Claims: Trends and Trips
We are approaching the end of another boating season – without a doubt the busiest we have ever seen. The season was fantastic; some of the best boating weather we have had in years. Unfortunately this has also meant the busiest claims year we have had in a long time. Lots of boaters out enjoying their boats means more potential for problems on the water. Claims this season ranged from collision with objects, to storm damage, to fire and theft. The claims we saw this year are not out of the ordinary – we see these types of claims all the time. What was unusual was the frequency. The sheer number of claims we saw this year was out of the ordinary. This was a common theme throughout the marine industry in Ontario.
You may be thinking ‘typical insurance company, blaming the consumer for claims’. Now is the time to explain a little about why claims levels are important to everyone and ultimately, how insurance works. When a claim happens, there are two levels affected, you the individual policyholder, and all policyholders. First, if you have a claim on your boat, you will be subject to your deductible, an added cost to your boating expenses for that year. Secondly, at renewal next year you will not qualify for your claims free discounts, resulting in an increase in the premium for that renewal term. In other words, your insurance costs will be going up. If you have multiple claims, not only does the rate keep going up but you could face non-renewal by your insurer. When there are a lot of claims in any one year, all policyholders are affected as there may be a rate increase across the board. (The underlying principal of insurance is ‘the many pay for the few’). We understand that some situations are out of your control and claims happen- that’s why you have insurance- but you want to stay claims free whenever possible.
What can you as a boater do to help ensure you’re in the best position possible to avoid a claim situation? First, take the time to learn about your boat and the water you’ll be boating on. Your local dealer is the best resource to help you get started. When they sell you your boat take them up on the offer to take you out and show you the boat, how it works, how it handles when docking, and how to tie up and secure your boat. Tap into the dealer’s knowledge and experience. Have the dealer take you around your lake and show you what hazards to avoid, spend some time with your dealer looking at the chart of your lake to better understand the water you boat on. In many cases these dealers have years of experience boating in your area and have hundreds of clients that all started just like you. If you still don’t feel comfortable, spend more time getting to know the boat and the water even if it means paying for a few extra hours of training – it’s worth it. If the dealer can’t provide the extra time perhaps the dealer recommend a local captain you can hire to take you out and teach you.
Learning the ins and outs of boating is the best way to protect yourself from a claim and keep your family safe and secure on the water.