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What You Need To Know About Boat Insurance In Florida

Fri Apr 15th, 2022 on     Insurance Claims,    

Living in Florida means being surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and multiple bodies of freshwater. It really is a dream come true for fishermen, kayakers, and others that enjoy being in the surf and sun. For many people in our beautiful state, making the most of their time on the water also means investing in a boat, or other watercraft. Still, others need boats to maintain their professions. Whatever the reason they own them, boat owners need to understand boat insurance and contact our Miami insurance law attorneys when issues or questions arise. 

Boat Insurance Not Required

While boat insurance is not required in Florida, it is highly recommended. Without it, you risk losing your investment should your boat be damaged or destroyed by fire, accident, or even theft. You also lose the coverage a boat insurance policy provides if you cause an accident.  

Your homeowner’s insurance policy may offer some coverage for your boat, but this varies from policy to policy, and even if it does exist, it is usually a nominal amount of coverage. 

Coverage Issues to Consider

When shopping around for an insurance policy, or reading over a policy you’ve already purchased, there are certain matters you should be on the lookout for. This includes:

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage is arguably the most important part of the insurance policy. If another party claims to have suffered an injury while on your boat, or because of your boat, your insurance policy can provide coverage for that injury. It is also there to pay for any damage your boat causes to the property of another person. Liability coverage is a great thing to have when you are at fault in a boating accident, as it will pay for the other party’s losses. Without it, you may personally be on the hook for covering these damages. 

Deductible Amount

A deductible is an amount you are responsible for paying towards a claim before the insurance company pays the amount they owe under the terms of the insurance policy. Deductible amounts are determined in one of two ways. First, they may be a set dollar amount, such as $500, $1,000 or $2,000. This is the most common way a deductible is determined. The other way is as a percentage of the total policy amount.  For example, a 1% deductible for a boat insured at $150,000 would be $1,500. 

Living in Florida, it is important to look for whether or not an insurance policy contains a named-storm deductible. If your boat is damaged in a hurricane, there may be a special deductible amount you will have to pay. 

Generally speaking, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium, and vice-versa. 

Coverage for Uninsured Watercraft 

Since insurance is not required by Florida law, you should definitely look for coverage for uninsured watercraft in any insurance policy you are considering. This type of insurance exists so that if any uninsured boater causes an accident with your boat, the damages caused to your boat, as well as your medical costs, will be covered. It prevents you from having to pay out of pocket or having to personally pursue the person that is at fault in court (although this may still be an option you wish to discuss with one of our Miami insurance law attorneys).

Fuel Spill Coverage

Leaking or spilling fuel or oil into United States waters is against federal law, and you may be held liable for the clean-up if you are responsible for any leaks or spills. Because of the costs involved, it is a good idea to look for this type of coverage in an insurance policy. 

Unattached Equipment Coverage

There is a lot of equipment and items normally found on a boat that may, or may not, be covered in the policy. Many of these items are expensive, so it is important to check and see if a policy provides coverage for:

  • Skis
  • Anchors
  • Scuba Diving Equipment
  • Snorkeling Equipment
  • Fishing Gear
  • Jewelry
  • Cell Phones

Physical Damage Coverage

Even the most careful boaters experience boat damage. Physical damage coverage provides coverage to the actual boat itself. It can pay for damages a boat sustains while docked or in storage, as well as when it is out in the water. It can cover all parts of the boat, including the interior.

Medical Payment Coverage

Medical payment insurance provides coverage in the event a person is injured by your boat or while in your boat. It can cover skiers and tubers, and fault is typically not a determining factor in whether or not this coverage will apply. Coverage amounts vary.

Navigational Area

Some insurance policies limit coverage to certain waters. It is important to know if a policy limits where you may boat before you make a claim only to have it denied because you are in an uncovered area. 

Beware of Policy Exclusions

While it is important to know what a boat insurance policy does cover, it is equally important to know what it does not cover. While every policy is different, common exclusions in basic boat policies are:

  • Mold 
  • Manufacturer’s Defects
  • Design Defects
  • Wear & Tear
  • Infestations & Marine Life
  • Unnamed Operators
  • Improper Storage and Transportation

If you believe your policy has incorrectly excluded a type of damage, consider speaking with one of our Miami insurance law attorneys.

How Your Boat Insurance Premium is Calculated 

There are different factors that insurance companies consider when determining how much a boat insurance policy premium will be. This includes:

  • Where You Boat
  • Age of Your Boat
  • Length/Size of Your Boat
  • Type of Boat 
  • Condition of Boat
  • Primary Location of Boat
  • Speed of Boat
  • Driving Record of Owner (Boat and Motor Vehicle)
  • Boat Safety Certifications of Owner
  • Liability Limits
  • Deductible

Speak With One of the Miami Insurance Law Attorneys at Ver Ploeg & Marino

If you are struggling with the insurance company regarding your boat’s coverage, contact our firm to schedule a consultation with one of our Miami insurance law attorneys.

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