JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Memorial Day weekend is not only the kickoff to the busy summer travel season, but it is also the unofficial start of boating season. Being safe on the water is a primary concern, but it's important to have the proper insurance coverage in case you are involved in an accident.
"More boats in the water means a higher likelihood of a boating crash this holiday weekend," said Gene Calkins, vice president AAA. "Rivers and lakes will be loaded with boats. So, it's a good idea to have insurance in case the unexpected should happen."
In 2014, there were 4,064 accidents with 610 deaths, 2,678 injuries, and approximately $39 million dollars of property damage as a result of recreational boating accidents, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. There are an estimated 11.8 million recreational vessels registered in the United States.
However, only two-thirds of boat owners in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee have boat insurance according to AAA statistics
"Unfortunately, not everyone has a proper insurance policy to cover the cost of any injuries or property damage that may occur," Calkins continued. "Many people wrongly assume their homeowner's insurance is all the coverage they need for their boat. However, most homeowner's policies have minimal coverage for small boats with either no engine or a very small engine."
Alcohol use ranks fifth in total boating accidents (277), but is the lead contributing factor in accidents involving deaths (108).
"Drinking while driving is just as illegal in a boat as it is in a car," Calkins said. "What's worse is many boaters who spent the day drinking on the water, still have to drive their car home from the docks. Whether you are on the road or the water this Memorial Day weekend, be sure to have a designated driver if you plan to drink."