If you know your boat, the rules of the water, and have completed the necessary boating courses, we hope you’ll never have to know the information in this blog.

The fact is, the US Coast Guard counted nearly 4,3000 boating accidents in 2017, which accounted for 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries, and approximately $46,000 in property damage. Even if you’re an experience boater, things outside of your control can occur, and it’s important you know know the appropriate steps to take if you’re in a boating accident.

Passenger safety

The most important step you should take before any other action is to make sure your passengers are safe and don’t require any immediate medical attention. Make sure everyone is onboard, and if possible, drop anchor so you can focus on the problem at hand rather than driving the boat.

Get help

If your boat is no longer operational or anyone on board is injured, call 911 if you have cell reception. You can also use a VHF radio to make a distress call on channel 16. If you’re calling by radio, you may get help faster as nearby boaters may also be able to hear you.

Capture key information

Like you would in a car accident, it’s important you collect some valuable information if your boating accident involves another boat. Jot down the other boat operator’s personal and insurance information and capture details like the time and location of the accident. Get contact information for anyone who may have witnessed the accident as well. If you’re able, take photos of both boats and the damage they incurred.

If your accident meets any of the following criteria, federal law also requires you to submit an accident report to the State reporting authority.

  • A person dies
  • A person disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury
  • A person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Damage to vessels and other property totals $2,000 (lower amounts in some states and
  • The boat is destroyed.

Talk to your insurance company

Filing a claim with your insurance company is never fun, but doing so soon after the accident can help things go more smoothly and also help you get your boat back on the water in a timely manner.