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Uninsured Boater Coverage

Fri Jan 15th, 2021 on     Insurance Claims,    

Get Help From an Experienced Miami Insurance Claim Lawyer

Boating accidents are not uncommon, particularly in Florida, which is a boating paradise for both tourists and locals alike.  In fact, Florida leads the nation in boating accidents, deaths, and injuries — in 2018 alone, a U.S. Coast Guard survey revealed that there were 607 boating accidents resulting in 57 deaths, 297 injuries, and more than $7 million in property damage.

As one can reasonably ascertain, protecting oneself against loss is critical given the relatively high likelihood of a boating accident in Florida.  However, doing so may require that you purchase uninsured boater insurance coverage.  Many boaters simply do not purchase liability insurance, and as such, when they cause collision accidents with other boaters, they may not be able to cover the losses.  This can put you in a vulnerable position if you’re involved in a boating accident with an uninsured boater — unless, of course, you purchase uninsured boater insurance coverage.

If you’ve been injured in a boating accident, it’s important that you consult with a lawyer for guidance on how to submit a marine claim that will be accepted by the insurer — further, in the event of a claim denial, your attorney can help you challenge the decision and secure the payment you deserve.

For now, let’s take a closer look at some issues commonly encountered with uninsured boater coverage.  After all, just because you’ve purchased uninsured boater insurance doesn’t necessarily mean that the insurer will cover the loss — even though when you purchased the policy, it seemed as though the coverage would be more comprehensive.

Ambiguous Terminology

Our Miami insurance claim lawyer knows that one of the key issues in uninsured boater insurance disputes is the ambiguity of certain legal terminology.  For example, there have been cases in Florida wherein the insurance policy does not cover accidents unless caused by a hit-and-run watercraft.  In other words, the policy does not cover an accident caused by an uninsured boater if the uninsured boater did not physically collide with the policyholder’s boat. This interpretation can be somewhat unfavorable.

Suppose that you are involved in an accident with an uninsured boater.  You are operating your boat when the uninsured defendant suddenly speeds past you and into your path.  You have no option except to turn suddenly, which causes you to crash into rocks and sustain significant damage to your boat.

If your uninsured boater insurance coverage contains “hit and run” terminology, then the insurer may deny the claim.  After all, you did not technically collide with the defendant’s boat, even though their negligence caused your collision with the rocks.  To succeed, your attorney will have to identify ambiguity in the legal terminology and convince the court to interpret it in a manner more favorable to you (the policyholder).

Limitations and Exclusions

Common exclusions in uninsured boater insurance coverage include:

  • No coverage for collisions with government watercraft
  • No coverage for non-residents and non-family
  • No coverage if you contributed to the accident through your own negligence
  • And more

For example, suppose that you are involved in a boating accident with an uninsured boater defendant.  The case is nuanced in that the defendant boater was mostly responsible for the collision accident. Still, you did commit negligence because one of your lights was broken, which may have influenced the defendant’s ability to “see” you at night.

Under these circumstances, you may be found contributorily negligent.  If the insurance policy excludes coverage when you — the policyholder — are contributorily negligent, then you may have your claim denied, even if your fault contribution is minuscule in the overall context of the accident.

When there are broad exclusions, insurers often attempt to have “friendly calls” with policyholders after an accident to secure the information they need to deny the claim.  As such, it is absolutely critical that you avoid speaking with an insurance representative without the guidance of an experienced Miami insurance claim lawyer who will advocate on your behalf and prevent any unnecessary, damaging disclosures.

Securing Compensation Through Alternative Means

If you are subject to an exclusion or other limitation and are therefore unable to secure compensation through your insurance policy, there may be alternative means to obtain a payout to cover your losses — depending on the accident’s circumstances.

In general, look for liable defendants aside from the uninsured boater who caused the accident at-issue.

For example, it may be the case that the defendant’s boat contained defective equipment that contributed to the accident.  Under those circumstances, you would be entitled to sue and recover from the product manufacturer (according to product liability principles).  The manufacturer will not only have more resources (assets, insurance) to pay out for your losses but may also be willing to settle to avoid a lawsuit.

Contact a Miami Insurance Claim Lawyer for Help

Ver Ploeg & Marino, P.A. is an insurance litigation firm based out of Miami, FL, with decades of experience representing policyholders in a range of disputes, up to and including those that involve boating insurance coverage (such as uninsured boater insurance).  Our team has worked extensively with policyholders, helping them navigate the challenges of securing compensation despite an insurer who has denied, undervalued, or otherwise engaged in adverse behavior to avoid paying out what the policyholder is owed.

We believe that effective advocacy requires a willingness to take a case to trial.  Here at VPM, we have a deep bench of litigators who are willing and able to proceed through to trial — this gives us substantial leverage in negotiating a resolution with insurers early on.  This approach to working with our clients (against insurers) often gets favorable results.

If you’d like to speak to an experienced Miami insurance claim lawyer at VPM, we encourage you to contact us to schedule a consultation at your earliest convenience.  We look forward to speaking with you.

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