Boating safety and insurance 101
Feeling the call of the water? We understand.
But there’s a lot of training and safety regulations you’ll need to know before you can get behind the helm.
First, you must obtain your Pleasure Craft Operators Card (PCOC) to legally operate a motorboat in Canada. This is done by passing a boating safety test, usually taken at the end of a boating safety course provided by accredited course providers. Your boating licence, unlike your driver’s licence, is free and for life. It must be on board with you at all times.
READ MORE: Download the Safe Boating Guide
It’s important to remember, anyone driving a boat without a licence not only risks a $250 fine, but may also void any insurance policy in place.
There are also further courses, including obtaining a certificate to operate a marine radio, advanced boating safety and navigational courses that can be taken to further hone your skills. Canadian Power and Sail Squadron offers many such courses throughout the country. Many insurers offer a discount for having completed such courses.
When you’re ready to purchase a boat, there’s a range of factors that can affect your boating insurance policy. These can include things like the size of the boat; its value; age, the lake or location where you use it; the size of the motor, how its stored and more. Most policies can cover the boat itself, as well as additional equipment, like the motor, trailers and onboard equipment like GPS systems.
Talk to your insurance broker to ensure your policy fits the needs of your particular boat, be it a Jet-Ski, fishing boat, large cruiser or sailboat.
While boat insurance is not required by law in Canada, it’s a good idea to protect your investment and know you’re covered in case of:
- Liability coverage for injury to passengers aboard, skiers or others being towed
- Damage to boat or theft/loss of attached equipment
- Damage caused by your boat or to other watercraft or someone’s property
READ MORE: Boat Insurance FAQs
The Government of Canada’s Office of Boating Safety provides a comprehensive listing of the equipment that is required on your boat. Its website provide information about tips on choosing the right life jacket, a pre-departure checklist, information on marine weather forecasts and warnings and developing a sail plan.
Discover Boating has a free Safe Boating App for both iOS and Android that can be downloaded to your smartphone. It’s an easy, interactive source of information that covers everything from a pre-trip checklist to emergency resources. Most content in the app is easily accessible regardless of whether or not you have Internet access when out on the water.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of information on how to have a safe and happy boating season. Take advantage of these resources so you and your family can safely enjoy the water!