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TMCNet:  From Lifejackets to Carbon Monoxide Detectors: ACE Recreational Marine Insurance Announces Top Ten Recreational Boating Tips

[July 28, 2014]

From Lifejackets to Carbon Monoxide Detectors: ACE Recreational Marine Insurance Announces Top Ten Recreational Boating Tips

PHILADELPHIA --(Business Wire)--

Recreational boating activity soars during warm weather months, and so do boating accidents and injuries. According to the U.S. Coast Guard's "Boating Statistics 2013,"1 the most recent year available, there were nearly 12 million registered recreational boats in the United States. With so many boaters enjoying the waterways, it is no surprise that more than 4,000 boating accidents, involving more than 5,400 vessels, were reported in 2013, with far more accidents that go unreported each year. In addition, more than 2,600 people required medical treatment beyond first aid and 560 died as a result of boating accidents. The total property damage in 2013 from reported accidents increased to approximately $39 million.

Though the statistics are alarming, the risk of boating injuries and accidents can be minimized. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the vast majority of reported incidents involved factors that were within the control of boat operators. To help reduce the number of preventable accidents this boating season, ACE Recreational Marine Insurance, one of the nation's largest recreational marine insurance providers, and part of ACE Group, has released an updated list of the top ten tips to help recreational boaters stay safe.

"As you would expect, most boating fatalities occur when the waterways are most crowded with recreational boaters - more than 70 percent occurred between May and September," said Damon R. Hostetter, Senior Vice President, ACE Recreational Marine Insurance. "That so many of these accidents are preventable only compounds the tragedy. Safe boating should be the aim of all boaters and comes from ongoing education and training, as well as hands-on boating experience. Understanding and obeying navigational rules and safety procedures have proven to help reduce injuries and property damage," said Mr. Hostetter.

ACE Recreational Marine Top Ten Recreational Boating Safety Tips

  1. Always wear a life jacket and insist that your crew and guests do the same. Approximately 77 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned in 2013.1 Almost 84 percent of those who drowned were not wearing a life jacket, and 8 out of every 10 boaters who drowned were on vessels less than 21 feet in length. Always have an adequate supply of life jackets aboard. Make sure that children are wearing appropriate life jackets that fit correctly. Drowning was the reported cause of death for approximately 36 percent of the children under the age of 13 who perished in boating accidents in 2013. In cold water areas, life jackets are even more important. Hypothermia is a significant risk factor for injury or even death while boating. Cold water accelerates the onset and progression of hypothermia since body heat can be lost 25 times faster in cold water than in cold air. Boaters can be at risk of hypothermia in warm waters as well, where expected time of survival can be as little as two hours in waters as warm as 60 - 70°F. To learn hypothermia risk factors and how to better your chances of survival, visit: http://www.seagrant.umn.edu/coastal_communities/hypothermia.
  2. Never drink alcohol while boating. Alcohol use was again the leading factor in all fatal boating accidents, and in 2013 contributed to 75 fatalities, 16 percent of recreational boating deaths. 1 Stay sharp on the water by leaving the alcohol on dry land.
  3. Take a boating safety course. Only 13 percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction from a provider offering a course that meets U.S. Coast Guard-recognized national standards.1 You may even qualify for a reduced insurance rate if you complete a safety course. Contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadron chapter,2 or visit http://www.uscgboating.org for information on courses in your area.
  4. Stay in control by taking charge of your safety and that of your passengers. Boaters between the ages of 36 and 55 accounted for the highest percentage of boating fatalities (38%) and injuries (39%) more than any age group in 2013.1 With nearly 5,500 vessels involved in accidents last year, it is imperative to maintain control of your vessel and your passengers. Don't forget that safety begins with you.
  5. Understand and obey boating safety recommendations and navigational rules. Imagine the mayhem that would result if car drivers disregarded highway traffic laws. In 2013, violations of navigation rules were contributing factors in more than 200 accidents and 15 deaths. Know and understand boating safety procedures and rules of navigation before taking to the water, and practice them without fail.
  6. Operate at a safe speed and always maintain a proper lookout. Overall, operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excess speed and machinery failure were the top five primary contributing factors in all reported accidents.1 Know your boat's limitations as well as your own. Take note of visibility, traffic density and the proximity of navigation hazards like shoals, rocks or floating objects. Don't invite a collision by going faster than is prudent.
  7. Check the weather forecast. A calm day can quickly turn ugly on the water. There were 40 deaths in 2013 attributed to adverse weather conditions. Keep an eye out for changing weather conditions and stay on top of the forecast while boating. Promptly heed all weather and storm advisories.
  8. Register for a free MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identity) Number, and have a VHF radio equipped with Digital Selective Calling (DSC). When in coastal and inshore waters, these preparations can help take the search out of search and rescue. DCS allows the VHF radio to transfer information digitally, not just by voice, and to instantly send a digital distress alert to the Coast Guard upon activation of the emergency button. Part of that alert is the MMSI number, similar to a phone number for your boat, which will identify your vessel automatically; without one, the digital distress functions on a DSC-equipped VHF radio will not function. DSC-equipped radios also need to be interfaced with a GPS when they are installed so your exact position can be relayed to rescuers when an emergency message is sent in a distress situation. If you go offshore, always carry an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or Global Positioning System interfaced with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB/GPIRB), and/or a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). To register for an MMSI and learn more about the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), visit: http://www.usps.org/php/mmsi/home.php.
  9. Use a carbon monoxide (CO) detector. Carbon monoxide can harm and even kill you inside or on the deck of your boat. All internal combustion engines emit carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that can make you sick in seconds and kill in minutes, even with just a few breaths. Symptoms are similar to seasickness or alcohol intoxication, and can affect you whether you are underway, moored or anchored. Remember, you cannot see, smell or taste carbon monoxide, so know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and avoid extended use of the transom area when engines are operating. To learn more about how to protect those onboard from exposure to carbon monoxide, visit http://www.uscgboating.org/safety/carbon_monoxide.aspx.
  10. File a float plan. The U.S. Coast Guard recommends that you always tell a friend or family member where you plan to go and when you'll be back. Make it a habit before leaving on any boat trip. The proper officials can be notified promptly if you don't return when expected.


