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How to Winterize Your Boat to Prevent Insurance Claims

Posted Oct 11th, 2023 in Boat Insurance, Did You Know?, General, In the News, Insurance Tips, Media

Answers to Common Boating FAQs

Preparing your boat for the winter months and storage is essential to ensure it remains in good condition and is ready for use when the weather gets warmer. Properly winterizing your boat is also a crucial step in preventing insurance claims during the off-season. By carefully following the winterization procedures, you mitigate several common risks that could lead to damage or loss, ultimately reducing the likelihood of filing a boat insurance claim.

Storing your boat securely, maintaining its engine and systems, and protecting it from the harsh winter elements not only safeguard the vessel itself but also the expensive equipment and electronics on board. Ensuring that your boat is free from any water systems and is well-ventilated can prevent water damage, mould, and mildew while disconnecting and storing batteries away from extremely cold temperatures helps avoid electrical issues. These preventive measures demonstrate responsible boat ownership and reduce the potential for costly repairs and replacements, which, in turn, can help maintain a favourable insurance record and keep premiums manageable.

If your owner's manual provides guidance on winterization, it is advisable to follow those specified procedures. In cases where the manufacturer's instructions are unavailable, below is a general checklist for preparing your boat for the winter season.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to winterize and store your boat properly

1. Clean the Boat
  • Start by giving your boat a thorough cleaning. Remove dirt, grime, and any saltwater residue from the exterior and interior.
  • Clean and disinfect the galley, head, and any other living spaces.
  • Clean and disinfect the galley, head, and any other living spaces.
  • Apply wax to the hull

2: Engine and Fuel System: Change the engine oil and oil filter

  • Stabilize the fuel system by adding a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank.
  • Run the engine to ensure that the stabilized fuel circulates through the system.
  • Drain the engine cooling system and replace it with antifreeze if necessary.
  • Fog the engine with a fogging oil to protect internal components from rust and corrosion. This applies to gasoline engines only.

3: Drain Water Systems:

  • Drain all water systems, including freshwater tanks, plumbing, and the bilge.
  • Use non-toxic antifreeze specifically designed for boats in the plumbing system to prevent freezing.

4: Electrical Systems

  • Disconnect the battery and store it in a cool, dry place. Consider using a battery maintainer to keep it charged during the winter. Clean the battery terminals and apply a corrosion inhibitor to safeguard against damage.
  • Turn off and disconnect all electronic devices and store them indoors.

5. Check and Lubricate:

  •  Inspect and lubricate all moving parts, including steering systems, throttle and shift cables, and propeller shafts.
  • Check the trailer's wheel bearings and tires. Inflate the tires to the recommended pressure and consider placing the trailer on jack stands to prevent flat spots on the tires.

6: Cover and Protect:

  • Invest in a quality boat cover that fits your boat well. This will protect it from snow, rain, and UV damage.
  • If storing your boat outdoors, consider shrink-wrapping it for added protection
  • When opting for land storage for your boat, ensure it's positioned on blocks or a boat trailer to safeguard the hull. If you plan to store it in the water, contemplate using a de-icer to prevent ice formation around the boat, as it can potentially cause damage.

7: Secure and Ventilate:

  • Ensure that the boat is securely tied down and well-supported on its trailer or cradle.
  • Install a ventilation system to prevent condensation and mould growth. Ventilation can also help maintain a consistent temperature inside the boat.

8: Pest Control:

Remove all food items and clean the galley thoroughly to prevent pest infestations.
Place pest control devices, such as traps and repellents, inside the boat to deter rodents.

9: Documentation:

  • Take pictures and notes of the boat's condition before storage to have a record in case of any issues or damage during storage.

10: Schedule Regular Checkups:

  • Periodically visit your boat during the winter to check for any issues or damage and to ensure that it's properly secured.

11: Review Yor Boat Insurance Policy

Having boat insurance during the winter is important for several reasons:

Theft and Vandalism: Even when your boat is stored for the winter, it's not immune to theft or vandalism. Boat insurance can provide coverage if your boat is stolen or damaged by vandals.

Fire and Weather-Related Damage: Fires and severe weather events can still occur during the winter, potentially causing damage to your boat. Boat insurance can help cover the costs of repairs or replacement in such situations.

Damage During Storage or Transport: Accidents can happen when your boat is being stored or transported to and from its winter storage location. Insurance can protect your investment from these risks.

Liability Protection: If someone is injured on or near your boat during the winter, you could be held liable. Boat insurance typically includes liability coverage to protect you in such situations.

Collisions: While your boat may not be in active use during the winter, accidents can still happen while it's stored. For example, another vehicle or object may collide with your boat. Insurance can cover the cost of repairs.

Peace of Mind: Boat insurance provides peace of mind year-round. Knowing that your boat is protected, even during the off-season, can alleviate worries about potential risks and damage.

It's important to review your boat insurance policy with your insurance broker to understand the extent of coverage it provides during the winter months. Some policies may have limitations or require specific winterization procedures to be followed. Maintaining boat insurance throughout the year is a responsible way to protect your investment and ensure you're financially prepared for unexpected events, regardless of the season.

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as professional insurance advice. The coverage, terms, and conditions of each insurance policy are unique and subject to individual circumstances. The information provided does not guarantee the availability or suitability of any insurance policy for your specific needs. You should not rely on the information in the blog as an alternative to professional advice from your insurance broker or insurance company. If you have any specific questions about any insurance matter, please consult a licensed insurance broker for personalized advice and guidance.

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