A favorite summer pastime is a day on the water. The exhilaration that comes from the wind blowing in your face; the serenity of floating languidly on the waves, it’s easy to see why boating is so popular. Yet, operating watercraft comes with its share of challenges too. And if you ever find yourself in a boating accident, here’s what to do:

Assess the Situation

Similar to a car accident, it’s important to first take a moment to see the situation you and other involved parties are in. Check to make sure everyone on your boat and other boats is okay and don’t require medical attention. This includes checking to make sure no one fell in the water as a result of the accident. In the event someone has, your priority should be to help people back onto one of the boats, provided at least one floats. If someone suffers an injury, you’ll want to assess its severity. Contact the Coast Guard if someone is unresponsive or there are multiple serious injuries. Meanwhile, for minor cuts and scrapes use a first-aid kit to clean up the wounds until you can reach land. Next, check the area you’re in. Is it in a path where boats travel through regularly? If the answer is yes, then you should try to move the watercraft out of well-traveled lanes to avoid more collisions.

Gather Information

After ensuring everyone involved is okay and is on a floating watercraft, your next step is to gather information from everyone involved in the accident. Information can include the following:

  • Personal info such as telephone numbers, names, and addresses for boat owners, passengers, and eyewitnesses
  • The insurance information of all boat owners involved in the crash
  • Registration numbers of all watercraft
  • This is also a great time to take pictures of each boat, noting the damages incurred. This can prove invaluable to your insurance provider at the time of claim.

This is also a great time to take pictures of each boat, noting the damages incurred. This can prove invaluable to your insurance provider at the time of claim.

Contact the Coast Guard

From there, it’s important to contact the Coast Guard if the accident is severe enough. By law, the Coast Guard requires you to file an accident report if there was a fatality, any boat involved in the accident incurred more than $2,000 in damages or if a person had injuries that required more than first-aid treatment. During the accident report, the Coast Guard asks questions to determine the cause of the accident. While it’s important, to be honest in detailing how the accident went down, it’s important to refrain from admitting guilt or accusing others since anything you say to the Coast Guard could be used in court.

Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company

After filing the accident report, contact your insurance company. Explain the situation, the damage involved, and if anyone requires medical treatment. If you took any pictures of the crash, you can provide them at this time as well. Ultimately, by being thorough, you and others can keep each other safe during what could be a dangerous event.


Before you go aboard, make sure you have the right insurance coverage. Contact an independent Cole Harrison agent today to have them give your boating insurance a fresh perspective.


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