We all know that as much as we love it, the sea can be treacherous, and the weather can be unpredictable. And accidents do happen not only to inexperienced sailors but to all. It doesn’t matter how many nautical miles they have under their sails.
A boat crash caused by any reason can vary from a slight impact with minimum damage to the vessel to a devastating event leading to a stranded vessel and its passengers. Ultimately – to the wreckage of your yacht. The crash’s impact can cause severe damage to the boat, making it unable to move or even float. The situation can also leave passengers stranded and in dire need of a rescue.
When a boat crash occurs or a vessel is left stranded, it can cause significant damage to the vessel’s hull, engine, and other components. The force of the impact can also cause injuries to passengers on board. In some cases, the boat may even sink, leaving passengers in the water. Now, we can number all kinds of situations that can make something like this happen. Still, we will focus mainly on the events directly connected to the boat crash and the steps to be taken.
If a boat crash occurs – the essentials
The most important thing to be done in the event of a boat crash of any kind is to remain calm and assess the situation carefully.
It’s good to know that in the event of an emergency at sea, for any accident or collision, you should contact the National Maritime Rescue Coordination Center Rijeka (MRCC Rijeka).
The number is 195; it is free of charge and available around the clock. The European emergency number is 112, and you can also request assistance via VHF marine channel 16.
If the accident happens, the first reaction is crucial – ensure that all passengers are safe and accounted for. If anyone is injured, provide medical attention immediately. If first aid is beyond your capabilities or knowledge, call for help as soon as possible.
The procedure when a vessel becomes stranded or in a case of a wreck
If a boat or a yacht becomes stranded or wrecked after a boat crash or similar, there are several steps that you or any person operating it should take. They are essential to ensure the safety of the passengers and the vessel itself. This is the general procedure that should be followed in the event of wreckage:
1. Assess the situation: The first step is to assess the situation and determine the extent of the damage. Check for injuries to passengers and the crew, and make sure everyone is safe.
2. Contact relevant authorities: If the situation is complex and requires assistance, contact the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center, i.e. the Croatian Coast Guard, 112 or other appropriate sources for help. They will provide guidance on what to do next and will send a rescue team if needed. Once everyone is safe and sound, it’s time to assess the damage to the boat.
3. Take measures to prevent further damage: If the vessel is stranded, you must take steps to prevent further damage. This may include deploying an anchor or using pumps to remove water from the boat.
4. Prevent potential pollution: Shut off the engine and close any valves to prevent further leaks. Yachts usually carry fuel, oil, or other hazardous materials. In that case, your primary role is to stop the source of pollution as quickly as you can.
5. Document the damage: Take photographs and videos of the damage to the vessel and any injuries sustained by passengers or the crew. This documentation will be helpful when making an insurance claim.
After calling for help, accessing and preventing further damage, and documenting the whole situation, this is the moment where the assistance of your maritime insurance comes “to the rescue”.
Role of a maritime insurance broker
When you made sure everyone is safe and sound while waiting for assistance, this is what you should do:
1. Notify your insurance broker: The role of a maritime insurance broker in case a vessel is stranded or wrecked is to provide guidance and support.
As the vessel’s owner or operator, you should notify your maritime insurance broker, who will provide instructions on proceeding with the claim and may even send an appraiser to assess the damage, if necessary. The best is to contact your insurance broker and seek advice on what to do next.
2. Obtain repair estimates: Obtain repair estimates from reputable repair facilities or boatyards. Again, your insurance broker will probably be able to recommend suitable repair facilities or even have someone trustworthy with whom they are closely cooperating.
3. Make an insurance claim: Once you obtain the repair estimates and the damage has been adequately documented, you should make an insurance claim with your broker. The broker will guide you through the claims process and provide professional assistance on what to do and how to make a proper claim.
It’s usually advised not to make any claims or estimates on your own but to ensure your maritime insurance broker shares all their knowledge on the situation with you, as they are more experienced.
Ultimately, the broker is there to help you navigate the complexities of marine insurance and provide comfort for you and your passengers in case of a boat crash, stranding or wreckage.
What is a wreck?
In maritime insurance, the term “wreck” describes a vessel that has been involved in a maritime accident and has either sunk or become stranded.
A wreck can occur due to various reasons, including collisions with other vessels, running aground, or adverse weather conditions. In maritime insurance, there are few instances when a vessel or its parts are considered a wreck after a boat crash:
The sunken or stranded vessel – means when a boat or a yacht sinks, and it has been completely submerged in the water and can no longer be seen. On the other hand, when it becomes stranded, it has run aground and is stuck on rocks or a sandbank, for example. In either case, the vessel is considered a wreck and can pose a danger to navigation and the environment.
Any part of a sunken or stranded vessel – a wreck can also be referred to as any part of a sunken or stranded vessel. This can include debris, equipment, and cargo lost overboard or washed ashore. These items can also pose a hazard to navigation and the environment and may need to be removed or recovered.
Any item lost at sea – in addition to vessels and their parts, a wreck can also refer to any item lost at sea from a stranded or sunken vessel or from the one that has drifted into the sea. This can include items such as personal belongings or equipment that have been lost or carried off overboard.
A vessel which may be expected to sink or be stranded – a vessel may be considered a wreck if it’s in danger of sinking or becoming stranded. Also, if there is no attempt to protect or save it or any part of its property, maritime authorities may take action to prevent the vessel from causing further harm to the environment and other crafts.
Maritime insurance role in a boat crash
As we mentioned before, maritime insurance can play a significant role in the event of a boat crash. You can get various insurance coverage to protect yourself from financial losses.
If you have hull insurance coverage for your vessel, you will typically be covered for the costs of repairing or replacing the damaged vessel. This can include the cost of repairing or replacing the boat’s hull, engine, and other vital components.
Personal accident insurance can also cover the costs of injuries sustained by passengers aboard the vessel. This can include medical fees and other expenses, such as possible rescue expenses.
Maritime insurance can provide valuable protection for boat and yacht owners in the event of a crash. Being covered not only can help minimize financial losses but can also provide peace of mind. Insurance coverage can help mitigate the effects of a potentially catastrophic event.