Whether you like to fish, waterski, sail or cruise, a day out on the boat can be a fun – and popular – pastime, with nearly 75 million Americans participating in recreational boating, according to the National Ocean Service.

However, an accident on the water can really sink you into a world of trouble. In 2013 alone, recreational boating accidents caused $39 million in property damage, according to the United States Coast Guard, and 80 percent of fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction. So if you’re new to boating or just need a refresher, drop your proverbial anchor and check out what a boating safety course can teach you (and how it can save you money on insurance).

About the courses

Boating safety courses are offered throughout the country, for many types of recreational boaters and for boaters of all ages, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Courses are provided both online and in classroom settings, and some are free while others have an associated cost.

Classes are offered through different organizations, including the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron, and state boating agencies often also provide classes.

What you’ll learn

Boating safety courses will cover all the basics of boating – everything from different types of boats to safety equipment you’ll need onboard to how to properly navigate on the water.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary’s “About Boating Safety” course, for example, covers a wide range of topics, including boating law; problems you may encounter on the water, such as hypothermia and man overboard recovery; safe boating, including alcohol and drug abuse, docking, weather and tides; how to store and trailer your boat; and hunting, fishing, waterskiing and river boating.

Boating safety course accreditation

The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) is responsible for the review and approval of recreational boating safety courses in the U.S., according to the U.S. Coast Guard. And taking a NASBLA-approved course is a smart idea, as only 13 percent of all recreational boating deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction from a NASBLA-approved course provider.

You can view a list of all NASBLA-approved boating courses here.

Saving on insurance

According to bankrate.com, taking one boating safety course can save you five percent or more on your insurance policy each year. So even if your state doesn’t require you to take a safety course before hitting the water, it’s still a smart idea – for both your well-being and your wallet.

Get free NY and Pennsylvania boat insurance quotes. Contact an InsuraMatch boat insurance specialist at 855-244-7671 to see how much we can help you save.