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Old 16-02-2018, 12:01   #1
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Should there be mandatory liability insurance for boats?

Desiring your thoughts regarding boat owners' responsibility as to liability for recovery, removal, transport and disposal of abandoned, sunk, or beached boats and of the costs of rehabilitation and repair caused by such boats. Also desire your thoughts as to if it is appropriate for jurisdictions [i.e., countries, states, provinces, municipalities, etc.] to require boat owners to have substantial liability insurance to pay the costs of recovery, removal and disposal?

The reason I ask is that today I read an article by National Public Radio [NPR] on Yahoo News regarding the US Coast Guard having recovered 750 + sunken, damaged or beached boats from Puerto Rico and the USVI, involving using cranes on barges to extract vessels and then have to place them aboard ships and barges for transport to the mainland for final disposal at great expense to the US taxpayers, which in my opinion should be the responsibility of each of the owners of such vessels. There are apparently about 150 more yachts remaining to be recovered. I suspect that there have been many private efforts for recovery, but my main concern lies in the fact that it seems that the public is having to deal with the cost. I am okay with the public taking the lead in the massive effort, just not with the assuming the burden of the cost.

Presently States require that vehicle owners have minimum liability insurance for land transport vehicles operating on public roads and lands. It seems that similar requirements should apply to water transport vessels, perhaps enhancing enforcement by mandating proof of such insurance before annual registration and significant fines if there is a lapse in insurance if the vessel is placed in the water, and when a vessel is permitted for enter within country.

On my vacation trip to Puerto Rico and five of the windward islands last month, I spotted a lot of damaged, sunken, beached vessels, especially at the USVI [St. Thomas and St. John], only noted a few at San Juan. The hurricanes took an immense toll.

Snipets copied from the linked article are copied below.

https://www.npr.org/2018/02/16/58543...virgin-islands


"Using cranes mounted on barges, the Coast Guard so far has removed more than 750 boats from the water, beaches, and mangroves in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The most time-consuming salvage operations are those in environmentally sensitive areas. Working with marine biologists, DiPaola says they'll sometimes use inflatable devices to lift the boats over hazards like seagrass and coral. He mentions one problematic boat near three beds of endangered elk horn coral."
"The Coast Guard is happy to return the boats to owners at no charge. It saves the government the cost of transporting and disposing of the wrecks. But, in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, most owners don't want their boats back. Tracy Keel, with the Army Corps of Engineers, is part of the team working on boat removal. He did a similar job on the Gulf coast after Katrina. In Louisiana and Mississippi, he says, "a lot of the owners came and got the boats and took them back. Not so much here. There are a lot of folks that have just pretty much said, 'I don't want to deal with it,' or they didn't have insurance."
The article mentions the extensive efforts that Thatcher Lord and Vicki Rogers from Maine made to patch underwater, refloat and recover their sunken 41-foot Rhodes Reliant built in 1964. They didn't just walk away from their vessel.
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Old 16-02-2018, 12:15   #2
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Re: Should there be mandatory liability insurance for boats?

Yes there should
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Old 16-02-2018, 12:16   #3
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Re: Should there be mandatory liability insurance for boats?

Yes! There should be a requirement for liability insurance.

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Old 16-02-2018, 12:20   #4
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Re: Should there be mandatory liability insurance for boats?

ABSOFRIGGINLUTELY ! Thanks for raising this issue.
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Old 16-02-2018, 12:25   #5
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Re: Should there be mandatory liability insurance for boats?

Now, for many decades in places like New York, if your auto insurance lapsed for any reason, the insurer sent a list of those people to the state overnight, every night. And then the state sent out a letter saying "If you can't explain this, we'll be towing your car." Real fast.

Couple of years ago, someone in Florida (1 in 4 drivers is unlicensed and uninsured, as compared to 1:10 nationally) complained about uninsured motorists, and the state of Floridia said it was "technologically impossible" to do anything about that. Apparently, it is illegal to export computers from the mainland to Floridia, who knew.

In Florida, and some other states, folks buy their insurance on a weekly payment basis, and then immediately after registration, the cancel it. So they only pay for one week every year.

Got any other good ideas?

Maybe a law banning incompetent public officials?
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Old 16-02-2018, 12:26   #6
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pirate Re: Should there be mandatory liability insurance for boats?

There kind of is in Europe.. when you go into any marina or rent a mooring, if you do not have a minimum of liability insurance you cannot stay.. staying full time on the hook is another matter.
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Old 16-02-2018, 12:35   #7
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Re: Should there be mandatory liability insurance for boats?

I agree with your proposal, Montanan, but I expect a chorus of people to follow with talk of over-regulation, individual liberty, freedom-of-the-seas, and too many laws already. The problem I have with that talk is what we're seeing in USVI - the cleanup of those freedom-loving people's boats is happening, but at my expense as a tax-payer. If you want to be free and sail without insurance or rules, go ahead, but don't pick my pocket if you screw up. I wonder how many of those 750 boats actually did have liability insurance, and the government never made a claim against it because they were picking up boats anyhow.

The same could be said for any derelict boats that homeowners complain about (Florida comes to mind, but other high-rent areas have the same problems). As long as it has a state sticker, it's fine anchored. Let your sticker lapse by a day, and the state patrol cuts your anchor line and hauls it to the landfill.
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Old 16-02-2018, 12:39   #8
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Re: Should there be mandatory liability insurance for boats?

