The order in which you take care of boating season to-do’s is important. Once you’ve chosen where your boat will spend the summer, you’re presented with a contract from the boatyard or marina. The contract will likely cover risk shifting, subrogation, limited liability, and exculpation — if your boat is damaged while repairing, launching, moving, or hauling it, you’ll excuse the marina or boatyard from any liability and cover your damages as well as other costs, fees, and expenses incurred. When it comes to people-related accidents, the contract may prohibit you from suing, whether it happened due to clumsiness or a rotted board on the stairs.
Most marinas will likely step up if they were negligent, as operators are in business to keep valued customers. Nevertheless, businesses require customers to sign contracts for a reason, so if there’s a clause that transfers all financial responsibility to the vessel owner, it may be enforced without any recourse on your part.
Read the contract, question the clauses, negotiate where you can, and understand what you’re signing. After that, provide the contract to your insurance agent and ask, “Am I covered for every eventuality?” If not, it’s time to increase coverage to avoid costly surprises.
Maritime and civil laws vary and contract terms differ; seek legal advice for your situation.