is an easy fix. Check that the engine is still in gear and the fuel line is connected correctly. Keep the kill switch engaged if your boat has one.
Try restarting the engine: Turn off the engine, wait a few seconds, and then try restarting it. Sometimes, this can clear minor issues.
Check fuel levels: Ensure that you have enough fuel. If the fuel gauge is malfunctioning, use a dipstick or a clear container to check the fuel level in the tank.
Inspect the propeller: If your boat has hit debris or shallow water, the propeller might be damaged or tangled in plant life. It’s a good idea to keep a pick or sharp knife on board to help detangle the propeller.
Check for overheating: If your boat's engine is overheating, it might shut down automatically, especially if you’re tubing or towing a heavy object. Look for signs of overheating, such as steam or hot smells. Let the engine cool down before attempting to restart it.
Use a backup motor (If available): If your boat is equipped with a backup motor, you can use it to get to shore.
Call for assistance: If you can't get the engine to start again, use a marine radio or a cell phone to call for assistance to your local authorities You’ll need to provide your location, the nature of the problem, the risk level as you see it, and the number of people on board.
Will insurance cover my stranded boat?
Whether insurance covers boat strandings really depends on the specific type of insurance policy you have and how exactly the boat was stranded, so be sure to check the coverage with your insurance provider when purchasing a new policy. Some policies do not consider a motor malfunction to be a stranding unless the boat actively runs aground or experiences damages. Here’s what you’ll want to look for:
Boat insurance: Basic boat insurance sometimes covers strandings, but it’s good to ask your insurance agent for specifics. Coverage can include repairs to the boat itself and damage to the boat's motor, hull, or other equipment. That said, the coverage may be subject to deductibles and limits, so you should review your policy carefully.
Liability insurance: If your boat causes damage to another person's property or injures someone while it's stranded, liability insurance covers the costs of legal defense and any damages you’re responsible for. This type of coverage is almost always included in boat insurance policies.
Salvage coverage: It’s possible to get insurance that covers the cost of salvaging a stranded boat. Salvage coverage helps pay for the expenses associated with professionally removing and recovering the boat.
Towing coverage: Towing coverage is a common optional add-on to your boat insurance policy, but might be covered under the salvage option. Talk to an insurance expert about whether you need this service to cover towing your boat to a repair facility.
Coverage per person: Keep in mind that a boat should be insured for up to $250,000 per passenger. A boat that can carry three should have $750,000 in coverage and proof of insurance onboard, according to Transport Canada.
Read your boat insurance policy carefully to understand what types of coverage it provides. If you're not quite sure whether your policy covers strandings, enough passengers, or equipment breakdowns and towing, contact your insurance provider or agent for more information.
Western Financial Group offers a complete set of insurance products and solutions through our licensed sales brokers who are located across Canada. Car, home, many types of recreational vehicles and commercial/business insurance.
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