Important Precautions and Insurance Coverage Options for Florida Boat Owners [Part II]

J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo
Founder of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A.

This is the second installment of our two-part blog post that provides suggestions for boat owners who are getting ready for boating season.  While Part I of this blog focused on appropriate checkups for vessels to avoid accidents and claims, this installment focuses on issues that should be reviewed as part of a boat insurance policy checkup.  While the safety and maintenance steps in Part I of this blog can reduce the risk of accidents and other problems out on the waterways, boat owners also should consider reviewing their policy to ensure they understand their coverage and that it is current.

Lay-Up Warranty Coverage: A lay-up warranty provides a premium discount with the understanding that the boat will not be used during designated periods during the year.  This type of provision is most common in policies written for boats in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Midwest.

Deductibles: Boat insurance policies often carry special deductibles that apply to certain types of perils.  For example, the amount of the deductible might be higher if damage to the boat is caused by hurricanes or windstorms.  If policyholders do not review their policy for these special deductibles, they might experience an unpleasant surprise when their boat is damaged. 

Policy/Coverage Limits: If an individual’s policy coverage is calculated on an agreed value basis, the boat owner should confirm that the amount is consistent with the current fair market value of the vessel.  If the vessel is a yacht or other large watercraft, the insured should confirm that the survey is current.  Similarly, the coverage limits should be reviewed if significant improvements are made to a boat, such as installing a new outboard motor.  There are other policy restrictions that might also limit covered activity when using your boat.  If you plan to use your vessel for business purposes, such as offering charter business excursions, you will need special coverage.  If a new captain or newly licensed family member will be operating your vessel, this also might necessitate changes to your policy.

Navigational Restrictions: All boat insurance policies include a navigational limits warranty.  These limits apply to where a vessel is docked as well as where it is navigated.  If you plan to navigate a new course, you should review your policy to ensure that the navigational restrictions are up to date. 

Excess Liability Coverage: The underlying limits on your boat insurance policy should be reviewed in the context of any umbrella policy.  If your boat is listed on your umbrella policy, you need to confirm that your boat policy limits comply with the mandatory underlying limits imposed by your personal excess policy.

If your boat is damaged in a hurricane or other form of hazard, you should be able to rely on your insurance carrier to cover your loss.  If you are a boat owner who is struggling to get your boat insurance company to treat you fairly, you are welcome to contact my Miami insurance claims dispute law firm.  My law firm represents policyholders in claims disputes in Miami and throughout Florida.  The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations with an experienced Miami boat insurance attorney.  No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees.  Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.

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