It seems like you want to go boating with your buddies but don't want to be the one to drive the whole time. If it's your boat, can somebody else drive it?
On prolonged voyages, it can be appealing to consider temporarily handing control of your boat to someone else. You can go fishing or just relax outside during this time. But what if something terrible occurs? Who will bear responsibility?
The majority of US states permit leasing your boat to someone else. However, the owner may be held responsible for any unpleasant events that occur while the other person is operating the boat. But you must first confirm with your boat insurance company if they will cover the damage in such a case.
The key is to get the consent of the boat owner. Whether or not you want the other person to operate your boat is entirely up to you. In the next sections, we are going to cover all the possibilities. You can use these to determine if you feel like giving someone else your boat.
Let's learn more about the insurance policies and laws of different states that regulate the use of a boat by individuals other than the owner.
Can I Let Someone Else Drive My Boat?
Yes, you can let some other individual drive your boat as it totally depends on your consent. You can also rent your boat out since it's your own legal property. But the problem here is the liability rather than the consent of the owner.
The boat and its owner are held responsible for some violations, while the driver is punished for other infractions. For instance, a driver will be held accountable for his own negligence if he suffers harm, causes an accident, endangers other motorists, or harms public property.
But if you've handed out a boat to a person without digging up his background information, you'll also be held responsible for any damage or violation of the laws equally.
The harm the other party does to your boat is a further issue. We advise you to add a formal written lease agreement to your contract and have your lessee sign it if you've opted to lend out your boat. The agreement should clearly indicate that the lessee is responsible for any and all damage caused to the boat during his use.
Is it Legal to Let Anyone Drive Your Boat?
In most states in the US, like Florida and Texas, you won't have any legal problems when you allow someone else to drive your boat. There are also no legal prohibitions against lending out one's boat. These states don't require boat insurance either.
But to avoid any legal involvement in the case of future mishaps, you must ensure:
- Your boat is safe and sound. There are no technical faults in it that may endanger a driver's life.
- The operator is an expert at driving boats and knows the specific waterway he wants to operate on.
- The age of the operator or lessee is more than 18 years.
- The operator or lessee has the driving license as required by the law.
Does Insurance Cover Other Boat Drivers too?
It depends on the insurance company's policies and guidelines. Boat insurance agreements do not require you to list the names of every person who will be operating your boat. Therefore, it is best to find out in advance if they will pay for damage caused by another driver.
If your insurer doesn't cover damages brought on by other drivers, you will be liable for the entire extent of the accident's liability and any related damage. On the other hand, if the insurer also provides insurance for other drivers, they will cover any damage your boat causes as long as the person operating it is legally permitted to operate a boat.
You won't have to worry about paying the damage out of your savings if your boat collides with another boat that has no insurance at all. Your insurer will take care of everything else; all you need to do is pay for damage to another boat.
Steps to Follow Before Letting Anyone Use Your Boat
The majority of boating accidents are caused by collisions with other vessels. As a result, you must take the following actions to prevent any collisions with other drivers:
- Verify the operator's boating license status. Ensure that he is more than 18 years old.
- Verify the driver's familiarity with the waterways that the boat is to be driven on.
- The next step is to determine whether your insurance will cover another operator or not.
- You may allow the other individual to use your boat if the aforementioned conditions are satisfied. If you are there when he drives the boat, keep an eye on him.
Considerations to Make When Leasing Your Boat
If you wish to lease your boat and have a question about letting someone else use it, don't forget to keep the following points in mind.
Eligibility for Insurance
If you are renting out your boat for a brief time, make sure the lessee is eligible for the insurance. You must first talk to your insurer because, during this time, insurance is primarily under your name.
If you fail to do this and your boat is damaged or stolen, your insurer will decline to pay if the lessee has a history of theft charges or convictions.
Eligibility for Boating
Make sure that the person you are lending your boat to is legally eligible to operate water vehicles. For example:
- The lessee must be licensed for boating.
- He must maintain secondary insurance on the boat.
- He must be 18 years old.
Get the opposite party to sign a documented leasing agreement. The lease should clearly stipulate that the lessee is required to maintain supplemental insurance for the duration of the lease of the boat. The contract must also specify that the boat must be returned after a certain amount of time and that failure to do so would result in a steep penalty.
In the agreement, you should include an additional clause stating that the boat cannot be used for any unlawful purposes. State that the lessee is not allowed to lend it further to anybody. He must pay the lease for the boat on time. In the event that payments are not completed on time, default occurs automatically without warning.
Don't Rent Out Your Boat
We'll seriously suggest you not rent out your boat. Ask the demanding person to borrow a boat from a boat dealer, not from you. If he's not eligible to do so, why should you hand over your boat to him in the first place?
It's best to keep your boat with you.
About THE AUTHOR
I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.Read More About Brian Samson