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
There kind of is in Europe.. when you go into any marina or rent a mooring, if you do not have a minimum of liability insurance you cannot stay.. staying full time on the hook is another matter.
Virtually every marina and yacht club in North America have a written policy requiring a minimum (variable) amount of liability insurance however ...... In almost 30yrs of cruising I have never been asked for proof of insurance unless booking a slip for the entire season.
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Old 16-02-2018, 12:40   #9
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Re: Should there be mandatory liability insurance for boats?

For all intents and purposes there is! Try getting a slip in a marina without at lease Liability (and proof of) insurance! Seeing alot of abandoned and sunk vessels in the wake of a hurricane doesn't necessarily mean those boats didn't have insurance, just means that there aren't the resources available to deal with them all swiftly. Some of the boats you saw probably don't have insurance, that's for sure.
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Old 16-02-2018, 12:45   #10
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Re: Should there be mandatory liability insurance for boats?

We carry liability in the US. But when out cruising, especially if more than roughly two countries are on the agenda per year it gets tough. Last time out we were naked insurance wise.

If someone can point to a global liability insurance provider I may carry liability. But as PCCM points out, even with insurance the government contracted salvage company may get to the pile of boats first and sort out ownership and insurance liabilities later.
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Old 16-02-2018, 12:47   #11
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pirate Re: Should there be mandatory liability insurance for boats?

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatpoker View Post
Virtually every marina and yacht club in North America have a written policy requiring a minimum (variable) amount of liability insurance however ...... In almost 30yrs of cruising I have never been asked for proof of insurance unless booking a slip for the entire season.
Here.. when you book in its Passport/ID card, Registration and Insurance must be provided.. if they're in a bad mood you may be asked for certification/licence.. depending on your flag.
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Old 16-02-2018, 12:50   #12
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Re: Should there be mandatory liability insurance for boats?

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Here.. when you book in its Passport/ID card, Registration and Insurance must be provided.. if they're in a bad mood you may be asked for certification/licence.. depending on your flag.
Don't appreciate much about European bureaucracy but they got this part right.
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Old 16-02-2018, 12:59   #13
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Re: Should there be mandatory liability insurance for boats?

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Originally Posted by boatpoker View Post
n almost 30yrs of cruising I have never been asked for proof of insurance unless booking a slip for the entire season.
Ditto; thirty years ago my liability coverage was about four times the value of the vessel, now it is something like 150 times its value... that should send gladdening cardiac palpitations to some bureaucrat somewhere...
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Old 16-02-2018, 13:02   #14
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Re: Should there be mandatory liability insurance for boats?

Is anybody familiar with the insurance rules on commercial craft? I'm guessing it's mandatory even on the smallest vessels, at least in the US. Not much of a stretch to take that to recreational craft. I suppose they could draw the line on human powered vessels or something.

Which makes me wonder: who, if anyone, is insuring rental paddleboards, kayaks, dinghies, etc? Those guys can be a real menace!
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Old 16-02-2018, 13:06   #15
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Re: Should there be mandatory liability insurance for boats?

Okay, so in reading some of the initial reply comments, it seems that marinas may require insurance, probably to provide primary coverage for their facility and as to coverage of other guest boats and persons. But that kind of standard property and personal liability insurance is apparently different from Salvage, Wreck Removal and Environmental Damage coverage which likely are additional scope of liability coverage. These are the type of coverage that would seemingly pay for the public expenses that are being incurred. The environmental repair costs alone can be huge, e.g., fuel and oil spills.

Copied below from a global marine insurance website:

Unfortunately, if you donít review your yacht insurance carefully, you could end up with coverage issues.

When youíre a recreational boater, you expect your yacht insurance will be enough to make repairs or replace your marine investment if the worst happens.

Here are some typical yacht insurance coverage issues that our insurance specialists can help you understand:

Salvage costs Ė In recent years weíve had superstorms and
hurricanes, that have wreaked havoc on marinas and shorelines. If your yacht were to fall victim to these kinds of violent outbursts of nature, you might find yourself responsible for salvaging your yacht. How these salvage costs are covered varies from policy to policy, with some subtracting the salvage costs from the allotted repair budget and other policies only covering a specified percentage of the total cost. There are also options to have separate salvage coverage up to the insured value of the yacht. Itís important you know what you want and what type of coverage you currently have.

Wreck removal Ė Sometimes, unfortunately, thereís nothing left to salvage after a natural disaster, fire, or act of vandalism. You canít assume that if your yacht is damaged beyond repair or sinks that your yacht insurance covers having the wreck removed and discarded properly. Find out if you would be expected to pay for this service yourself or if the wreck removal would fall under the liability coverage up to a certain amount. Again, itís important that you make an informed decision about the type of coverage you have for your yacht so you donít end up with a nasty shock in the event of a problem.

Environmental damage Ė Having your yacht damaged or sunk could have dire consequences on the environment if, for example, there is a fuel spill. Under federal law, you can be held liable for a fuel spill, and it could run you as much as $854,000. So itís important that you know whether you are subject to a ďcovered lossĒ clause, which would mean you would have no compensation if the fuel spill was deemed to have occurred because of wear and tear or corrosion rather than an accident or mishap. Many choose to opt instead for a fuel-spill liability that falls under the overall liability limit.

Insurance policies are complicated subject matter, what is not said is as important as what is said. My post being about public policy and regulation, e.g., requiring full prepayment of insurance for a forward period of time [e.g., the year of effective registration] so as to not allow for lapse due to non-payment between registrations, which is common as to utilization of a separate policy financing service whereby the underwriter is paid in full at time of policy issuance and the separate financing company collects installments during the policy period which is the practice my company uses for Directors and Officers, Employee Practices Liability, Product Liability, Property Coverage, Kidnap and Ransom, Business Interruption, etc. coverages.
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