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

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

The tropical weather and ample waterways of Florida make boating a popular recreational activity in Florida.  According to the Florida Department of Safety and Motor Vehicles, our state was home to nearly 900,000 registered vessels during 2014.  Miami-Dade County was home to over 63,000 of these boats.  Whether you own a commercial fishing boat, ski boat or yacht, maritime vessels entail a significant financial investment.  As spring approaches, boat owners are engaged in taking their boats out of storage to prepare for another season on the water.  There are important steps boat owners can take to protect their prized investments, keep their loves ones safe and maximize the time they spend enjoying their boat.  Our Miami boat insurance claims law firm has provided suggestions that policyholders can use to ensure their insurance and vessel are properly tuned up.

Because most boats have been idle for several months, harsh temperatures and salt air can take their toll.  This period of inactivity can promote deterioration of your vessel by drying out rubber parts like hoses and causing corrosion and rust.  If your boat also has been inactive during the prior boating season, this prolonged inactivity can accentuate the potential risks to your boat.  When a boat is docked in a sloop, for example, battery failure can prevent the pump from keeping up with rain, so the boat sinks.

Measures to Decrease the Risk of Insurance Claims

There is a basic checklist that boat owners should observe to get their boat ready for the boating season:

Tip #1 Follow a Maintenance Checklist.

Tip #2 Confirm Fluid and Battery Levels: If your boat has not been operated for more than a couple weeks, you should confirm fluid levels and the strength of the battery.  The electronic equipment of a boat, such as sonar, stereos and the water pump can quickly deplete the battery, so it is important to keep the battery switch in the off position.  The battery terminals and battery cables also should be inspected for corrosion.  Rust or corrosion should be removed with a wire brush.

Tip #3 Scan the Owner’s Manual: While you may follow a standard checklist or the marina may perform your maintenance, you should still check your owner’s manual for specific maintenance recommended by the manufacturer of your vessel.

Tip #4 Consider a Boat Safety Course: If you have not taken a boat safety course, you might want to enroll in such a course because it can keep you safe and reduce your premium payments.

Tip #5 Equip Your Boat for a Safety Check: Boats need to be equipped with specific equipment, which includes life jackets for every boat occupant, flares, fire extinguishers, horn and functioning navigation lights.

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 a Miami boat insurance lawyer.  No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees.  Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.

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