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Common Boat Insurance Exclusions

Fri Jan 29th, 2021 on     Insurance Claims,    

Boat insurance coverage may seem comprehensive at first glance, but many policyholders find that despite the expense of their policy, the insurer denies their claims on the basis of an exclusion that may not have been obvious at the time of signing.

For this reason, it’s critical that policyholders fully evaluate their insurance policy before moving forward.  By understanding your coverage in detail, you’ll be equipped to counter the insurer’s assertions about coverage exclusions, and potentially secure the compensation you’re looking for.

If you’ve sustained damages to your boat and would like to submit a claim to your insurer, or have already submitted a claim and have had that claim denied, undervalued, or otherwise adversely affected, then we encourage you to contact a Miami insurance claim lawyer at Ver Ploeg & Marino, P.A. for legal assistance.

Our team has decades of experience working with insurance policyholders, including those that are struggling to secure compensation on the basis of their boat insurance policy.  It is our belief that effective advocacy requires client-centered, thorough representation.  If you’d like to speak to a qualified Miami insurance claim lawyer about your case, contact our team directly to schedule a consultation.

As a policyholder, it’s important to understand the basic issues that you are likely to encounter as you navigate the claim dispute.  Though every boat insurance policy will be somewhat different, there are certain commonalities that tend to crop-up — such as common exclusions that could impact your ability to secure compensation.

Consider the following.

Normal Deterioration

Wear and tear — and the maintenance/repair costs associated with that boat deterioration over time — is not generally covered by boat insurance.  For example, if you have to pay to refinish your boat hull (to operate more efficiently) due to corrosion and other particulate deterioration on the hull, then your insurance policy is unlikely to pay for that maintenance.  Any claim associated with that loss will likely be denied on the basis that it is not linked to a “covered peril.”

To overcome this exclusion, you’ll want to evaluate whether the maintenance/repair is linked to a particular event.  If you can show that refinishing the hull is necessary due to a collision accident, for example, then the insurer may be required to cover the costs (as it is tied to an underlying “covered peril”).

Animal-Related Damages

Worth noting: animal-related damages are not necessarily covered by most standard boat insurance policies.

For example, if your boat is rammed by dolphins, causing it to sustain damage, those losses would not be covered by most boat insurance policies — you’d have to purchase some form of supplemental coverage.  This can be a problem for policyholders who regularly boat in Key West and other areas of the Florida coast where marine animals routinely cause damage to boats.

Defective Parts

Boats are complicated pieces of machinery, and just like cars and trucks, may be fitted with defective parts — whether the part at-issue is faulty due to a manufacturing defect or a design defect.

For example, you may have a defective collision detection system, which has a delayed response time — due to the defect, you are not able to identify an incoming hazard, and your boat crashes, sustaining significant damage.  Now, this is where things get interesting: your boat insurance policy may not cover replacement of the defective part (i.e., the defective collision detection system), but it will cover losses linked to that defective part.

Under these circumstances, it’s clear that the defective equipment caused you to suffer losses.  As such, your insurance policy will likely cover the damages caused to the boat by the collision.  On the other hand, it will not necessarily cover the repair/replacement of the defective system itself.

You’ll have to examine your policy carefully to determine whether replacement of the defective part is covered. Our Miami insurance claim lawyer can help you in this regard — reach out to us today.

Damages Outside Geographical Area

Many boat insurance policies contain provisions limiting its application to a specified geographical area — the insurer does not want you navigating waters beyond what they have assessed as a reasonable risk (given the cost/coverage of the plan).

For example, your insurance policy might only cover you for incidents that occur while operating your boat in Florida’s coastal waters.  If you take your boat onto inland waterways, however, the insurance policy may not cover damages sustained as a result.  This concept is (to some degree) sensible, as the insurer may consider the risks of loss in particular areas higher.

The key issue with geographical limitations in boat insurance policies is that they are often written rather vaguely.  If the language of the limitation is not clear, then as a policyholder, you are likely to have your interpretation favored before a court of law — in Florida, ambiguous insurance provisions are interpreted in a manner favorable to the policyholder.  As such, unless the language of the limitation is highly specific, you may be able to secure compensation despite operating beyond the limits of where the insurer “wanted” you to go.

Mold and Other Infestations

Mold is a serious problem with boats — but unfortunately, most standard boat insurance policies do not cover mold-related loss (perhaps because mold can be prevented through proper maintenance and care).  Cleaning and drying boating equipment is key to minimizing the risk of damaging mold.

If you believe that the mold was caused by an incident that was unrelated to normal maintenance and care of the boat, then it’s possible that it will be covered by the insurance policy.  You’ll want to read carefully into the exclusion to determine the extent of the coverage.

For example, a collision could have led to a pocket of water being formed (that later developed into a mold infestation).  Under these circumstances, the mold infestation could potentially be covered by the insurance policy.

If you have concerns about what may be excluded from your boat insurance coverage, do not hesitate to contact a Miami insurance claim lawyer right away. We are here to help.

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