Insurance now required on larger and older boats

Published on Wed, Jul 9, 2014 by Steve Guntli

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To combat environmental problems created by sunken boats, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has spearheaded new laws for older and larger vessels. 

Under the new law, insurance is required on ships more than 65 feet long or over 40 years old. The new laws were approved by the state legislature on July 1, and apply to both private and commercial vessel owners.

“In recent years, the public has paid millions of dollars for hauling, cleaning up pollution and disposing of older, larger vessels that have sunk and contaminated the public’s aquatic lands,” said DNR aquatic resources manager Kristin Swenddal in a press release. “The new requirements are designed to place responsibility on vessel owners, and significantly reduce the potential financial impacts to the public.”

The new law will have ramifications for both sellers and buyers of larger and older ships. Sellers will be required to provide the buyer with marine survey inspection information and see proof that the buyer has purchased marine insurance before the title is transferred. The law only applies to new owners at the time of the purchase, not existing owners before July 14. 

Failing to secure insurance on a vessel could result in a misdemeanor charge for the buyer, and their moorage facility could cancel their moorage. Buyers and sellers who fail to obtain insurance can both be held liable if the vessel is damaged, abandoned or derelict.

Blaine harbormaster Andy Peterson said the new laws will not have much effect on Blaine Harbor.

“We’re already doing quite a bit of what they’re asking,” Peterson said. “We already require insurance for boats moored here at the harbor. What this law really seems to be doing is increase the vessel owner’s responsibility, and trying to close what could be perceived as a loophole.”

For more information on long vessel inspection and insurance, visit dnr.wa.gov.