Many Minnesota residents believe their family members are covered in the case of a boat accident under boat liability insurance. It makes sense because children and other family members who live at the same residence are covered by automobile insurance. But the same is not true of boat liability insurance. Loopholes exist that allow insurance companies to exclude family members from filing insurance claims linked to boating accidents. This can have a devastating effect on people injured in boat accidents and on their families.
The Minnesota Family Protection Act was created to close that loophole so that children and other family members who live at the residence of the boat owner are covered in the case of a catastrophic accident.
The loophole used by boat liability insurance and umbrella policies is called a “family exclusion.” This family exclusion means that the family of the boat owner—including children, spouses, and other family members who live with the boat owner—aren’t included in the insurance policy. This can lead to devastating consequences for the victim and his or her family because it means that non-medical expenses—including lost wages—aren’t covered. Unfortunately, boating accidents can result in severe injuries that might require the victim to take an extended leave from work, if he or she can return to work at all.
Members of the Republican and Democratic parties are working together to create the Minnesota Family Protection Act, to prevent this loophole from denying insurance to the people who need it. Unfortunately for families already affected by the family exclusion, the act cannot help them, but it can stop similar situations from happening in the future.
“The Minnesota Family Protection Act will fill the ‘blank space’ in our insurance laws,” said Senator Paul Anderson, R-District 44 and chief author of the bill in the Senate. “Tragic accidents on Minnesota lakes are infrequent; yet when tragedy strikes, we need to make sure that our families are protected. In Minnesota—the Land of 10,000 Lakes—there are more than 800,000 registered boats, and our families and children should be included and protected in our boat liability insurance policies.”
Since 1974, family exclusions have been outlawed from auto insurance, but they haven’t been outlawed in boat insurance. Even worse, insurance companies aren’t required to tell people their families are excluded, so many people are likely paying into their boat liability insurance not realizing that it doesn’t cover everyone they expect it to.
Courtney Godfrey is one of the unlucky people who was seriously injured in a boating accident. In September 2017, while she was on her husband’s boat on Christmas Lake, Godfrey fell in the water and her foot was severed by the boat’s propeller. In the hospital later, Godfrey learned that she’d lose most of her lower leg. Because of the family exclusion, Godfrey was not covered under the boat liability insurance and umbrella policies.
“I have already been impacted by this loophole and unfair exclusion,” said Godfrey. “I want to ensure that no other Minnesota family has to find out the hard way that the coverage they faithfully paid for over years and years doesn’t actually protect the people who are on their boat the most—their families.”
Given Minnesota’s many beautiful lakes, it makes sense that so many Minnesotans would own boats. That means, though, that there is a risk of boating accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boat accident, contact a boating accident lawyer at Patterson Dahlberg. We can help determine who is responsible for your injuries and hold those responsible parties accountable. To find out more about how we can help you, call us for a free consultation at 507-404-3000 or fill out a contact form.