If you own a boat (or better yet, as the joke goes, you know someone with a boat), you've probably thought about spending some evenings on the water — especially in the summertime.
It's a great thought, of course. But, when you're boating after dark, you need to think about staying safe, even as you enjoy the stillness of the water and the starry sky.
Here are seven things to keep in mind, both before you hit the water and once you're out cruising around:
Have a plan — and tools to help if it goes wrong. Don't go boating at night in an unfamiliar place. You can't see as well, obviously, so stick to where you know the ropes, so to speak. And because things look different in the dark, make sure you have the correct navigational tools in case you get lost.
Share your plan. Always give a friend or family member your "float plan." Include where you're going, your boat's description and registration information, who's with you and when you'll be back.
Check – and dress for – the weather. On top of the other difficulties of boating at night, you don't want to get caught in a storm if you can help it. And you want to be comfortable, so be sure to bring clothing appropriate for the forecast. A sweatshirt, blanket and extra towels may come in handy, even in the summertime.
Do a pre-trip inspection. This is good advice for daytime boating as well, but at night it's crucial that your navigation lights work, for starters. You also need a horn, plenty of fuel, a radio, a flashlight, flares, fire extinguishers and life jackets for all passengers.
Slow down. Speed is a factor in many boating accidents, and the limited visibility at night makes the water even more dangerous. Remember, you aren't going to be the only one on the water at night, so know the right-of-way rules.
Pay attention. Know how to monitor the navigation lights of other vessels to recognize which direction they are going. Be particularly cautious about small vessels, such as canoes and kayaks, as well as anchored or drifting boats. Their lights can be easily confused with lights onshore.
Don't get distracted — or drunk. It's never okay to drink and operate a boat, so be sure you have a designated driver. And, though you're out there to have fun, make sure you can still hear the sounds from approaching vessels. Keep the stereo low and your ears open.
While these tips are important, there's nothing like experience to help ensure a safe voyage. If you're a new boater or just in an unfamiliar vessel, you may want to put in more hours during the day before tackling an area at night. Even then, start with short evening outings and work your way up to a moonlight ride. And don't forget to turn on the lights at the dock before you go!
There are many ways to purchase an insurance policy these days, whether it be online, over the phone, or in person. Ultimately, you will obtain insurance directly from an insurance company or through a licensed insurance agent.
Let's look at the benefits of using an independent agent vs. a captive agent.
In this day and age, it's all about CHOICES and OPTIONS. This is where the value of an independent agent comes to light. Put simply, independent agents have the ability to offer more choices than a captive agent.
Independent agents represent dozens of insurance companies. This means they can look at your personal situation and shop your needs with multiple insurers to make the best recommendation for you.
In contrast, a captive agent by nature only sells insurance for a single (1) company. An example of a captive agent would be State Farm, Farmers, Allstate, etc. They only have one insurer/company to offer, so therefore they only have one quote to offer you as well.
If you are insured with a captive agent, you would be led to believe that your premium is the best rate available, because within their company - it is. They have no other options or choices for you. Now, I have seen a captive agent reduce coverage amounts as a means to lower the premium - making the client think that they had "shopped" their insurance. I am not saying this is a typical practice but just something to potentially be aware of. FYI... You should never reduce your insurance coverage solely as a means to lower your premium unless you are out of other options.
Independent agents also have a "leg up" on the renewal process as well. When a policy renews with an Independent agency, they have the ability to re-shop your rate with any of the insurers they represent and move your policy if necessary. An independent agent can ensure you're getting the best rates available year after year.
On another note, occasionally consumers can be unsure of going with an independent agent simply because they don't recognize some of the insurance companies that the agent represents. Don't let anyone convince you that if you don't go with one of the well-known "brands" of insurance that you're taking a risk... This is simply not true! Every insurer/company is governed by an associated State Department of Insurance to ensure their best business practice. Additionally, you can research the insurer's financial strength (rating) to gain more knowledge and understanding. A multi-million dollar national advertising campaign should not be a guide for your insurance decisions (after all, who do you think is paying for that advertisement... hmmm).
What are you waiting for... Get to know your local independent agent today!
From our offices in Weatherford, Texas, we serve clients anywhere in the State of Texas, though the following areas are geographically closest to us: the counties of Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Wise, Johnson, Parker and Hood and the cities of Arlington, Bedford, Brock, Burleson, Cleburne, Colleyville, Coppell, Dallas, Decatur, Euless, Fort Worth, Frisco, Granbury, Grapevine, Hurst, Keller, Mansfield, Millsap, Mineral Wells, North Richland Hills, Southlake, Watauga, Weatherford, and White Settlement.