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ACE Recreational Marine Insurance Announces Top Ten Recreational Boating Tips

Recreational boating activity soars during warm weather months, and so do boating accidents and injuries. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s “Boating Statistics 2011,”1 the most recent year available, there are more than 12 million registered recreational boats in the United States. With so many boaters enjoying the waterways, it is no surprise that nearly 4,600 boating accidents were reported in 2011, with far more that go unreported each year. While the number of actual boating accidents decreased by 16 incidents since last year, overall fatalities rose significantly. In 2011, overall boating fatalities rose to 758, the highest number on record since 1998. Another key statistic related to boating accidents is more than 3,040 people required medical treatment beyond first aid. In addition, the total property damage in 2011 from reported accidents was approximately $52 million.

Though the statistics are alarming, the risk of boating injuries and accidents can be minimized. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the vast majority of reported incidents involved factors that were within the control of boat operators. ACE Recreational Marine Insurance, one of the nation’s largest recreational marine insurance providers, and part of the ACE Group, has again released its top ten list detailing tips to help recreational boaters stay safe, thus potentially reducing the number of preventable accidents that may occur each year.

“Since nearly half of all fatal accidents occur over the summer months, there’s no question that taking steps to promote boating safety, especially when waterways are most crowded, can potentially have a significant impact on saving lives. Safe boating should be the aim of all boaters and comes from active participation in ongoing education and training, as well as hands-on boating experience. Understanding and obeying navigational rules and safety procedures has proven to help reduce injuries and property damage,” said Damon R. Hostetter, Senior Vice President, ACE Recreational Marine Insurance.

ACE Recreational Marine Top Ten Recreational Boating Safety Tips

  1. Always wear a life jacket and insist that your crew and guests do the same. Approximately 70 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned in 2011.1 Eighty-four percent of those who drowned were not wearing a life jacket, and 8 out of every 10 boaters who drowned were on vessels less than 21 feet in length. Always have an adequate supply of life jackets aboard. Make sure that children are wearing appropriate life jackets that fit correctly. Drowning was the reported cause of death for approximately 60 percent of the children under the age of 13 who perished in boating accidents in 2011. In cold water areas, life jackets are even more important. A fall into water colder than 60 degrees (Fahrenheit) can induce “cold shock” – a sudden gasping for air that can increase the risk of drowning, especially in older people.
  2. Never drink alcohol while boating. Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor of all fatal boating accidents in 2011. 1 Stay sharp on the water by leaving the alcohol on dry land.
  3. Take a boating safety course. Only eleven percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction.1 You may even qualify for a reduced insurance rate if you complete a safety course. Contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadron chapter,2 or visit http://www.uscgboating.org/ for information on courses in your area.
  4. Stay in control by taking charge of your safety and that of your passengers. Boaters between the ages of 36 and 55 comprise approximately 30 percent of all the operators, and accounted for the highest rate of accidents, injuries and boating fatalities in 2011.1 Don’t forget that safety begins with you.
  5. Understand and obey boating safety recommendations and navigational rules. Imagine the mayhem that would result if car drivers disregarded highway traffic laws. Know and understand boating safety procedures and rules of navigation before taking to the water, and practice them without fail.
  6. Operate at a safe speed and always maintain a proper lookout. Overall, operator inattention, operator inexperience, excess speed and improper outlook were the leading contributing factors in all reported accidents.1 Know your boat’s limitations as well as your own. Take note of visibility, traffic density and the proximity of navigation hazards like shoals, rocks or floating objects. Don’t invite a collision by going faster than is prudent.
  7. Check the weather forecast. A calm day can quickly turn ugly on the water. Keep an eye out for changing weather conditions and stay on top of the forecast while boating. Promptly heed all weather and storm advisories.
  8. Hypothermia is a significant risk factor for injury or even death while boating. Cold water accelerates the onset and progression of hypothermia since body heat can be lost 25 times faster in cold water than in cold air. The closer you are to rescue support, the better your chances are. Therefore, an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or Global Positioning System interfaced Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB/GPIRB), and/or a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), is recommended especially when boating in waters that are below 59ºF. These safety devices should be considered when boating in waters of any temperature. Boaters can be at risk of hypothermia in warm waters as well, where expected time of survival can be as little as two hours in waters as warm as 60 -70ºF. To learn hypothermia risk factors and how to better your chances of survival, visit: http://seagrant.umn.edu/coastal_communities/hypothermia.
  9. Use a carbon monoxide (CO) detector. Carbon Monoxide can harm and even kill you inside or on the deck of your boat. All internal combustion engines emit carbon monoxide, an odorless, tasteless, colorless, poisonous gas that can make you sick in seconds and kill in minutes. Even just a few breaths in high enough concentrations can be fatal. Carbon Monoxide symptoms are similar to seasickness or alcohol intoxication, and can affect you whether you are underway, moored or anchored. Remember, you cannot see, smell or taste carbon monoxide, so know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and avoid extended use of the transom area when engines are operating. To learn more about the symptoms of carbon monoxide sickness and how to keep you and others safe, visit www.uscgboating.org/safety/carbon_monoxide.aspx.
  10. File a float plan. The U.S. Coast Guard recommends that you always tell a friend or family member where you plan to go and when you’ll be back. Make it a habit before leaving on any boat trip. The proper officials can be notified promptly if you don’t return when expected.

