Contract Language and Boat Insurance in California

Owning a boat requires you to understand your coverage, including any exceptions that would leave you without coverage under certain circumstances. Many people believe their personal watercraft is covered by their homeowner policy. Consider the fact that, while the watercraft’s engine does fit the description of an inboard engine, if it has more than 50 horsepower there likely it isnt properly covered. This is a prime example of why it’s a good idea to have separate boat insurance in California.

Most boat owners pay attention to maintaining their vessel but they often forget that they also need to properly maintain the trailer as well. Its often subject to a lot more wear and tear than you may think, especially from contact with salt water. This can result in frozen brakes, flat tires and bad bearings. The majority of boat policies don’t include coverage for a trailer, but it can easily be added.

Having a good trailer is equally important

As much as you need to keep your boat in tip-top condition you also need the right tow vehicle and you have to have it situated on the trailer correctly. While your trailer may be designed to hold a 25-foot boat, not every 25-foot boat is going to sit on the trailer the same way. You have to have the right balance and the rollers have to be right as well. If the boat isn’t situated on the trailer correctly, you will not be able to tow it safely.

As an owner you need to read the boat policy carefully, understanding that in most instances you can’t waive any rights that belong to the insurance carrier. In addition, you have to sign annual dockage agreements and storage agreements that often include exculpatory language, including waivers of subrogation. Any agreement should provide for compensation in the event that the marina or boatyard damages your boat due to negligence, meaning that it will pay for repairs. In some contracts, the marina may disavow responsibility for anything, including gross negligence, even if one of its employees places a boat up on a lift and drops it.

These arrangements must be carefully structured so as not to void your policy. Have your agent or broker go over any issues that you may have difficulty understanding in your policy for boat insurance in California.