Boat Marina Liability
If you assume that a marina will pay for damages, you may be in for a shock. It pays to read what you are signing.
Consider these scenarios ...
- The mechanic who works at your marina test drives your boat following engine repairs. Something goes wrong, he loses control, and the boat causes — and sustains — considerable damage when it bounces off another vessel and hits a dock.
- Party-goers on another boat wreak havoc at your marina, vandalizing several vessels, including yours. The marina's security guard failed to stop the mayhem.
- The dockhand your marina hired for the summer fills your boat's gas tank with water — and vice versa.
More and more, marina contracts include phrases such as, "The boat owner fully agrees and releases the marina from any liability for loss or damage to the boat, under any circumstance, including any negligent acts or omissions by the marina or its personnel." Besides shielding marinas and their insurers from having to dig deep to pay settlements for losses and damages, marinas can save considerable dollars by having customers sign "hold-harmless" clauses in rental agreements. These policies often have large deductibles and the premiums are going up every year.
Consumers who agree to hold-harmless clauses can find themselves between a rock and a hard place: a marina absolved of responsibility on one hand and their own insurance company that refuses to pay out claims on the other, because these clauses are often in conflict with the boat owner's insurance policy.
Always ask and consult with a professional.
With less protection from the marinas, can boat owners expect slip fees to go down? No. Marina customers find themselves in basically the same position as airline customers: The peanut packets are smaller and there's a lot less leg room, but ticket prices and baggage-handling costs are higher.