You have likely taken a good bit of time to pick out just the right boat for your purposes and enjoyment at Smith Mountain Lake. You also spent a fair amount of money to get one that will hopefully be of lasting quality. Now, the only thing left is daily upkeep and making sure you have your investment covered by the right insurance. Just like any other motorized vehicle you own, your boat needs good insurance as a back-up plan. Lori Wolak of The Lake Channel gives the feedback necessary to make wise insurance choices.
We all spend a lot of time selecting the boat we are going to enjoy. We pore over glossy brochures, go to boat shows, and look up the manufacturers on the Internet. We visit the sales showrooms, and debate over the width, length and every little detail of all the different boats we see. We want to make sure we choose the one that best fits our lifestyle and family. But when it is time to choose insurance for the boat, we usually just sign up for the first company we see that provides it. Maybe we are spending too little time on this critical detail.
Are there real differences between insurers when it comes to boats? A recent news story about a boater whose insurer declined to pay damages when he was found criminally negligent made me wonder. Are there other ground rules and loopholes we should be aware of in our boat insurance? God forbid, but if we should ever need to use the insurance, hopefully we won’t be unpleasantly surprised. I decided to use some of the winter downtime to find out more.
What I have found out is the laws, boating regulations and insurance policies are different for each state and from company to company. And that the old saying ‘buyer beware’ was never more true than when it comes to insurance! If you are not sure what your current policy covers, I recommend you take it out and review it after you read this article to make sure you have the coverage you need. Make sure you understand policy types, coverage limits and the limitations of your coverage before something happens to either your boat or your passengers.
The case I read about was pretty widely publicized. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that the “policy exclusion for criminal conduct embraces acts of negligence and not just intentional criminal acts.” Which boils down to, the insurance company does not have to pay any damages or wrongful death civil suit costs. I can understand that this is a reasonable stance by the insurance company. They should not be liable for something someone purposely did. That would equate to someone burning down their home on purpose and expecting the insurance company to pay.
Thanks to Lori Wolak of The Lake Channel for this fine article.