Smart Summer Solutions for the Wise Watercraft Worshiper

Boat and Personal Watercraft Safety & Insurance in PennsylvaniaIt’s that time of the year again when we break our boats and personal watercraft out of the garage or drydock and start fishing, sailing, water skiing… all the things we’ve been dreaming about doing all winter long (and this was an especially long one). But before we get too excited, we need to properly prepare ourselves and our watercraft properly so we can relax and enjoy our time on the water.
In 2012, the Coast Guard counted 4515 accidents that involved 651 deaths. While some marine vehicles like personal watercraft can seem small and harmless, 10 feet on average, many of these vehicles have the horsepower of a large outboard engine and the acceleration of a motorcycle. Underestimating their power and capability can be a tragic mistake.
But there are ways you can prepare yourself before you launch. Knowing your rules and obligations and explaining them to your guests is a good place to start. You may have assumed some of these rules were only for boats but the following rules apply to personal watercraft, as well.
Personal Watercraft Requirements

  • A life jacket for each operating passenger, and person being towed
  • A Coast Guard-approved B-1 fire extinguisher
  • An approved sound-signaling device such as a whistle or horn
  • An emergency engine cutoff lanyard attached to the operator
  • Proper display of registration numbers, letters and validation decals
  • Vessel registration, to be displayed when requested
  • A functioning backfire flame arrestor and passive ventilation system

Personal Watercraft Safety Suggestions
Following these recommendations are a good idea, as well:

  • Hand-held VHF radio, and a cell phone as a backup
  • A basic first-aid kit, sunscreen, and burn cream
  • A dewatering device such as a hand operated bilge pump
  • An anchor and enough anchor line for your area
  • If pulling a skier or other tow-sport participant, a skier-down flag, ano server over a certain age, and rear–view mirrors may also be required. Even if they’re not required, they’re good to have.
  • And finally, when operating on inland waters, it’s recommended you have a suitable, daytime distress signal such as flares, an orange flag, or signal mirror.

We also suggest you check with your state to see what the age requirements are for operating boats and personal watercraft. In Pennsylvania the requirements are:
Personal Watercraft Age Requirements

  • All PWC (personal watercraft) operators, regardless of age, must have a Boating Safety Education Certificate.
  • Persons 11 years of age or younger may NOT operate.
  • Persons 12 through 15 years of age may NOT operate with any passengers on board 15 years of age or younger, or rent a PWC.

Boats with 0-25hp Age Requirements

  • None

Boats with >25hp Age Requirements 

  • Persons 11 years of age or younger may NOT operate.
  • Greater than 25 hp boatPersons born on or after January 1, 1982, may not operate unless they have obtained and have in possession a Boating Safety Education Certificate.

Boat & Personal Watercraft Insurance
Now that you have your safety items all checked off, finding the best insurance for your boat or personal watercraft is the next thing you need to do to in order to relax and have a good time on the water this summer. But finding the proper boat insurance can be difficult and there are many factors to consider when choosing a boat insurance company.
Factors to Consider
Is your boat stored at home or at a marina? Do you tow your boat often? Did you make modifications to your vehicle? All of these are factors in deciding what company to choose and not every insurance company is equal when it comes to boat insurance.
What’s the Difference?
Are you looking for a company with high customer service ratings? Are you looking for a senior citizen discount? Are you looking for an insurance company that will give you a lot of options? Or, are you simply looking for a company that will just give you the cheapest, basic insurance.
Whatever you’re looking for, it’s always best to discuss your options with professionals. We here at Gallen Insurance pride ourselves on helping our customers find the right coverage at the best price. Feel free to write, call or visit us for more information.

Chantelle Kingsbury - Gallen Insurance - Reading, PA

Chantelle Kingsbury, CISR
Insurance Consultant
2237 Lancaster Pike
Shillington, PA 19607
Ph~ 610-898-6531

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