What are a few of your favorite summertime activities? In Oklahoma, you can find plenty of diversions to enjoy during the long days and hot weather. Weekend trips to the lake, afternoons spent poolside and summer holidays fill our free time during the sizzling months. But fun in the sun carries many risks. Before you hit the water, make sure you’re safe and that your investments are protected.
Boats and Personal Watercraft
Boats are not generally covered by homeowners or auto insurance. However, if they are, coverage limits are often low. Your homeowners policy might cover a small boat for damages, but will usually fall under special limits on certain items of personal property. It is standard for most policies to set the limit for any type of covered loss at $1,000. It should be noted that liability coverage for watercraft is excluded if the loss occurs away from the insured premises. Large boats will be excluded from your homeowners policy for both property and liability coverage. Check on a separate policy that covers both physical damage to the boat and liability. Personal watercrafts, such as Jet Skis and Wave Runners, will likely require separate policies.
Personal watercraft policies will cover bodily injury, property damage, guest passenger liability, medical payments and theft. A standard policy may include deductibles of $250 for property damage, $500 for theft and $1,000 for medical payments. Additionally, liability limits often start at $15,000 and can be increased to $300,000, which will provide financial protection if your personal watercraft is involved in an accident. Also, check on water sports liability, which is typically included and covers risks associated with boating like waterskiing.
- To safely enjoy your time on the water, practice these safety tips:
- Stay alert! Be aware of what is going on around you and never follow directly behind another personal watercraft. Be watchful of other watercraft, swimmers, divers, water skiers and fishermen. Eighty percent of all injuries and fatalities occur when two vessels collide with one another.
- Learn how to perform a vessel safety check before taking to the water, which will help you navigate should you encounter problem situations. All vessels using flammable liquid as fuel are required to have the proper type, size and number of fire extinguishers on board.
- Operator errors account for 70 percent of boating accidents. Look into taking a safety course to brush up on boating instructions.
- No matter what activity you have planned – boating, fishing sailing, etc. – always remember to wear a life jacket every time you are on the water. Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved and fits properly. Double-check that your life jacket is appropriate for your favorite boating activities.
Pools are a great way to relax and cool down from the summer heat. But all pools, small or large, can be dangerous and should be properly insured. Owning a pool increases your liability risk, so it may be advisable to purchase additional insurance. Most homeowners policies include a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability protection. You may want to consider increasing the amount to $300,000 or $500,000. It may be worth looking into purchasing an umbrella policy to provide liability coverage above what your homeowners policy offers. It is also important to make sure you have enough coverage to replace the pool in the event of a natural disaster. Insurance carriers can deny coverage or cancel your policy if you do not follow the policy safety guidelines or do not inform the company when you install a pool. Make sure you comply with local safety standards and building codes set forth by your town or municipality, which may include installing a fence of a certain size, locks, decks and pool safety equipment. Other pool safety tips include:
- Consider building fencing around the pool area to keep people from using the pool without your knowledge. Other safety measures can include door alarms, locks and safety covers.
- Never leave small children unsupervised and keep toys or floats out of the pool when not in use to prevent temptation for toddlers trying to reach them.
- In case of an emergency, know how to shut off pool filters and other mechanical devices. Keep children away from them as the suction force may injure them or cause accidental drowning.
- Check the pool area regularly for glass bottles, toys or other potential accident hazards.
- Keep an eye on the weather at all times. Excessive heat can cause dizziness, which can be dangerous around a pool. Have a strict “no-swim” policy for your family during rain or lightning storms.
- Clearly post emergency numbers on the phone in the event of an accident and keep a first aid kit, floatation devices and reaching poles near the pool.
Nearly all summertime outdoor activities come with increased risks. A call to your insurance agent is always a good first step in making sure you are protecting yourself and your family. For more information, visit the Oklahoma Insurance Department online at http://www.ok.gov/oid/.