How to Protect Your Boat from the Most Common Insurance Claim

Navigating the waters in your boat offers an exhilarating blend of freedom and adventure, but it also comes with inherent risks. Submerged object strikes are the most common boating accident type and the most common claim filed under boat insurance

Understanding how these incidents occur and how to protect your boat is crucial for every boat owner.

Common Boat Damage: Submerged Object Strikes

There are hidden dangers lurking beneath the water's surface. Logs, rocks, debris, and more pose significant risks to boaters. Collisions with these submerged objects can severely damage your boat's propulsion system, often resulting in expensive repairs. Here are a few illustrative examples:

Lake Michigan Misfortune

A family enjoying a weekend on Lake Michigan experienced a sudden jolt when their boat struck a submerged metal object, likely debris from a shipwreck. 

The impact bent the propeller shaft and severely damaged the engine's cooling system, causing a mechanical breakdown that led to engine overheating and failure. The incident not only cut the trip short but also led to extensive and expensive repairs.

Hidden Hazard in the Hudson

A speedboat cruising near the Hudson River's shore collided with a submerged log. The violent impact cracked the hull and dislodged the motor mount. 

This misalignment compromised the boat's handling and triggered excessive vibration, further damaging the motor bearings and transmission. This cascade of mechanical failures showcases the severe consequences of submerged object strikes.

Types of Submerged Objects

Submerged objects pose significant risks to boaters and can be broadly categorized as natural or manufactured. Here is a detailed look at each:

Natural Objects: 

These include logs, tree branches, rocks, and even parts of riverbanks that have collapsed into the water. In regions with heavy vegetation or where rivers carry significant runoff from upstream, natural debris is commonly found.

Man-Made Objects: 

Boaters often overlook the possibility of encountering discarded man-made items. These can include:

  • Construction Materials: Items like cinder blocks, rebar, and wooden planks from nearby construction sites can end up in waterways, especially those near urban areas.
  • Household Appliances: Washers, dryers, and refrigerators can be found submerged, particularly in areas where illegal dumping is prevalent.
  • Marine Equipment: Old fishing nets, ropes, anchors, and parts of docks or moorings can break free and become submerged hazards that are particularly dangerous for propellers and motors.

Avoiding Submerged Object Strikes

While having coverage is crucial, the best strategy is prevention. Here are practical tips to help you navigate safely and avoid submerged object strikes:

  • Stay in Marked Channels: These paths are regularly surveyed and cleared of hazards, providing a safe route.
  • Navigate in Familiar Waters: Knowledge of your boating area can be your best defense against unexpected, submerged objects.
  • Be Extra Vigilant After Heavy Rains: Storms can displace objects into waterways. Extra caution during such times can prevent accidents.
  • Use a Depth Finder: This tool is essential for detecting potential underwater hazards before they become a problem.
  • Maintain a Safe Speed: In unfamiliar or shallow waters, reducing speed can give you more time to react to sudden obstacles.
  • Consult Nautical Charts: These charts offer invaluable information about potential hazards and water depths.
  • Have a Lookout: An extra set of eyes can help spot dangers that might otherwise go unnoticed, especially in challenging conditions.
  • Boating Safety Courses: Consider taking boating safety courses focusing on navigation and hazard avoidance.
  • Engage with Local Boating Communities: Local boaters often have the most up-to-date information about water conditions and potential hazards. Participating in local boating forums and communities can provide critical insights for safe navigation.

Read Next: 8 Reasons Why Boat Insurance is Important

Benefits Offered by Progressive

America’s number 1 boat insurer, Progressive created a specialized coverage after finding that many customers mistake a loss of power caused by a mechanical breakdown for a submerged object strike. 


Propulsion Plus coverage offers a comprehensive safety net that includes mechanical breakdowns to the lower unit of an outboard motor, or upper and lower units of an inboard/outboard motor, even if the breakdown is caused by wear and tear.

Economic Sense: Given that repair costs can quickly escalate into the thousands, investing in Propulsion Plus provides both peace of mind and financial prudence. It means that unexpected breakdowns do not turn into financial disasters.

Read Next: How Much Does Boat Insurance Cost?


Protecting your boat from submerged object strikes is not just about safeguarding your investment - it's about prioritizing your safety on the water. Propulsion Plus coverage provides additional peace of mind by covering mechanical breakdowns starting at just $38/year. 
Enhance your boat insurance today and confidently set sail into a worry-free boating season.

This article is sponsored by Progressive Insurance®


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