N.Y. Senate Passes Bill Requiring Insurance on Public Boats

March 14, 2006

The New York State Senate has passed legislation (S.6828-B), sponsored by Senator Betty Little (R-C-I, Queensbury), that would require owners of public boats operating on navigable waters in New York State to obtain marine liability insurance.

The legislation would require that owners of commercial watercraft operating on New York’s navigable waters obtain a marine protection and indemnity insurance policy of not less than $1 million. The policy would have to be purchased from an insurance carrier or excess line broker authorized to do business in New York State.

Failure to obtain liability insurance would be a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 90 days.
Operating without liability insurance coverage would also result in the revocation of a boat owner’s certificate of inspection for at least one year.

Public boat owners could elect to voluntarily obtain marine liability coverage in excess of the $1 million minimum.
“The Ethan Allen tragedy on Lake George last fall has spotlighted the need for this legislation,” said Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno. “As elected officials, it is our duty to provide protection to the public. This bill is a commonsense solution, both to ensure the safety of New Yorkers and visitors who enjoy the State’s lakes and waterways, as well as the people who own and operate tour boats for their enjoyment.”

“The Ethan Allen boating tragedy last October brought to the forefront the need to update and improve New York’s navigation laws to ensure greater safety for the public,” Senator Little said. “Many people, including myself, were surprised to learn that tour boats are not required to carry liability insurance, although many do. Requiring liability insurance is certainly a reasonable and prudent step to take and would be in the best interests of the boating public as well as boat owners.”

The bill was sent to the Assembly.

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