According to Mr. Hostetter, educated recreational boaters can result in greater boating responsibility while on the water. “Another important preparation is to have reliable and comprehensive insurance in place. Few people would drive a car without adequate insurance, yet countless recreational boaters take this risk,” he noted.

Boat owners can insure for physical damage coverage to repair or replace the boat if it’s damaged or destroyed by a myriad of causes including running aground, fire, theft, lightning, or windstorm. Covered items include the boat, motors and trailer and other equipment normally required for the operation, navigation or maintenance of the watercraft. Boat owners may be unaware that liability insurance can provide important coverage including obligations to pay for bodily injury, property damage and pollution as a result of the ownership, operation or maintenance of the watercraft. They can also protect themselves and their passengers by purchasing insurance that will cover medical expenses that become necessary due to bodily injury while the person is boarding, aboard, off-loading or being towed behind the watercraft. Boat owners can also insure against the loss of personal property and the costs of towing and emergency assistance.

Another point to consider is that boat owners can also have their vessel checked for safety—for free. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons offer Vessel Safety Checks at no cost. In addition, their staff will check your boat’s equipment and provide information about its use, safety procedures and applicable regulations. Since unsafe boats are a threat to all recreational boaters, it’s important for boat owners to make sure their vessel is as safe as possible. For more information, visit the U.S. Coast Guard web site at http://www.uscgboating.org/fedreqs/default.html.

In addition to the boating safety tips above, ACE also offers free preparation guides including, “Hurricanes and Severe Storms” and “Hurricane Preparation Tips for Boaters,” which include detailed recommendations and tips for the owners of trailerable and non-trailerable boats to undertake prior, during and after a storm. Please visit www.acemarineinsurance.com to download these safety brochures, by selecting the “Customer Resources” link under “Recreational Marine Products & Services” on the homepage, clicking on the “Boating Safety and Loss Prevention Tips” link, and then choose the brochure by title.

ACE Recreational Marine Insurance, part of the ACE Private Risk Services business of the ACE Group, has been serving marine clients for more than 200 years, since 1792 when its predecessor company wrote the very first marine insurance policy issued in the United States. ACE offers exceptional all-risk insurance coverage to protect the entire spectrum of pleasure yachts and boats, including classic boats, luxury mega-yachts and sailboats, sport fishing boats, ski boats, personal watercraft, high performance vessels and select charter vessels. Product highlights are summaries only; please see actual policy for terms and conditions. Products may not be available in all states. Insurance policies issued by ACE Recreational Marine are underwritten by the insurance companies of ACE USA that are rated* A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best Company and AA- (Very Strong) by Standard & Poor's. * Company ratings as of July 1, 2012.

About ACE Private Risk Services

ACE Private Risk Services is the ACE Group’s high-net-worth personal insurance business, which provides specialty coverage for homeowners, automobile, recreational marine, umbrella liability and collections insurance for individuals and families with emerging and established wealth. Policies are issued by Bankers Standard Insurance Co. and ACE Insurance Co. of the Midwest. Additional information can be found at: www.aceprs.com. The ACE Group is one of the world’s largest multiline property and casualty insurers. With operations in 53 countries, ACE provides commercial and personal property and casualty insurance, personal accident supplemental health insurance, reinsurance and life insurance to a diverse group of clients. ACE Limited, the parent company of the ACE Group, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ACE) and is a component of the S&P 500 index. Additional information can be found at: www.acegroup.com.

1 http://www.uscgboating.org/statistics/accident_statistics.aspx Courtesy of the United States Coast Guard

2 United States Power Squadron.www.usps.org

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