There’s a famous saying, stating that the two happiest days of a boat owner’s life are the day they buy a boat and the day they sell it. Unfortunately for many the latter is true. But we can’t help but wonder if this expression would ever have come to fruition if boat owners were properly informed?

As we enter boating season (in Greater Vancouver BC and Canada) you are likely preparing your watercraft to navigate the waterways of your locale. That preparation should include more than the cleaning and waxing of your hull, deck and topsides (etc.). It should include an accounting of best practices that will help you make better decisions to, from, and on the lakes, ocean channels, rivers and marinas near you.

Park Insurance wants your boat ownership experience to be a happy one, every day. Take note of the following tips and suggestions, and it can be.

4 Things You Need to Know About Insurance and Liability Concerns Surrounding Your Watercraft

1. You Need a Pleasure Craft Operators Card (PCOC)

Current boat owners already know this. But if you’ve been looking around as a first time buyer and think you can just snag a vessel on Craigslist and hit the water you need to reel in the excitement. If you reside in B.C. (or anywhere in Canada) you need to get your Pleasure Craft Operators Card. If you do not have one, you may void your boat insurance policy. You need to take a test to obtain it.

While you don’t have to take a boating safety course beforehand, you may find the test quite challenging without doing so. In the end, a course will best prepare you not only for the test, but for many liability concerns that can arise out on the water. In addition, receiving training with a BC chapter of the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron may qualify you for a discount on your policy. Discounts may be available if you have good track record (claim free) as a boat owner for three to five years.

But first, your PCOC. Learn more about how to get your PCOC here.

2. Know the Marine Liability Act

In Canada (B.C. included) the Marine Liability Act dictates that a boat owner is legally responsible for up to $1.5 million in the event of an accident. If you are found liable, you will have to pay up to that amount. In an instant, a fun day out on the sea can ruin you financially, unless you have adequate coverage. Take time to view this PDF of the Marine Liability Act. The more educated you are before boating season, the better.

3. Avoid Voiding Your Boat Insurance

In addition to not having your PCOC (item #1 above) when operating a boat, you can void it through criminal or negligent acts. This includes the consumption of alcohol and boating recklessly, which is no different than if you were operating a vehicle on the road. Provincial and federal law also restricts operators under the age of 16. Those between the ages of 12 and 16 must not operate a watercraft capable of more than 40 horsepower (hp). Children under the age of 12 cap out at 10 hp.

Exercise common sense. In fact, follow the same rules you would for safe driving. For instance, avoid distractions, keep awake and alert, and ensure that your watercraft has adequate safety equipment (personal flotation devices, manual propelling devices, etc.) to reduce your liability concerns.

4. Confirm that You Have Adequate Boat and Marine Insurance

There are many myths and misconceptions about boat insurance. It’s not as clear cut as automobile or homeowners policies. You may be a new boat owner buying insurance for the first time. You may be seeking to renew and/or upgrade your policy, knowing that you may not have been adequately protected in the past. Whichever the case, you will want to sit down with an independent insurance broker that specializes in boat and marine insurance.

The Boating BC Association recommends that you go with an independent broker over an agent for the fact that only a broker will be able to put together a comprehensive boat insurance package. Only then can you be sure you have a policy that meets the unique needs of your watercraft, your locale, and you. For instance, you may be able to take advantage of coverage that includes $2 million in liability, one that provides reimbursement for emergency expenses and includes your tender and its outboard motor, electronic navigation equipment as well as some personal effects and certain medical costs. That coverage can be made available to you for only $350/year! Find out if you qualify for this package here. For all other inquiries regarding boat insurance in BC, contact Park Insurance today.