Embarking on a boating adventure along the picturesque waters of Florida’s coastline is a dream come true for many. However, the recent enactment of Senate Bill 606, known as the “Boating Safety Act of 2022,” has brought about significant changes for bareboat charter companies operating in the state.
One crucial aspect of this legislation revolves around insurance requirements, mandating that these companies obtain and carry policies that protect both their operations and the renters. This post will provide some guidance for bareboat charter companies as they navigate the waters of compliance in Florida’s boating industry.
Definition of “Livery”
A “livery” is a person or entity that offers a vessel for use by another in exchange for any form of consideration without providing a captain, crew, or any operational staff. Consequently, bareboat charters fall under this definition since the renters or lessees typically hire their own crew or operate the vessel themselves.
The term “Bareboat” is not defined or used in Florida Statutes, a person (i.e., owner, agent, firm, broker) is not a livery if the renter is provided a specific captain and crew at the time of rental/lease contractual agreement. Regardless of whether there are multiple individuals to choose from on the contractual agreement, if it’s actually a crew-provided rental, this is not a livery as you are conducting passenger-for-hire operations which is exempted from livery regulations.
When a renter or lessee hires their own captain and crew or operates the vessel themselves, as in a valid bareboat charter, the owner, agent firm, etc., is a livery and must comply with livery regulations. This would include if the owner, agent, firm etc., provides a list for referral of master and crew as required by bareboat charter requirements, to which the renter can choose from the list or hire their own credentialed master and crew. Plainly put, bareboat charters are considered a livery by the State of Florida definition.
Requirements for Livery
To comply with Florida’s regulations, bareboat charter companies must fulfill several requirements. These include providing the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) with a list of available vessels for rent, proof of insurance coverage, and necessary business licenses or tax receipts. Additionally, the completion of a Livery Permit Certification Form is mandatory.
FWC will need a list of the vessels available for rent, proof of insurance coverage in accordance with FS 327.54, local business license or tax receipt if applicable, business creation records (such as Articles of Incorporation, state records, Sunbiz.org, etc.) if the permit is issued to a business, a copy of a government-issued photo identification card if the permit is issued to an individual (not applicable here), and a completed Livery Permit Certification Form.
Any individual delivering pre-rental instructions must have completed a Florida boating safety education course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). Proof of completion should be maintained at the rental or business location. FWC provides an approved pre-rental instruction form for convenience.
Boating Safety Education Course
Renters born on or after January 1, 1988, who wish to rent a vessel with 10 horsepower or greater, must possess certification of completion of an approved boating safety education course. However, certain exemptions exist, such as being a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed master or being accompanied by a person over 18 years old with the necessary Boating Safety Education Identification Card.
Safety Instruction Signage
Liveries are required to display boating safety information signs visible to the public. The sign should be no smaller than 187 square inches and correspond to the types of vessels the livery rents. FWC can provide pre-printed signs to assist in compliance.
Liveries are now obligated to report any accidents or unnecessarily overdue rentals to the FWC. The term “unnecessarily” is subjective but likely employs a reasonableness metric, with rentals exceeding 8-12 hours deemed unnecessarily overdue.
While the implementation of Senate Bill 606 brings about additional pre-ride instructions, these are typically covered by the charter’s captain. Each passenger must acknowledge receiving the pre-ride instructions, while employees should also acknowledge providing them.
Comprehending the insurance requirements for bareboat charter companies is crucial for their successful operation within the framework of Florida’s boating regulations. Adhering to these guidelines will foster compliance and contribute to a safe and enjoyable experience for renters. By navigating the complexities of insurance obligations, bareboat charter companies can confidently set sail on the path to success.