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  A Boatload of Trouble  
  by Cindy Parroné |  

Whether for pleasure or fishing, boating is fun! The many lakes and rivers of Southern Illinois are enjoyed by residents and tourists alike. As a matter of fact, you can spot a boat or watercraft being towed down the road for hunting or fishing at any time of the year. Summertime, however, is the peak time of boat usage since so many people enjoy water skiing, tubing, fishing or just joy-riding. On one hand, the State of Illinois requires a license and insurance to drive an auto while on the other hand there is no such requirement to drive a boat.

With this in mind, one can imagine the number of uninsured boats and watercraft on the water. The risk is high for something to go wrong and that the involved parties have no coverage. In addition, your own boat and/or watercraft may represent a significant financial expenditure. The risk of loss in the form of bodily injury or damage to your or another’s boat or watercraft is also substantial.

It is strongly recommended that you purchase boat insurance before you even think about putting your boat or personal watercraft into the water. Without liability, medical and uninsured boater coverage, you could be in a boatload of trouble! Note that simply adding your boat or watercraft to your homeowners insurance does not provide all of these protections.

In order to view boating accidents in a big-picture national frame of reference, the United States Coast Guard published the Recreational Boating Statistics 2016 as follows:


Top Ten Known Primary Contributing Factors of Accidents

Accident Rank

Contributing Factor

Number of Accidents

Number of Deaths

Number of Injuries


Operator inattention





Operator inexperience





Improper lookout





Excessive speed





Machinery Failure





Alcohol use










Navigation rules violation





Hazardous waters





Force of wave/wake





For a more narrowly focused view, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) collected data that shows the following: 3,569 injuries; 1,300 fatalities; and 5,792 accidents reported on Illinois waterways 1964-2015. In fiscal year 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 49 injuries, 14 deaths and 74 accidents. Six of the 14 fatalities were tied to the use of alcohol and drugs. During this same time-period, the IDNR issued 1,415 citations, 4,518 warnings and 179 operating under the influence tickets. When you take into account the fact that there are 252,094 boats registered in this state, the sheer magnitude of the numbers causes us to think about the potential for accidents. Now, knowing the number of incidences happening on the water, you have a strong reason to obtain boat insurance to protect yourself and anyone on or around your watercraft.

As an explanation, when discussing boat insurance, many people will say they have a cheap jon boat that is not worth insuring. If that is the case, then don’t obtain full coverage for that boat. However, you still need injury protection! Bodily Injury Liability insurance will provide coverage for injuries caused by someone on your boat or trailer to someone that is not in or on the insured boat or trailer. To illustrate, a boat on boat collision where occupants of the other boat are injured serves as an example of a bodily injury liability claim. Having this type of coverage will protect you and prevent a possible significant out-of-pocket and unexpected expense.

Another type of insurance is Medical Payments and this will provide coverage to anyone aboard the insured boat or trailer who might be injured in the course of legal boating. Some carriers require the purchase of water sports liability if you want to tow a skier or tuber. One of the worst types of boat accidents are propeller strikes. Can you imagine if one of the neighbor kids (or your own child) falls overboard and gets struck with the propeller? For your own peace of mind, please don’t put your watercraft in the water without this coverage.

Yet another type of insurance is Uninsured Boater which will provide coverage for the care of someone on your insured boat or trailer that is injured by the actions of an uninsured boater. This may be the most valuable part of the policy. Boat insurance is not required, therefore, there are many boaters operating their watercraft without insurance. You might ponder whether boat operators who aren’t responsible enough to carry insurance protection are responsible enough to operate a boat safely.

The last type of insurance to be mentioned in this article is Property Damage Liability. This protection will cover damage to the property of others caused by someone on your boat or trailer.

To close, here are some common sense tips to make your boating experience a pleasant adventure rather than a boatload of trouble:

  • The boat engine should be off when passengers are boarding or disembarking.
  • Don’t start the boat with the engine in gear.
  • All passengers should be seated properly before taking off.
  • Recognize markers denoting swimming and diving areas and avoid those places.
  • When approaching docks or congested areas, slow down.
  • Wear a properly fitted and Coast Guard approved personal flotation device. 13/14 of the watercraft fatalities in Illinois last year could have been prevented if the victims had been wearing a life jacket.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or take drugs while boating.

A final thought: Enjoy the exhilaration of boating, practice boating safety and know what you’re doing!

For information about Boating Insurance Contact:

Cindy Parroné, Marine Specialist Agent

Diederich Insurance Agency, LLC

Local Phone 618.457.6721

Toll-Free 800.457.7790

Email cparrone@diederichgroup.com


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