As the weather warms, Ontarians prepare to enjoy everything summer has to offer: swimming, kayaking, cottaging and the ever-popular boating. However, before taking your family members out for a cruise on the Ottawa River or one of our province's many lakes, ensure that you have adequate insurance coverage which will protect you from liability in case of an accident.
Even the most responsible boat owner can't guarantee that a mistake won't be made, and unfortunately, every year people are injured in Ontario in boat collisions. Many boat owners don't realise that insurance policies for boat operators often contain exclusions clauses affecting close family members of the owner living under the same roof.
This usually applies to any underage children living with their parents - the very people you most want to protect. In case of an accident, any unrelated persons will usually be covered, but your own family members won't be.
As if this weren't enough to be concerned about, most insurance contracts also give the insurer the right of subrogation, meaning that an insurance company has the right to sue a person responsible for an accident to recover some of the money it is required to pay to an accident victim.
Essentially, the insurance company can sue the responsible party as if it were the accident victim. If you inadvertently injure your child, an insurance company will not hesitate to sue you if it can show that you were negligent in some way. You may be covered under a homeowner's insurance policy, but these commonly contain the same type of exclusion clause often found in boating insurance. Don't wait until it is too late to find out.
Therefore, it's vitally important that you ensure they have adequate coverage to protect your loved ones in the event of a mishap - too many parents have found out after their child is injured on the family boat that an exclusion clause applies. This may leave the family paying out of pocket for needed medical care and parents taking unpaid time off work to care for their children.
Also, if the child is unfortunate enough to have a long-term disability, he or she may not be able to recover damages for lost income in the form of future earnings. This can have an enormous impact of the future of the entire family.
So, be sure to thoroughly read any insurance contract before signing it and question your broker about any exclusion clauses. Ensure your expectations are absolutely clear and purchase additional coverage if necessary - you will thank yourself later on.