Protect Your Boat This Winter

Protect Your Boat This Winter

As the weather cools down in Knoxville and the surrounding areas, the opportunities to take your boat out on the water will be few and far between if at all. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to make sure that you prepare it for the winter season the right way so that it will still be in excellent shape next year. 

There are two ways to ensure that your boat is well protected. Winterize your boat and check on the type of insurance you have. We at Bob Johnson Insurance are here to help you get the coverage you need so that your craft is always ready for anything. 

What Kind of Insurance Do You Need?

Typically speaking, small boats that don’t have a lot of power can be covered by your current homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. However, larger and faster crafts must have their own plan, so be sure to check with us to ensure that you have the right coverage. 

During the winter months, you may think that insurance won’t be necessary. After all, the boat’s out of the water, so what’s the worst that could happen? Well, that depends. The fact is that your ship can still get damaged, vandalized, or stolen when it’s not in the water. Therefore, having watercraft insurance all year long is always a good idea. 

Also, considering that Knoxville, TN doesn’t have the harshest of winters, you may be able to enjoy some decent time on the water during the offseason, which is where full coverage will come in handy. 

Optional Boat Insurance Options

Although protecting your craft itself is crucial, you have to take a more comprehensive approach when drafting the right insurance policy. These options are good to consider regardless of the season.

  • If your boat is getting old, you may be better off with a cash-value policy instead of an agreed value one. 
  • Consider any equipment that you may have on the boat. Do you keep fishing gear stored on there during the off-season? What about any electronics, like fish finders?
  • Not everyone who has a boat is insured, so it’s usually a good idea to get uninsured boater coverage and possibly umbrella protection, which helps reduce your liability if you’re ever involved in a collision or accident on the water. 

When talking with your insurance agent, keep in mind that there may be ways to get discounts on your policy. For example, taking a boating safety course can help reduce your premiums, so ask what options are available. In addition, your agent can advise you of other insurance options that you might want to know about

Winterizing Your Boat

While getting the right insurance coverage is essential, it’s not the only thing you should be doing to get your boat ready for the season. Winterizing your craft is also crucial so that it can survive the colder weather without any problems. Here are some tips to get started. 

Flush the Engine – Since the motor won’t be used during the winter, you want to clean it out and drain fuel from the carburetor. Doing this will help prevent buildup and ensure that everything stays pristine. Also, be sure to lubricate systems like your pistons and cylinders. 

Stern Drive – Keeping your boat clean and free of any plant life or barnacles will help keep the stern in good condition over the winter. Also, drain the gear case and clean it thoroughly. 

Fuel – Keeping your fuel tanks full for the season will avoid condensation. Be sure to add fuel stabilizers though to ensure that it stays fresh until Spring. 

Fresh Water System – As the temperature drops, the water in your boat can freeze and cause damage. To prevent this, flush the system and fill it with non-toxic antifreeze. 

Interior – Storing some items on your craft during winter can be convenient, but don’t store anything too valuable, especially if you don’t check the inside very often. 

Boat Cover – Using a cover to protect your boat from harmful UV rays and other winter weather will ensure that it’s ready to go next season. 

Keeping your boat in excellent condition this winter is much easier than it looks. By being prepared ahead of time, you can make this process much more comfortable, thus guaranteeing you won’t experience any problems when you back into the water. 

If you have any questions about boater’s insurance, be sure to give Bob Johnson Insurance a call at 800-624-3339 or click here to contact us.

Prepping for Spring: Getting ATV’s and Offroad Vehicles Ready For Adventure

Tips to Ensure Your ATV is Properly Insured

Taking the time to get your offroad toys ready for summer can help them last longer, and be safer while you’re out playing.

Inspect the Fuel Lines

Anything with an engine that has been stored over the winter should always have the fuel system fully inspected before use. Along with checking the lines for damage and wear, the fuel itself likely needs to be replaced. Make sure fuel line fittings are tight, check for hose cracks or brittleness and make sure any fuel filters are replaced and ready to go. If the gasoline was left sitting all winter without treatment, then it’s best to empty and clean out the tank thoroughly before refueling.

Check the Fluids

Make sure fluid levels are all topped off and ready to go. This includes radiator fluid, oil and brake fluids. If anything is surprisingly low, check for leaks and other issues that may have led to the drop. It might also be a good time to change the oil and oil filter if you can’t remember how much time has been spent operating on the oil from last year.

Check the Battery

Be sure the battery is charged up and ready to go. Being out in the field or on the track with a low battery can mean that you won’t be starting up your ride while you’re out there. Batteries typically lose about 10 percent of their charge per month while in storage.

Examine the Tires

Remember to check on the tires and make sure the air pressure is where it should be for the season. Having too little air pressure after winterizing a bike or atv is a common issue, but it only takes a moment to handle it.

One Last Thing

One last thing to note is that many insurance companies offer atv, motorcycle, utv and other offroad vehicle coverage. These vehicles aren’t cheap, and if anything happens to them it can be frustrating and even more expensive to fix. Give Bob Johnson Insurance a call (865-922-3111 or Toll Free 865-624-3339) or click here to learn what we offer in protection before hitting the trails.