According to Mr. Hostetter, educated and prepared recreational boaters can result in greater overall boating safety. "Another important preparation is to have reliable and comprehensive insurance in place. Few people would drive a car without adequate insurance, yet countless recreational boaters take this risk," he noted.

Boat owners can insure for physical damage coverage to repair or replace the boat if it's damaged or destroyed by a myriad of causes including running aground, fire, theft, lightning, or windstorm. Boat owners may be unaware that liability insurance can provide important coverage including obligations to pay for bodily injury, property damage and pollution as a result of the ownership, operation or maintenance of the watercraft. They can also protect themselves and their passengers by purchasing insurance that will cover medical expenses that become necessary due to bodily injury while the person is boarding, aboard, off-loading or being towed behind the watercraft.

Another point to consider is that boat owners can also have their vessel checked for safety-for free. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons offer Vessel Safety Checks at no cost. Since unsafe boats are a threat to all recreational boaters, it's important for boat owners to make sure their vessel is as safe as possible. For more information, visit the U.S. Coast Guard web site at http://www.uscgboating.org/fedreqs/default.html.

In addition to the boating safety tips above, ACE offers other free preparation guides and information on a wide range of safety and loss prevention topics. Please visit www.acemarineinsurance.com to download these safety brochures, by selecting "Pleasure Boats and Yachts" on the homepage, and clicking on the "Safety and Loss Prevention Tips" link in the "Boater Learning Center" section.

ACE Recreational Marine Insurance, part of ACE Private Risk Services, has been serving marine clients for more than 200 years, since 1792 when its predecessor company wrote its first marine insurance policy in the United States. ACE offers exceptional all-risk insurance coverage to protect the entire spectrum of pleasure yachts and boats, including classic boats, luxury mega-yachts and sailboats, sport fishing boats, ski boats, personal watercraft and select charter vessels. Product highlights are summaries only; please see actual policy for terms and conditions. Products may not be available in all states.

Any summary of information or available coverages is intended as general information and is not intended to amend, alter or modify the actual terms, limits or conditions contained in any policy of insurance or its declarations. Exclusions and limitations may apply to some losses. Coverage may not be available in all states. Coverage is governed solely by the terms and conditions of the policy itself. Insurance buyers should consult their agent, broker or other insurance professional if they have questions about their insurance needs.

ACE Private Risk Services is the high net worth personal insurance business of ACE Group, and provides specialty coverage for homeowners, automobile, recreational marine, umbrella liability and collections insurance for financially successful individuals and families. ACE Group is one of the world's largest multiline property and casualty insurers. With operations in 54 countries, ACE provides commercial and personal property and casualty insurance, personal accident supplemental health insurance, reinsurance, and life insurance to a diverse group of clients. ACE Limited, the parent company of ACE Group, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACE) and is a component of the S&P 500 index. Additional information can be found at www.acegroup.com, or follow ACE on Twitter (News - Alert) https://twitter.com/ACE_GroupNA.

1 http://www.uscgboating.org/assets/1/AssetManager/2013RecBoatingStats.pdf
"Courtesy of the United States Coast Guard

2 United States Power Squadron. www.usps.org


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