Thursday, August 20, 2009

Loudoun Insurance - Don't Float Your Boat - Until You Know It's Protected

Here's a great and timely summertime article about boat insurance from your South Riding/Loudoun Insurance agent over at Allstate, Khalid Umerani...probably not relevant for our "fleet" of pathetic canoes and rowboats; but certainly applicable to all those Northern Virginians who keep their "real" boats over in Annapolis, Solomons Island/PAX River, Ocean City or more locally near Alexandria, Occoquan or Lake Anna.

Americans love to take to the water because it provides a feeling of freedom and a sense of adventure (and perhaps a crab or two!). But boating can have a dark side, too. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 5,191 boating accidents reported in 2007 and Fairfax & Loudoun County boat owners aren't immune. However, this is probably only the tip of the iceberg. The Coast Guard believes that more than 80 percent of all boating accidents go unreported.

Given this level of risk for accidents, it would make sense that boat owners would look for a way to protect themselves, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. A study conducted by Progressive Insurance revealed that 29 percent of U.S. boat owners don’t own a separate watercraft policy. That’s probably because boat owners assume that their craft is covered by their personal auto policy or their homeowner’s policy. This is a mistake that can cost them big time. (Contact NOVA Loudoun Insurance at www.south-riding-insurance.com or www.loudoun-insurance.com for more details on boat insurance).

The standard auto policy covers the boat trailer for liability with the option to add coverage for physical damage. The boat itself, however, is not covered for liability or damage.

Some homeowner's policies offer coverage for physical damage for boats, but only for smaller vessels. The typical homeowner’s policy in the Chantilly / South Riding areas contains a special property limit of $1,500 on watercraft, which doesn't begin to equal the dollar value of most boats (except perhaps some aging canoes, kayaks or sunfish!). In addition, the covered perils specific to the boat are also greatly restricted.

There is also liability coverage available for boats under the majority of homeowner’s policies, but once again, it is only applicable to smaller watercraft. The only exception is a boat with an outboard motor. That means that any type of boat you own that is powered by an inboard or inboard-outboard motor is excluded from liability coverage under the homeowner's policy.

Because most boat owners are unaware how large a property and liability loss they expose themselves to without proper insurance, the Institutional Risk Management Institute (IRMI) has created a list of loss scenarios that demonstrate the need for specialized boat owners coverage:

· Your cruiser collides with a speedboat whose operator fails to yield the right of way, causing extensive damage to your boat. The owner of the speedboat does not have any insurance coverage.

· An expensive bass boat you just purchased is stolen from your home.

· Your 27-foot-long sailboat is damaged by a major hailstorm while docked at the marina.

· Your sport fishing boat is struck by lightning, incapacitating its electrical system.

· Your son's friend is water skiing behind your boat and he falls into the lake, injuring himself, due to the excessive speed of the boat.

· You negligently cause another boat to overturn to avoid a collision.

· Your outboard motor explodes, seriously injuring your next-door neighbor.

For more information on all your family insurance needs, from boat to homeowner's coverage and long-term care insurance, contact Khalid Umerani, NOVA Insurance Group, right here in Chantilly / South Riding VA.

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