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Wake Responsibly: Why Your Boating Habits Matter from an Insurance Perspective

In the warm, sunny months of the year, North Carolina’s public waters become a haven for boaters. It’s a time for adventure, relaxation, and fun. But as we take to the waters, it’s crucial to remember that our actions can have lasting effects on the environment, the safety of others, and even on our insurance coverage.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission recently released a series of recommendations urging boaters to “wake responsibly.” These recommendations serve as a roadmap for boaters to navigate our waters safely and respectfully, minimizing potential issues related to noise, erosion, and property damage.

Why is Waking Responsibly Important?

According to the Commission, boats, especially wake boats that can produce significant wakes at low speeds, can cause property damage and contribute to erosion. In particular, this damage can happen when boaters get too close to the shoreline or make repetitive passes near the same location.

The noise from the boat engines and the music played onboard can also disrupt local communities and wildlife. While these issues might seem minor in the grand scheme, they can have considerable implications from an insurance perspective.

Implications for Insurance

Why should boaters care about these recommendations from an insurance standpoint?

  1. Potential for Liability Claims: When your boat’s wake causes damage to others’ property or causes an injury, you could be held liable. This could lead to costly legal and repair expenses that can strain your financial resources if you need to be adequately insured.
  2. Risk of Policy Cancellation: Insurance companies expect policyholders to act responsibly. Suppose you’re found to be creating an excessive wake that results in repeated claims. In that case, your insurer may decide you’re too high of a risk to insure, leading to policy cancellation.
  3. Higher Premiums: Even if your policy isn’t canceled, repeated claims could lead to higher insurance premiums as you’ll be considered a higher risk.

Insurance carriers are advising more and more homeowners in highly trafficked areas to place cameras on their piers and shoreline to record any issues.

How to Wake Responsibly

The Commission suggests a few simple steps to help boaters wake responsibly:

  • Stay at least 200 feet from the shoreline, docks, or other structures.
  • Keep music at reasonable levels. Sound travels well over water.
  • Minimize repetitive passes on any one portion of the coastline.

The bottom line is this: as boaters, we share a responsibility to respect our environment and consider the potential impact of our actions on others. This includes our fellow boaters, the residents who live near the water, and the insurance providers who offer us protection against unexpected events. By committing to “wake responsibly,” we can help ensure a safer, more enjoyable boating experience for everyone and maintain good standing with our insurance providers.

For more information on responsible boating and its effect on your insurance, feel free to contact our Connor Insurance team or read the full article by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission here.

References: “Boating > Wake Responsibly”. N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Wake Responsibly (ncwildlife.org)

Stay safe, and happy boating!

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