Florida

Florida has more registered boats than any other state in the country. As of 2016, The state of Florida reported 931,450 registered boats in the state. That number has grown over each of the last three years, from 896,632 in 2013. Florida possesses thousands of miles of rivers and lakes, prime for boating. In addition, the 1,350 miles of prime coastline ensure a boater’s paradise for anglers, cruisers, sailors, and any other boating activity you care to name. Florida also offers an ideal position for cruisers preparing for a crossing to the Bahamas. The many marinas and boating stores ensure that you can find any part you need, no matter how obscure.

Florida Boat Insurance

As in most other states, the state government of Florida does not require you to possess boat insurance. However, you should note that insurance is highly recommended, and you may still need to insure your boat. Why? Well, for a couple reasons.

  1. Loans: If you purchase your boat with the assistance of a loan, your lender will almost certainly require you to insure the boat. In fact, if the lender doesn’t insist upon it, you should probably not trust that lender. Lenders don’t want to lose 70% of the boat’s value if it’s lost. The bank or other lender will be listed as the lien-holder on the policy. Any compensation from your insurance company will therefore include them as a co-payee.
  2. Marinas: You may not face this if you keep your boat on a trailer. However, most marinas, yacht clubs, and dockyards throughout Florida will require you to show proof of insurance if you plan to dock there. Their reasons are simple. If your boat damages another, they want you to have the means to cover it.

Small Boat Insurance

So, if you don’t keep your boat anywhere near a marina and have it paid off, should you still buy Florida boat insurance? it’s an understandable question. Many Floridians keep there vessels on shore, whether at home, in garages, or on trailers. Kayaks are becoming the go-to affordable fishing platforms in much of the U.S., including Florida. As of 2016, there were 121,000 registered PWCs in the state. Jet Skis are generally cheaper than their larger speed boat cousins, and are easier to transport from home. In addition, plenty of people have paid off their pontoon or speed boat, and simply launch them when they go boating. Even in such instances, we highly recommend insurance for everyone. You can read more about PWC insurance here, and pontoon boat insurance here. You should strongly consider insurance for small boats, even if you don’t strictly need it.

Even Kayaks are worth insuring. If you and your family are the only operators, you likely don’t need liability insurance. You may still want to insure your kayak itself, however, to protect it from theft or vandalism. Many fishing canoes and kayaks can cost $1-2k. If someone steals it off your car or out of your garage, you want to be able to replace it. If you remain unconvinced on kayak insurance, Click Here.

It’s also just common sense. No one goes out on the water, planning to get in an accident. But accidents do happen, and disturbingly frequently.

The Stats:

What is the Cost?

Florida suffers by far the highest number of boating accidents per year at 684. Last year, those accidents totaled nearly $10 million in property damage. In Monroe and Miami-Dade counties alone, accidents in 2016 racked up nearly $1.5 million in property damage. If you look at Jet Skis, the numbers are particularly concerning. 1 out of every 70 PWCs in Monroe county was involved in an accident in 2016, to the tune of $53,000. Nearly half of all the PWC accidents in Florida involved an operator with fewer than 10 hours of experience. So even if you don’t go near Jet Skis, you should always stay vigilant. There are a lot of inexperienced drivers out there on the water with you.

How do Boating Accidents Happen?

Florida Boating Accident Statistics

The vast majority of Florida boating accidents, PWC or otherwise, fell into two categories:

  1. Collisions between two vessels
  2. Collisions with stationary objects like docks or restaurants

In addition, the reporting agency determined that most of those accidents involved operators without a lookout, or who were inattentive. It happens to all of us. It’s easy to get distracted, and 999 times out of a thousand, it doesn’t matter. But you should make sure you’re protected before you venture out on the water.

Where do Boating Accidents Happen?

It may surprise you, but most accidents occur in state waters, rather than offshore. Movies and tv shows often have us picturing boats sinking at sea, but it makes sense when you think about it. Inshore waters tend to be more crowded. There’s more to hit, essentially. Boats can and do suffer accidents and groundings offshore, but it’s far less common than the collisions that happen every day on Florida’s rivers, lakes, and coastlines.

Hurricanes

More storms hit Florida than any other U.S. state. In the last 27 years, 79 cyclones have hit the state, resulting in $73 billion in damages. Now, a great deal of that damage was to homes and businesses, but we should not ignore the massive damages incurred by boats in a hurricane. Winds up over 100kts, and storm surge displace boats with disturbing frequency. The latest storm, Irma, sustained winds of 185kts for 24 hours, longer than any other storm of that ferocity. With no indication that Hurricane frequency or strength is diminishing, you need to make sure you’re protected in the most hurricane-prone state in the nation.

What does that mean? Well,

  1. Buy an insurance policy
  2. Double-check it to make sure that it includes hurricane insurance.
  3. Make sure you know all the stipulations of your policy’s protection. They may require you to
    1. Move your boat,
    2. Take it to a specific marina, or
    3. Take it out of the water entirely and move it inside if a hurricane approaches.

If you don’t follow those stipulations and your boat is damaged, your insurance company is unlikely to cover it.