Reporting a boating accident
Understand your responsibility if you are involved in an accident.
Proper boat safety starts with you, the boat owner. You might consider taking a boating safety course so you know what to do in an emergency. Knowing how to trailer your boat is also a must as you need to change the way you drive with a boat behind you. And of course, check that you have the right insurance coverage for your boat. You don't want any surprises if you're involved in an accident.
Accidents on the water can happen to even cautious, well-trained boaters. If you're involved in a boating accident, it's important to know the requirements for reporting it to the proper authorities.
What type of report must be filed if there is an accident while boating?
After an accident, U.S. federal regulations (33 CFR 173.55) require the operator of any vessel that is numbered or used for recreational purposes to submit a boating accident report. Individual states may have their own requirements for reporting accidents, but, in general, you must report it when:
- A death is involved.
- Someone is injured that requires more than first aid treatment.
- Anyone onboard the boat disappears.
- Damage to the boat and other property totals more than $2,000.
- Any of the boats involved in the accident are a total loss.
Who should report boating accidents?
The boat operator must submit the report to authorities in the state or U.S. territory where the accident happened. If the operator is unable to, then the boat owner must submit the report.
When should accidents be reported?
Reports should be made within 48 hours of the accident if a person is killed, injured or missing. If only the boat or property was damaged, you have up to 10 days to report the accident.
If you are looking for additional information related to boating in your state, including specific accident requirements and forms, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) has a state directory with helpful information.
After reporting the boating accident to the authorities, contact your State Farm® agent. You can also start, then track, an existing claim online. And check out more boating safety, insurance and maintenance articles.