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Boat Insurance Claims

Here in Florida, we have a lot of sunshine and a lot of water. Those elements combine to make us a boater’s paradise, as demonstrated by the over 870,000 boats registered here. Florida is also a haven for visitors who come by boat or bring their boat along. Although Florida law has strict registration policies, boat insurance is optional. Most boaters elect coverage, knowing there are many risks that come along with owning and operating a boat. Additionally, insurance may be required to dock in certain marinas or harbors, or if a boat is used by a buyer as collateral.

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of boats are not covered under homeowners’ policies. There may be minimal coverage for small boats valued at less than $10,000 that have no engine or a small engine. Similar to homeowners’ insurance, boat insurance offers liability coverage if someone is hurt on your vessel. Similar to auto insurance, boat insurance offers coverage for bodily injury caused to others, property damage inflicted on other objects, and damage done to the boat itself resulting from hitting an object. Unlike with those more common policies, insurance companies often allow boat policies to be suspended for periods when the boat is not in use. There may also be navigational limits dictated in the policy, optional endorsements that help pay to move the boat out of harm's way when a named storm is on its way, and coverage for consequential damage.

Avoid common boat maintenance-related failures by

  • Inspecting the sterndrive bellows every year and replacing them every 3 to 5 years.
  • Checking the stuffing box frequently and repacking it every spring.
  • Inspecting the engine raw-water hoses and replacing them at least every 10 years.
  • Replacing the impeller every other year.
  • Regularly inspecting cockpit plumbing, live-well plumbing, and all below waterline fittings.

While no boat owner likes to think about it, boats sink – a lot. In fact, sinking is the No. 1 cause of major marine losses and one of the factors in driving up insurance costs. Insurers define a sinking boat as one that must be actively pumped out to remain afloat and undamaged. Surveys have shown that leaks at through-hulls are estimated to be the cause in 18 percent of sinkings while under way. Failures of fittings below the waterline account for half of all sinkings at dock. The most common parts that result in issues include hoses/hose clamps, stuffing boxes, outdrive bellows, and sea strainers. Losses that start with a failed part are covered by consequential damage protection, making it a crucial part of any boat insurance policy.

Bilge pumps should not be relied on to handle nuisance water in the long term. If there is a gradual leak due to failing parts, it should be addressed in a matter of a few days or weeks. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of time until the pump fails, loses power, or is overwhelmed by the water. Other reasons for sinking include improper docking, hitting something, failing to secure an otherwise working fitting, and being swamped. Negotiating with an insurance company after loss of your boat can be complicated. Talk with an attorney who can shoulder the burden of the claim while ensuring that you are fairly reimbursed.

We Can Help

Insurance policies are legally binding contracts that lay out obligations for each party. Policyholders who pay their premiums expect their insurance companies to compensate them fairly in the event of a claim – and rightly so. Unfortunately, insurance agencies are businesses; and to stay in the black, they want to pay the claim for as little as they possibly can. Here at Stabinski and Funt, P.A., we handle a wide range of insurance cases and we are prepared to fight for you against insurance companies that have wrongfully denied or delayed claims, or failed to adequately cover the damage. We are highly experienced in handling boat loss claims and, in many cases, we can do so without cost to you. Fees and expenses are frequently paid by the insurance company, so nothing comes out of your recovery. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 305-964-8644 or filling out a free case evaluation form.

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