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Is Boat Insurance Mandatory In Florida?

Is Boat Insurance Mandatory In Florida?
If you’ve just purchased a boat for the first time in Florida, or if you’ve just moved south and brought your boat with you, you will want to get your new vessel legal and safe for Florida’s amazing waterways as soon as possible.
One of the first questions likely to occur to you is “Is boat insurance legally required in Florida?” The short answer to that question is “no,” but read on for more detailed information.

How To Get A Boat Legal In Florida
There is no state law that requires any Florida boater to buy boat insurance, but if you do not own your boat free and clear, your lender is likely to require boat insurance (maybe including comprehensive coverage) as part of the financing contract. And if you keep your boat at a marina, the marina may require you protect it with boat insurance.

All boats in Florida have to be registered and titled with the state, unless the vessel is less than 16 feet long and has no motor. Thus, some small sailboats, kayaks, canoes, and rowboats are excluded from this requirement. And you don’t have to show proof of insurance to register and title a vessel like you do with an automobile.

Additionally, you will be required to pass a safety course and get a boating safety ID card and to carry life vests and some other safety equipment on your boat when in use.

Why It Makes Sense To Carry Boat Insurance
Lack of legal necessity aside, it only makes sense to protect yourself, your passengers, and your vessel with boat insurance if you plan to ply Floridian waters. The very popularity of Florida’s lakes, rivers, canals, and shorelines increases the odds of an accident, and the frequency of storms and hurricanes also is a major risk. And even if you don’t get caught out in a storm, your boat could get damaged at the dock.

Florida has more registered recreational vessels than any other US state, and it also has more serious boating accidents than anywhere else in the nation. While you are not required by law to insure yourself against damaging others’ boats or injuring others, the law does not shield you from liability either – and the costs could be tens of thousands of dollars or more in the event of a serious boating accident.

Formulating Your Boat Insurance Policy
There are many factors affecting how much and what kind of boat insurance to buy, but the basic coverage points are as follows:

  • Coverage of the vessel itself, for damage or full replacement, up to the limits of the policy.
  • Personal liability coverage and medical payments coverage. This is the core protection against accidentally damaging another boat, a dock, or injuring another person.
  • Motor insurance. Losing a motor in a lake or having it suffer from exposure to seawater or from hitting a rock or submerged object is expensive.
  • Trailer insurance. Protection of the boat trailer you use to transport your boat – and of the boat itself while so being transported is another key component of boat insurance.

There are also many riders you can add to your policy like for salvage and towing (or it might be included in the basic policy with some insurers), and you will need to decide on replacement cost or agreed-upon value for the insurance limit.

To talk to an experienced insurance agent today about customizing your own boat insurance policy, contact Flagler County Insurance Agency.