Prepping for Spring SeriesPrepping for Spring Series

Keeping Boat Insurance Afloat in the Off Season

expensive pleasure boat safely stored under canopy on a hyrdolic lift in a dock

Summer is over, and you’ve taken your boat out of the water. To save a few dollars, you cancel your boat insurance. After all, what could possibly happen to your baby while it’s hibernating? A lot, according to Progressive.

“You’d be shocked at the number of claims filed in colder months,” says Dominic Mediate of Progressive. “Nearly two out of every 10 Progressive boat claims filed in northern states happen between Labor Day and Memorial Day.”

Don’t take a gamble on nothing bad happening.

Common off-season claims:

Fire, theft, vandalism and flooding

Most claims are filed for one of these reasons, which can occur anytime of year. Without coverage, boats damaged by fire, theft, vandalism or flooding aren’t protected.

Injuries that occur on or around your boat

Some boaters don’t realize they could be responsible for injuries that occur on or around their boat — even if the injured person was there illegally. Without liability coverage, you could be responsible for the damages or the injured person’s medical bills.

Keeping your policy all year round might also save you a few bucks.

Progressive’s disappearing deductibles reduce your Comprehensive and Collision deductible 25 percent for every claim-free policy period. Four policy periods in a row without a claim equals a $0 deductible. Canceling your policy could mean paying more or the entire deductible, generally $500 or $1,000.

Check your policy and consult Bob Johnson Insurance, Inc. Click here to contact BJI or call 865-922-3111.

Tips for Staying Safe in the Water

Tips for Staying Safe in the Water

Swimming and spending time in or on the water is something most of us look forward to in the summer.  It helps us stay cool, gives us a reason to get a tan and is lots of fun!  There are a few things to consider while swimming in order to keep the merriment going.

Do not Swim Alone

It is important to have someone or a lifeguard nearby.  Do not assume one is there. If you are not sure ask, because your life could depend on it.

Stay in Communication

Have a phone nearby.  If something happens that requires professional help (such as medical attention), you will be able to call for help at a time when speed is of utmost importance.

Pay Attention at the Pool

Although toys are fun, they are not always safe at the pool.  They can get in the way and may cause an accident.  Keep electrical appliances away from the pool to avoid shock and/or electrocution.  It’s also best to walk, not run, to avoid slipping and falling on the pool’s wet surfaces.

Know CPR

With swimming comes the chance of someone drowning.  Knowing CPR could save the person’s life.  When CPR is needed, the sooner it is started, the better the chances.

Be Prepared

If a person is an unsure or weak swimmer, wear a life jacket. Take swimming lessons and learn the basic and advanced skills.  Not only will you be able to swim, but you may also develop the ability to help someone who cannot.

Heading Out on the Water? Here is your Pre-Departure Boat Check

Make sure you and your boat are prepared before you leave the dock.

Last month, we provided some safety information for when you go boating.  One safety tip was a pre-launch boat check.  Here are items that you should have on board.

Items to Check

  • Your fuel tank should be full. If that is not possible, you should have enough fuel to return safely and still have some left over.
  • Check the engine oil and coolant levels.
  • Make sure your navigational lights work.
  • Make sure your instrument panel lights work.
  • Check ventilation in any powered vessel, auxiliary-powered sailboats or boats using cooking fuel such as LPG (propane).
  • Check that enclosed areas have a properly-installed and working carbon monoxide detector.
  • Check that bilges are dry and pumps not running excessively. (Spilled oil or waste in bilges should be cleaned up.)
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Check your dock lines for chafe or wear.
  • Leave a “float plan” with at least one person on land so they know where you can be found.

Items that Should be On Board

Here is the “short list.”  Explanations are further down.

  • Basic toolbox with tools appropriate for your boat.
  • Spare parts including fuel filter, light bulbs, head parts, through-hull plugs, etc.
  • Standard first-aid kit
  • Life jackets
  • Horn or other sound producing device
  • All lights (including flashlight and spare batteries) and needed day-shapes
  • Distress Signals
  • Have all required fire extinguishers on board and that they are mounted properly.
  • Have a radio on board to receive weather updates.
  • All needed battery types (and check that they are working)
  • At least one anchor set up and bent-on to your anchor line.
  • 2-3 extra dock lines in case of unusual conditions.
  • At least two fenders on-board for docking or towing if required.
  • Ship’s papers, radio license, fishing permit, etc. on board.
  • Chart(s) for the area(s) you will be in regardless of the level of your local knowledge.
  • Both an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) for your boat and a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) for you. Both beacons should be registered (EPIRB to your boat and PLB to you) at

More Information About Items Above

Life Jackets

  • 1 life jacket per passenger (minimum 2 at all times). Life jackets should be Coast Guard approved.
  • If your vessel is over 16 feet long, you should have a throwable device.
  • Tell all passengers and crew new to the vessel the location of the life jackets and how to use them.

