More people are taking to the water in PWCs, or personal watercrafts. Their size, speed, agility, and ease of handling make them fun for all ages. All that speed and power, however, can lead to mishaps. The National Institute of Health reports that as the PWC popularity rises, so do accidents and injuries.
Personal watercrafts appeal to the experienced boater, but also to the younger, less-experienced crowd. Popular PWC models on the market include Jet Ski, WaveRunner, and Sea-Doo.
Some of the newer PWC models have three times more horsepower than original Jet Skis and can reach 60 miles per hour.
Getting good coverage, particularly for medical expenses and liability costs, is critical. You'll want to work with an independent insurance agent to find the coverage you need. They can help you make sure you’re covered for everything from hospitalizations to major liability claims.
Top 3 Causes of PWC Accidents
- Operator error
- Inattention and lack of experience
- Inappropriate speed
Operator error accounts for 90 percent of accidents with personal watercrafts. When you think about the number of speed boats, water skiers and other water enthusiasts on the water at any given time, it is not surprising to know that a lack of attention or skill can lead to errors and accidents.
What Does PWC Insurance Cover?
Because of the unique characteristics of a PWC and accidents involving these crafts, many insurers have limited or excluded coverage for PWCs on other policies. Don’t assume your homeowners or boat policy covers PWCs.
To make sure you are adequately protected, you should discuss the following types of coverage and issues with your independent insurance agent:
- Property damage: PWCs can collide with a host of objects – boats, floating rafts, other watercrafts and the shore. Your coverage may include reimbursement for damage to the PWC from accidents, collision, fire, theft or vandalism. Make sure this coverage applies while on the water as well as when in storage and en route between the two.
- Medical Payments Coverage: This helps cover medical expenses for anyone who is injured while using your PWC.
- Uninsured and Underinsured Boater: If you have an accident caused by another boat or PWC that is uninsured or underinsured, you are financially at risk for the cost of your injuries and damages unless you have this type of protection.
- Pollution Coverage: If you are held liable for pollution cleanup, this coverage comes into play. For example, your PWC might leak oil or gas into the water, resulting in cleanup costs.
- Towing and Assistance: If your PWC becomes inoperable while on the water, you’ll need assistance and maybe a tow to shore.
- Wreckage Removal: In the event of a serious accident, your PWC may sink. Some communities require an owner to recover sunken watercraft. The coverage typically includes recovering, towing and destroying a damaged PWC.
- Watersport Liability: Some PWCs have enough power to reach 60 miles per hour, and can pull a skier or wakeboarder. If you own one of these models, make sure your liability coverage covers injuries, liability claims, and legal fees.
- Accessory Coverage: When you purchase a PWC, you may decide to get a trailer to transport it. You may also purchase towable water toys, such as inner tubes, wakeboards and skis. The costs of these accessories can add up, so you may want to inquire about insuring them. If they are damaged or stolen, you can recover some of the cost.
When you get PWC insurance quotes, it is important to compare coverage options and pricing from various companies. Each insurance company will handle PWCs differently. Most policies cover liability, but the details vary. Also, each specific company will offer different kinds of optional coverage.
Liability Coverage is Especially Crucial for PWCs
Liability insurance covers damage you cause to others or to their property, and the costs of your legal defense if you are taken to court.
Because PWCs accommodate one to four riders, multiple people can be at risk in any given accident, even involving just one watercraft. If you're pulling a skier or wakeboarder you're responsible for them as well.
Riders can become injured when bouncing over waves or overturning. Drivers, especially inexperienced drivers, may not have the skill to make quick decisions to avoid swimmers, other watercraft, docks, piers, or shallow water.
Fractures and soft tissue injuries are among the most common PWC incidents. With the high cost of medical care, even a comparatively minor injury can cost thousands of dollars out of pocket without adequate bodily injury coverage.
In addition to the cost associated with injuries, you may be liable for damage to another’s property, as well.
How Much Does PWC Insurance Cost?
The average annual cost of PWC coverage can cost anywhere from $150 to $500 per year for a typical plan. The cost of PWC insurance depends on a number of factors such as:
- Year, make and model of the PWC
- Horsepower, engine type and maximum operating speed
- Value of your PWC
- Any modifications made to the PWC
- Boater safety courses you’ve taken
Additionally, your PWC insurance rates will depend on the amount and type of coverage you choose. If you only want to cover your machine in the event it is damaged or you cause injury to another person, you can get a minimum amount of coverage.
You will pay more for insurance if you also want full replacement cost coverage for your Jet Ski and increased liability limits.
How to Save Money on Your PWC Insurance?
Everyone likes to save a little bit of money on insurance without sacrificing coverage. Fortunately, with PWC insurance there are a few ways you can cut costs.
- Purchase seasonal insurance: Some insurance companies will allow your insurance to fluctuate if you're not using your machine year-round.
- Bundle: Bundling your PWC insurance with other policies like auto and home can decrease your costs.
- Stay safe: Insurance claims make your premiums increase. Practice safe driving while operating your PWC to avoid accidents.
- Complete a safety course: Many insurance companies will offer a discount if you complete a PWC safety course.
- Increase deductible: Traditionally, the higher your deductible is the lower your insurance premium is.
3 Tips for Protecting Riders
- Match the PWC power to the rider’s skill level
- Make sure riders have training in handling skills and avoiding accidents
- PWC renters are at a higher risk; get specific safety tips on the watercraft you rent
Benefits of an Independent Insurance Agent
When you, your family and friends are having fun on a hot summer day, the last thing you need to worry about is your insurance. Let an independent insurance agent do that for you, so you can have peace of mind.
Independent insurance agents have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best coverage, accessibility and competitive pricing while working for you. Find an independent insurance agent in your community here.