Knowing that your boat, passengers and crew are out of harm’s way is the first step in creating an enjoyable outing on the water. As every boat owner knows, the pleasures of taking your boat out for a cruise are unmatched—but you’re also more vulnerable when away from shore. Proactive safety and security measures can go a long way in minimizing injury and costly damage as well as creating peace of mind.
Depending on the size and type of boat you have, you may want to work with a specialist to determine which safety practices best suit your needs and are the ones you should look to invest in. Your insurance carrier may also offer such services or referrals to experts who can help. Whether you work with a specialist or do the review yourself, spending some funds upfront to ensure your yacht and guests safety are probably money well spent!
Several must haves:
- Equip the vessel for safety. It should have the appropriate number of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. In addition, educate all family and guests as to the location of emergency devices such as life jackets, life rafts, flares and fire extinguishers.
- Have an EPIRB on hand. An EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon) assists with location detection if your boat is in distress. Many yachts are equipped with a fixed EPIRB unit, but consider purchasing a portable hand-held version as well. COST IS $200 TO $1,500
- Inspect everything on board. You want to know that all of your equipment is in good working order and installed according to both manufacturer recommendations and Coast Guard regulations.
- Plan for emergency situations. Keep a “ditch bag” on board in case you need to evacuate in a hurry. The bag should include flares, a VHF marine radio, your portable EFIRB and other essentials such as bottled water, sunscreen and energy bars.
- Prepare for stormy weather. Some of the most beautiful waterways are prone to the most severe weather. It’s crucial to devise severe weather plans to implement before, during and after a major storm. Your personal plan needs to take into account how your boat is docked, whether it requires hauling, etc. Once your plan is in place, share a copy with a reliable person who can take care of it if you’re away when a major storm hits.
- Manage crew members. Do as thorough a background check as you would on any member of your household staff. The crew will be in close contact with your family and guests, in isolated areas—you need to know you can trust their character and experience.
- Get educated on best practices. Ensure everyone on the crew and in your family is prepared tomanage your particular vessel and its equipment. Conduct periodic reviews of safety training and first-aid procedures.
- Plan in advance how you will handle accidents or injuries. Some steps may seem like common sense, but it’s easy to forget the basics in the heat of the moment. Preparing in advance can keep everyone on board (including yourself) more calm. Pre-planning also may help you respond faster, potentially minimizing the extent of damage.
- Document all pertinent details of an accident and notify local authorities. Keeping good records of an incident can simplify your claim process and may offer further protection if someone is injured on the boat and decides to sue you.
For more information, visit aigprivateclient.com/yacht
About the Author
Sean Blue is the global head of consumer watercraft insurance for AIG. Based in New Jersey, he manages the firm’s global portfolio of yacht insurance. Prior to joining AIG, Mr. Blue spent many years as a licensed agent, specializing in yacht and the personal insurance policies of high net worth individuals for PLI Inc., a national insurance brokerage. A lifelong boater, Mr. Blue began sailing as a junior member of the Seattle Yacht Club and grew up sailing Lasers and 420s in Portage Bay, Lake Union and Lake Washington in Seattle, as well as fishing on a 42-foot Uniflite out of Ilwaco, WA. Currently boatless, he crews on friends’ boats when he can and is enjoying boating in the Northeast.
American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is a world-leading property-casualty and general insurance organization servicing more than 70 million clients around the world. Through its Private Client Group division, successful individuals can access innovative protection for homes, excess liability, automobiles, private collections, yachts and more. AIG Private Client Group also offers supplemental services designed to minimize property damages, safeguard fine art and other collectibles, and bolster family safety.