Sound Producing Devices

  • The horn you have on board should be able to sound a four-second blast that can be heard for at least a ½ mile.
  • Make sure to have a spare can of air (or alternate device) if you use a portable air horn.
  • Each life jacket should have a whistle attached.


“Day shapes are mast head signals visually indicating the status of a vessel to other vessels on navigable waters during daylight hours whether making-way, anchored, or aground.” (Wikipedia) If you plan to engage in recreational boating activity that requires a day-shape, make sure that you have it.

Distress Signals

Your flares, day signals and other items used for signaling should be stored in a dry location that is easily accessible.  Be sure the crew and passengers know where they are and how to use them properly.

Fire Extinguishers

  • Coast Guard rules set the number of fire extinguishers you should have on board. Make sure you have the number required and that they are accessible.
  • Check to be sure mounts are secure and functional before departure.
  • Inform passengers and crew of the fire extinguisher(s) location.


  • All interior spaces should be checked. They should be well-ventilated before departure.
  • If you smell fuel, run the blowers for several minutes and check again.
  • If you still smell the odor, turn off the engine and check for the source of the leak.
  • Each enclosed or semi-enclosed area should have a properly-installed carbon monoxide detector.


  • For dual charging systems, make sure the selector switch in the proper position.
  • Make sure the entire vessel has power.
  • Have spares for all your devices on board (handheld radio, flashlight, portable navigational aid, etc.)
  • Make sure rechargeable batteries are charged.

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How to Stay Safe While Fishing

Stay safe when fishing

Ahhh… those relaxing times on the boat — early morning, sitting back in the chair at the bow with your fishing line in the water.  Boating brings great enjoyment and relaxation.  Here is some general advice to help you stay safe while you are out on the water.

Boat Check

Before you actually launch your boat, do a “boat check.”  Make sure you have your onboard safety equipment, enough fuel and life vests. The U.S. Coast Guard provides free vessel safety checks if you would like to take advantage of the service.  (Check back in a couple weeks.  We will post a boating checklist that gives more detailed information.)

Take a Friend

It’s time to go fishing, and you really should take a friend with you. After all, the one thing better than telling your other buddies about “the one that got away” is to have a witness!  Your friend will also make good company in case you fall overboard, are suddenly sick, are incapacitated or in the emergency situations. In short, never fish alone.

Have Two Very Important Devices

Be sure to have a charged and working radio or other communication device in case someone gets hurt or you run out of fuel and get stuck in the middle of the lake.  You should also have a first aid kit with you.  Hooks are sharp, and it is easy to stab yourself and also possible to snag your friend if you don’t pay attention when casting.  (In a couple weeks, we will post a boating checklist that will include items that you should have on your boat.)

Other Items to Bring

There are a few other items that are helpful when fishing.

  • Cold drinks
  • Insect repellent
  • Appropriate Clothing
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Athletic shoes

Regarding clothing, be sure to check our article “Sun Protection and Sunburns.” It has a whole section about how to protect yourself from getting sunburned.

Our hope is that these tips will help you have a fun time on the water and in the sun.  Enjoy your fishing!  Be safe.

Watercraft Insurance

Did you know?

As an independent agency, Bob Johnson Insurance can help you find the right coverage from the right company for your boat or other watercraft.

Insuring a boat is different than insuring a car or home. Boats require specialized coverages. To avoid a sinking feeling about your boat insurance, consider these tips from the experts at The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies:

Better Boating
Tips For Smooth Sailing This Season

Before you take that first pleasure cruise or fishing trip of the season, make sure your boat insurance is shipshape.

Insuring a boat is different than insuring a car or home. Boats require specialized coverages. To avoid a sinking feeling about your boat insurance, consider these tips from the experts at The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies:

Evaluate your specific needs. 
Some insurance companies provide no-frills boat coverage that is simply added to an existing auto or homeowners policy. While this sounds good in theory, the reality is that your boat may be best covered if you seek out a specialized policy just for boats, not an add-on to your car or house policy. A knowledgeable, independent insurance agent will review all options with you. A specialized boat policy can cover things not likely covered by a homeowners policy, like the cost to replace lost or damaged fishing gear and costly services, such as emergency on-water towing and fuel-spill cleanup. 

Consult an agent or broker who provides the most options. 
Unlike “captive” agents who represent only one company, independent agents and brokers represent several. They can offer a variety of coverages, review and evaluate your policies, answer your questions and suggest new coverage options that meet your changing needs. They guide you to the policy that provides you with the best combination of specialized coverage, service and price.

Look for a company that offers specialized boat policies. 
When there’s a claim, you will appreciate a company that provides specialized coverage and specialized claims handling. Ask other boaters what company they recommend or find an independent insurance agent who under-stands boat policies.

Once you choose a policy, make sure you understand what you’re buying. 
Your agent should be able to explain, in layman’s terms, what the different options mean. If you are unclear about something, be sure to ask for an explanation.

For more information about boat insurance coverages, talk to an independent insurance agent, who can provide you with the combination of price, coverage and service that’s right for you.

Would you like to know more?

If you have other questions, we are glad to answer them. Click here to use our contact form.  If you would like a boat insurance quote, please click here.