When you own a boating business in Rhode Island, you are responsible for keeping your employees safe while they’re working. One essential way to do that is to ensure your boats and crew have adequate insurance coverage.
While Rhode Island state law doesn’t require boats to carry liability insurance, having the right boat insurance in RI benefits everyone onboard if something goes wrong.
Meeting Legal Requirements
Even though liability coverage isn’t mandated, other types of boat insurance are required in certain situations.
For example, if you have a boat loan or keep your vessel at a marina, the lender or marina may stipulate that you have comprehensive and collision coverage at a minimum.
Additionally, you must carry Jones Act insurance if you employ a captain and crew. A federal law, the Jones Act gives seamen the right to file a lawsuit against their employers for injuries they sustained while working.
It requires vessel owners to cover medical treatment, wages while injured, and disability payments for employees hurt due to negligence.
Jones Act insurance fills gaps left by state workers’ compensation and gives injured crew members extra protections regular workers don’t receive.
Without this specialty coverage, you’d be personally liable for any awards crew members receive in injury lawsuits against you. A major Jones Act judgment could financially sink your company.
Common Boat Insurance Coverages
Experts recommend securing several boat insurance policy types beyond Jones Act insurance to protect your business assets and employees fully.
Here’s an overview of these essential policy types.
On recreational boats, bodily injury liability coverage helps pay accident-related medical bills for passengers hurt on your vessel who then sue you. Property damage liability assists with expenses if your boat causes damage to someone else’s vessel or property, such as a dock.
On commercial vessels, maritime employer’s liability is similar to Jones Act coverage but applies to employees exempt from the Jones Act, such as occasional workers.
This covers repairs or replacement if your boat suffers physical damage in a collision, sinking, fire, capsizing, vandalism, theft, or other covered peril. Hull insurance is required to get boat financing in most cases.
Unlike liability insurance, boat medical payment coverage helps reimburse passengers’ accident injuries regardless of who’s at fault. This provides even more protection for your crew.
This add-on coverage protects you if an at-fault boater with no liability insurance damages your vessel or injures your employees.
If your boat breaks down or runs aground while employees are aboard, towing coverage pays for a tow boat to bring your vessel to safety. Some plans also cover on-site mechanical troubleshooting.
How Much Boat Insurance Do You Need?
As you shop for boat insurance coverage amounts, experts offer this guidance:
- Insure your boat’s hull for its fair market value so it can be changed if destroyed.
- You should purchase limits from $300,000 to $1 million for liability insurance. Higher limits are better to defend against significant claims.
- Carry at least $25,000 in medical payments coverage.
- Towing policies with higher limits support costly long-distance tow situations more significantly.
What Affects Boat Insurance Costs?
Boat insurance rates depend on your vessel’s size, age, and type. Other variables include coverage levels, safety features, claims history, where the boat is moored, and your years of boating experience.
Improving risk factors within your control helps secure more affordable premiums. Strategies include:
- Taking boating safety courses
- Maintaining a clean claims record
- Choosing higher deductibles
- Implementing advanced fire safety systems
- Keeping detailed boat maintenance logs
- Completing regular inspections/surveys
- Docking at protected marinas or harbors
Shopping Tips For Boat Insurance
As you search for boat insurance quotes, compare policies from specialty marine insurers first. They offer coverage and risk expertise that most recreational carriers need to gain. Ask about policy options tailored to commercial vessels and working crews. Also, inquire about:
- Assistance in recovering employee wage losses after an accident
- Legal defense provisions in case a crew member names you in a Jones Act lawsuit
- Risk management guidance to help avoid crew lawsuits
An insurance agent specializing in commercial marine policies will provide advice to your business needs. Developing a relationship with an independent agent skilled in this niche area pays dividends over time.
Protect Your Employees with Boat Insurance in RI from JMG Insurance
Maintaining proper insurance is critical when employees’ safety is on the line. By understanding the various boat insurance coverage types and making informed choices, you can outfit your company with protection for your vessels, bottom line, and valued crew members.
Protecting your staff from harm conveys that you’re committed to their welfare, boosting recruitment, retention, and workplace culture.
Most importantly, adequate insurance helps everyone return to shore unscathed when accidents strike on Rhode Island’s sometimes unpredictable waters.
JMG Insurance Agency expert agents offer tailored guidance for securing the right commercial boat insurance in RI necessary for maritime employers.