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New bill would require all boaters to purchase insurance for their vessels

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Courtesy: Hawaii DLNR Courtesy: Hawaii DLNR

Anyone who owns a boat would need to start paying insurance for it if a certain bill at the state capitol becomes law.

For most boat owners at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor, getting insurance is about protecting their investment. 

"It's very important, I mean if something should occur, and accidents can occur, vessels sink, and we wouldn't want to be liable for that," said boat over, Robert Scheetz. 

Another boat owner, Clarence Booth adds, "It happens from time to time, and it should be just like your car, you have insurance."  

The boat owners we spoke with each have plans that give them at least half-a-million dollars in coverage-- when you dock at state harbors, it's a requirement. 

"Many boat owners who have their boats on their racks, or they park them on the streets, or at their storage facilities, they may not have insurance," said Senator Will Espero. 

Espero is sponsoring a bill that would require all boat owners to get covered, no matter where they store their vessel.
 

"You can get super coverage on your vehicle or you can get minimal coverage and I'm hoping it will be the same with boats as well," Espero adds.  

The bill passed Ways and Means and the Committee on Water and Land Friday.

According to the legislation, the state has spent more than $2,000,000 to address grounded and abandoned vessels over the past 15-years.

The boat owners we spoke with said-- they don't think the state should foot the bill for uninsured boats. 

While some hope the bill stays alive, others want it dead.

Those who oppose paying for insurance on their boats say it's unfair to Mandate such coverage especially on smaller motorboats.  Some believe the bill targets Lower income families.
    

Meanwhile the Department of Land and Natural Resources strongly supports the measure.

It cites states such as Arkansas and Utah that require at least $50,000 of liability coverage for vessels.
 

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