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What to know about renting and operating a jet ski or boat

Posted by Scott Stueber, CPCU, CISR, AAI on Jun 24, 2014 8:00:00 AM

girl on jetskiIt’s hard to believe after the long, cold winter, summer is here! The weather has finally gotten nice and it's time for another trip to northern Wisconsin. I can’t wait to hop on that jet ski and take it for a spin around the lake.

Many places rent jet skis or boats for a day or a week. They typically offer many options, which is nice because not everyone likes the same thing. What’s also nice is that my West Bend Home and Highway® policy provides automatic physical damage coverage if someone damages the jet ski. It also includes liability coverage for any injuries I might cause to someone else because of my driving.

I appreciate that this coverage is automatically provided and we don’t have to buy insurance from the rental facility. In fact, not only does my policy provide coverage under the homeowner’s portion, it also provides coverage under the umbrella portion.

You’ll have that coverage, too, if you have a Home and Highway policy. Keep in mind, however, that you have only as much coverage as your policy’s limits. So if you have $100,000 of homeowner’s personal liability coverage, that’s the maximum that will apply to your rented boat or jet ski if you’re liable for injuries to other people.

The physical damage limit will be the same as your personal liability limit. So if you carry $100,000 of personal liability, that’s also your physical damage coverage limit or what’s available to cover damages to the rented boat or jet ski.

Now keep in mind this is a feature of West Bend’s Home and Highway policy, so if you don’t have this insurance, you might want to check with your agent to see if you’re protected if you rent a boat or jet ski.

Here are safety tips and other resources to keep you safe if you’re boating or jet skiing this summer.

Safety Tips

  • Understand U.S. Coast Guard requirements and state laws and regulations.
  • Read your owner’s manual and understand the various on-board warnings located on your boat or jet ski.
  • Wear a life jacket. While this sounds like common sense, the excitement of getting on a jet ski or riding in a boat may take your focus off safety. A life jacket is like a seatbelt. It should be worn at all times because it can increase your chances of survival if there’s an accident. 
  • Stock your boat. Make sure you have an appropriate life jacket for each person onboard. An adult life jacket is not appropriate for children. In addition, if you plan to be on the lake for the day, make sure you have plenty of water, sunscreen, medications, and snacks. Lastly, make sure you have a fire extinguisher, flares, maps, and communication devices in case you run into trouble.
  • Bring a back up. If you’re boating with friends or family, make sure somebody other than the driver is familiar with the boat. It’s not a safe idea for one adult to take a boat full of children out tubing. If the primary driver is injured or unable to navigate, it’s vital that a passenger is also familiar with the boat and can get you back to land safely.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. Summer weather can change quickly. Pay attention to your local forecast and consider signing up for weather alerts that can be sent to your Smartphone.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Depending on the time of the year, boat traffic can be heavy on the lake. Make sure you always keep a close eye on what’s happening around you. If pulling a tube or skier behind your boat or jet ski, always have a spotter to alert you of issues.

Additional Resources

Sea Doo safety video

Boating Safety Resource Center

Al Roker Radio PSA

I can’t wait to get up north and enjoy summer activities, because before we know it, we’ll be shoveling snow again!

This article is intended for general educational and illustrative purposes only and should not be construed to communicate legal or professional advice. Further, this article is not an offer to sell insurance. Please consult with your licensed insurance agent for specific coverage details and your insurance eligibility. All policies are subject to the terms, conditions, limitations, definitions, and exclusions contained therein.

Topics: Boat Safety

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