Safety Precautions Can Prevent Tragedy in the Water, Says Auto Club

(LOS ANGELES, May 24, 2006) — For those planning to take to the water on a boat, Jet Ski? or other watercraft during Memorial Day, practicing safe habits can help you avoid tragic or costly accidents, advises the Automobile Club of Southern California.

"People can get caught up in the fun and excitement of water activities and forget to put safety first," said Cortland Ray, vice president for insurance claims. The Auto Club insures more than 30,000 recreational watercraft in Southern California.

"Water safety doesn't require a lot of time and effort — just some caution and common sense," Ray added. The Auto Club offers the following safety tips for enjoying water activities:

  • Don't operate a boat or other watercraft if you have been drinking alcohol or using drugs. They impair reaction, timing and judgment. In waters that are overseen solely by the states, the states have the authority to enforce their own BUI statutes. In state waters that are also subject to U.S. jurisdiction, there is concurrent jurisdiction. That means if a boater is apprehended under Federal law in these waters, the Coast Guard will (unless precluded by state law) request that state law enforcement officers take the intoxicated boater into custody.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and watch for people in the water, other boaters and personal watercraft.
  • To avoid injury, turn off the engine when individuals are in the water.
  • Don't stand in or on a vessel while it is in motion.
  • Try to minimize distractions while driving a boat, just like you would as a car driver. If towing a skier, watch the horizon and let one of your passengers observe the skier.
  • Don't' overload the vessel. Not only is it unsafe, but you could be cited by the coast Guard or local authorities. Always secure loose items in the boat.
  • Watch the oil, temperature, and other gauges for signs of problems. Ignoring warning signs can result in costly repairs.
  • Be sure to check the engine compartment to see if the battery is secure and the cables are tight. Check fuel line for leaks or signs of wear or cracking.
  • Check the vessel's fire extinguishers to make sure they are not expired.

Auto Club Watercraft safety tips

  • When towing a watercraft, don't cut corners short. Watch carefully when backing up and be aware of what is behind you.
  • Owners of boats and other watercraft may want to consider protecting themselves and other with insurance coverage.

"Just like insurance for your car or home, insurance coverage for watercraft can protect you against expenses resulting from theft," said Robert Siglock, vice president of insurance product management.. "Coverage against potentially large expenses can provide you with peace of mind while you're enjoying activities with family and friends."

Insurance policies are available to cover most power boats or sailboats and may also include trailers, Jet Skis?, Ski Doos? or other personal watercraft. Coverage may include: financial loss from physical damage or theft on the road, in the water or in storage; injuries to other people and their property and medical coverage for you and others when towing water-skiers from powerboats.

The physical damage portion of insurance policies covers costs of repair or replacement, less depreciation, of the boat or trailer if they are damaged or in an accident. Coverage includes built-in or permanently attached equipment, such as radios or other electronic gear.

The liability portion of insurance policies covers damages to property or injuries to others, including passengers and swimmers, for which the policyholder is legally liable. Most insurers do not provide medical coverage on Jet Ski? or personal watercraft, so check with an agent about details.

The Auto Club offers watercraft insurance services from the Interinsurance Exchange of the Automobile Club and other insurance companies to qualified members. Requests for free quotes are available at the Auto Club's web site at or by visiting any Auto Club office in Southern California.

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest AAA affiliate, has been serving members since 1900. Today, Auto Club members benefit by the organization's roadside assistance, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services and automotive pricing, buying and financing programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's web site at