Beginning on January 1, 2023, Boat Rental Operators, or Liveries, in Florida have been required to obtain annual permits as well as have valid insurance for both the business operations and for their customer, the renter. This new requirement was included in the Boating Safety Act of 2022, Sponsored by Senator Ileana Garcia (Miami) and Representative Adam Botana (Bonita Springs), and passed during the Florida Legislature’s previous session in 2022. Although the bill mandates that the new regulations go into effect on January 1, 2023, the changes are not being enforced by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission for six months, or until June 1, 2023.
Besides creating the requirement for the no-cost permit, the legislation also makes changes to boater education requirements and insurance requirements for liveries, as well. The insurance aspect stands to be the most contested requirement because, during the final few days of session, additional language was added to the legislation, causing a “glitch” to be created, and requiring insurance for the renter as well as the operation.
This new legislation was put in place partially to stop illegal rental operations that are commonplace throughout Florida. These illegal rental operations put all boaters on the water at risk and this legislation was meant to create a safer overall boating environment by making changes to Temporary Certificates and by requiring the rental operations to be permitted.
The new regulations now explicitly state that the rental operator, or their employee, must also have a boating safety license and also outline what must be covered with renters during the pre-rental and pre-ride check list. These new pre-rental and pre-ride instructions are designed to minimize the number of on-water accidents. The no-cost permits for livery operators are also designed to increase safety and ensure proper business practices. In order to receive a permit, the applicant must list all of the vessels available for rent, proof of insurance, local business license and tax receipts, and more.
While the aforementioned changes will ultimately create a safer and more enjoyable boating experience for rental operators and boat owners alike in Florida, three words make the proposed legislation untenable for rental operators. In the final days of the 2022 Legislative Session, the words “…and the renter” were added to the legislation – ultimately requiring that the livery offer insurance for the renter, up to $500,000 per individual and $1,000,000 per incident. Currently, this creates an impediment for livery operators as there are limited providers of such insurance and that currently makes it too expensive for rental operators.
The addition of “and the renter” is considered by many as a “glitch,” as it was only added in the last few days of session and fundamentally changed the nature of the new regulation, changing it from something liveries were happy to implement immediately to a formidable challenge that may risk the health of their business.
Currently, Senator Garcia and Representative Botana are working on a fix and have pre-filed HB 261 which attempts to remove the “glitch” language. We are now waiting for Florida’s legislative session to begin and provide input and support for this bill as it makes it through the legislative process. If you would like to learn how to support our efforts to pass HB 261, reach out to Chad Tokowicz, MRAA’s Government Relations Manager here.
If you would like to learn more about this regulation, please see the below pages.