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Carfax for boats? Florida passes titling law

Boat insurers warn consumers how to determine a storm-damaged boat.

Boat insurers warn consumers how to determine a storm-damaged boat.

Florida passed legislation today that would make it easier for consumers to determine if they are purchasing damaged or destroyed boats — something advocates see as critical in a state that has seem millions of boats damaged in recent hurricanes.

The state follows Georgia in passing the legislation, and Alabama has a similar pending passage, National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich told Trade Only Today.

Strong titling laws provide critical protections to the entire boating community, including consumers, dealers, and manufacturers, the NMMA said.

The group called Florida’s passage of the Uniform Certification of Title Act “a major victory” for the state’s recreational boating community, saying it was a common-sense, pro-consumer measure that will provide critical protection for boaters and small businesses, alike.

“The consumer benefits from boat titles are clear and incontrovertible,” said NMMA state government affairs vice president David Dickerson in a statement. “Just like Carfax identifies if a car has been in an accident and who the rightful owner is, the improvements to titles created by this legislation add significant consumer protection, helping boaters avoid unwittingly purchasing a stolen or previously damaged vessel.”

Titles also create more confidence in the marketplace, which leads to more reasonable financing options for boat owners, said Dickerson.

“Plus, this legislation helps protect all dealers — including the small, family-owned businesses — from being saddled with an unsellable craft,” said Dickerson.

The risk of buying a storm-damaged boat is something that the Boat Owners Association of the United States warns consumers about.

“Some storm-damaged boats will be properly repaired, but many more will be patched up just enough to sell, leaving the new owner with what could end up being an unusable boat,” said one BoatUS bulletin to members before offering eight tips to determine a boat’s history.

Some of those tips include looking for recent hull repairs, corrosion in the electrical systems, and fresh paint on the engines. 

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