What you need to know about boat repair orders
Throughout the course of our lives, we have all signed repair orders to have boats, cars and other vehicles repaired. Pretty standard stuff, right? Or is it?
Some repair orders include language that protects the repairer from paying damages even when they are negligent and cause damage to your property. Signing an agreement with this type of language may waive your rights to collect for damage the repairer would have otherwise been obligated to pay if they are negligent and cause damage. For example, if a yard worker runs a fork truck into your boat, catches your boat on fire while shrink wrapping it or covers your boat in overspray – you may have limited your ability to collect for the damage to your boat from the legally responsible party.
Okay, I will just report this to my insurance company right? You can report it, but you may not have coverage. In order to keep insurance premiums low insurers attempt to recover their payment from the responsible party once they have paid their insured for the cost to repair the damage. In insurance terms, this is called subrogation. Most policies state that if you give up your rights to collect from the responsible party, coverage the insurer would otherwise provide is void. These provisions are important and keep premiums from increasing.
Chances are, your boat needs to be hauled soon. Ask questions of your repairer and ask them for a copy of the front and back of the repair order. If you do not understand all the legal jargon ask questions and have an attorney review it. If the repair order contains language that protects them from paying damages when they are negligent, ask your repairer to remove the language. If they will not, you may wish to search for a repair yard that does not attempt to transfer their risk to you, the boat owner. After all, you are not in a position to control their operations, hire or train their employees or enforce their safety procedures. If you do not think that this is right, voice your concern!
If you prefer to work with a yard that will not accept responsibility for damages they cause, Markel offers an endorsement that you can purchase for an additional charge that will provide coverage while your boat is in a repair yard even when you waive the rights to recover from the yard. If your boat is slated for work, before you sign a repair order with language that waives your rights to collect from the boat yard, call your agent. They will need to know the repair yard, the scope of work to be completed, the duration of time the boat will be in the yard and the estimated repair cost. Once the endorsement is added and the additional premium is paid, you can sign the repair order and the work can commence.
Managing Director - Marine
The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.