Florida boating requirements - do you need it?
A license is not required to own a boat in Florida. Insurance is also technically not mandatory either, though there are many situations in which it may be advantageous for you to have boat insurance.
Boat registration and titling requirements
There are some requirements that typically come with operating a boat in Florida. This includes possessing a boating safety identification card. You may also need to register and title the boat with the state of Florida.
According to the FWC, your Certificate of Registration has to be on board and available for inspection during the operation of your boat, and the watercraft should be registered and numbered within 30 days of its purchase.
Boat insurance in Florida
Having an insurance policy on your boat is not mandated by Florida state law. If you want to take out a loan and use your boat as collateral, the lender may require you to have insurance to cover any potential damages to the boat. If you want to dock your boat in a Florida marina, boat liability insurance may also be required by the marina. That way, you are financially protected in case you are found liable for any injury or damages to others.
What can boat insurance cover?
Depending on the specific policy you choose, coverage and rates may vary. Typically, a boat insurance policy will cover damages that occur to your watercraft and/or your possessions on the watercraft. Whether the damages occur on the water or while the boat is in storage, the insurance policy should still provide coverage.
There is usually a deductible for damages to your boat or personal property on the boat. The deductible is what you need to pay before your insurance kicks in and begins providing coverage, and the amount varies based on what premium you pay.
Water vessels can require repairs and maintenance to keep them running smoothly. If the costs are higher than your deductible, then you may be eligible to file a claim for financial compensation.
Many people choose to sail in the summer months when the weather is warm and accommodating. During the winter months, it is common for boats to sustain damage if they are not being operated.
Liability coverage is extremely important. It protects you financially in case of an accident in which you are found at fault or responsible for bodily injuries or property damage. Liability insurance usually offers financial protection for:
- Bodily injury liability
- Medical expenses
- Property damages
- Claim and defense expenses
In a state like Florida, the abundance of boats means that it may be easier to collide with other boats. Collisions with docks and marinas may also be a concern. Of course, most people expect never to get into a boating accident.
Insurance is here as a way of supporting you through the unexpected.
If you are found at fault for a collision, it can be a costly litigation process, especially if there is injury or death involved. Having adequate coverage can help you meet the potentially devastating expenses related to such accidents.
Medical bills from injuries can accumulate quickly if there is an accident involving a collision with a swimmer or water skier. If there is an injury sustained to a party on your boat while it is being operated, the policy may also cover all the necessary expenses.
Other damages boat insurance can cover
Insurance can go a long way in granting you and your family peace of mind when it comes to preparing and protecting yourselves from the unexpected.
If you choose an umbrella liability insurance policy, it may be able to provide you with more comprehensive and reliable protection. An umbrella liability insurance may be able to expand your coverage from mere boats to the following:
- Home (either primary home or seasonal residence, which is common in Florida)
- Rental properties
When you’re on the water, it’s also possible to become stranded, especially if there are poor weather conditions. Towing insurance can help cover costs related to your boat being stranded and then needing to be towed to safety.
If you store your vessel outdoors, it may be necessary to have insurance to cover acts such as theft and vandalism since these can result in expensive replacement or repair costs.
Note that if you are planning on taking your boat into a new, further navigational territory, such as leaving Florida waters to visit the Bahamas, your insurance may not provide adequate coverage in the new area. In this case, you may be able to request from your insurer additional coverage for the new navigational territory.
All-perils vs named-perils coverage
In Florida, a boat insurance policy may be a named-perils or an all-perils policy. An all-perils policy, also called open perils insurance, tends to be more expensive. However, it can be an advantageous choice for you as it provides more comprehensive coverage and peace of mind.
Other than the damages and situations that are explicitly excluded from the policy, an all-perils policy is fairly comprehensive. If the expenses that you need to pay to exceed your policy’s primary liability limit, an all-perils umbrella policy can kick in and cover the outstanding costs for you.
Does homeowners insurance cover boats?
Sometimes, a homeowners insurance policy will provide additional coverage for your watercraft.
This may not be the case depending on who your insurance carrier is and what type of watercraft you own, so it is important to double-check with your insurance agent to see if you are adequately covered through your current homeowners insurance in Florida.
Why should you get Florida boat insurance?
If you own a boat that costs more than a thousand dollars or one that is motorized, you may wish to consider boat insurance. Otherwise, you might have to pay out of pocket for the high repair or replacement costs.
In case you own a yacht, jet ski, or other luxurious brand of high-value watercraft, it may be desirable to ensure you have the proper insurance policy in place. This is because many regular boat insurance policies do not cover damages or expenses related to these.
Liability coverage is an important part of boat insurance, and it is always good to check that your policy includes coverage for damages to others, whether bodily injury or property damage. While insurance may not be enough to avoid litigation, it can potentially assist you in paying for any necessary related expenses.
Uninsured boat owners coverage can also be helpful, as it covers damages to you or your boat when the party at fault does not have proper insurance.
Florida hurricane season
Florida is infamous for its extreme weather conditions and is prone to hurricanes. This affects the way insurance companies deal with boat insurance in Florida. Boats can sustain unfortunate damages due to hurricanes, storms, and other natural causes.
Wind coverage may be considered separate from the typical boat insurance policy. In some cases, an insurance company might demand proof of a hurricane action plan in regards to caring for your boat before they will agree to cover your water vessel.
In addition, if your boat insurance does cover storm damages, it is also important to take note of whether your policy has quantified a storm or hurricane-specific deductible. Knowing the number can be valuable when it comes to determining which insurance policy is right for you because the extra storm deductible may be as high as 10% of your boat’s value.
Do you need a boat safety inspection?
Depending on the age and model of your water vessel, you may want to consider performing a formal boat safety inspection. Since buying a boat can be a significant financial investment, it is a good idea to inspect the boat. If you are about to purchase boat insurance, knowing your boat’s current condition can give you a better idea of what coverage you may need.
A typical boat inspection will include examining the hull, keel, deck, lights, windshield, and other exterior parts. Interior parts such as the upholstery, galley, and cabin security are important components to inspect. The engine is also a critical indicator of the boat's condition.
For safety reasons, it is recommended that you keep a selection of emergency items and safety equipment on your boat. This includes a medical kit, oars in case the engine breaks, a radio to call for help, and a heavy-duty flashlight.
What to consider when getting boat insurance
Insurance can be unnecessarily confusing to navigate. Let our team at Worth Insurance help you find affordable coverage that suits your needs best!
Everyone’s boating situation is different. Depending on the type of boat you own, different insurance carriers may give you various rates for your boat insurance. We can get you the cheapest quotes from all the top Florida insurers in one convenient place.
Worth Insurance can help you with boat insurance, as well as other types of insurance you may want cheap quotes on, including homeowners insurance, flood insurance, and auto insurance. You can schedule your consultation today!