West Virginia offers residents and visitors beautiful rivers and lakes. These special amenities make riding personal watercraft (PWC) one of the most popular pastimes in the Mountain State. Before taking your PWC on the water, be sure you have protection from accidents and injuries by carrying PWC insurance. Finding quotes for a policy is easy, but knowing what to look for is key.
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You May Be Required to Have PWC Insurance
No state, including West Virginia, requires pleasure boaters to have PWC insurance. However, protecting it from damage due to accidents ensures your watercraft will be back on the lake after a collision. Also, if your PWC is involved in an accident while you or a friend is operating it, you could be liable for any injuries that result. Protecting your personal finances from litigation is a good idea due to the dangerous nature of some PWCs.
WV does require watercraft of certain sizes and all those with motorized engines to be registered. Contact the West Virginia DMV to find out if your specific PWC requires registration and licensing.
No person born on or after December 31, 1986, may operate a motorboat or personal watercraft on any West Virginia waters without first having obtained a certificate of boating safety education from West Virginia or any other state.
Is Your Watercraft a PWC?
West Virginia considers several watercraft to be PWCs. PWC stands for "personal watercraft" with an emphasis on the "personal." Trade name craft such as Ski-Doo (Bombardier Recreational Products), WaveRunner (Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA), and Jet Ski (Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA) are types of PWC.
Personal watercraft are defined as motorboats less than 16 feet in length that are powered by jet pumps, not propellers, where the operators stand up, kneel or sit on the boat, rather than inside the boat. A PWC has one operator and often has seating space for others. Four person PWCs allow for one operator and three riders.
What Are Some Safety Tips for PWC Operation?
According to West Virginia laws, PWC operators and riders must follow these guidelines:
- Anyone over 16 years old may operate a PWC and operators aged 12 to 15 must have an adult (18 and over) on board. It is illegal for youth younger than 12 years of age to operate a PWC.
- Each person on a PWC must wear a Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device. Additionally, the operator must wear a lanyard-type cut-off switch provided by the manufacturer that will shut off the PWC should the operator fall off.
- The operator of a PWC should operate in a reasonable and prudent manner. This includes being aware of other boats in the operating area, being aware of the environment and respecting the rights of shoreline property owners. The PWC operator should not follow other boats closely and should not jump the wake of other boats.
- Operators may not operate PWCs between the hours of sunset and sunrise.
Which PWCs Are the Most Dangerous?
PWCs are a great deal of fun because of their maneuverability and power. It is for these same reasons that PWCs can be dangerous if not operated responsibly. The number of 2003 boating accidents in West Virginia shows that although PWCs comprise just over 10 percent of all registered boats, they were involved in more than 20 percent of all boating accidents.
According to the Coast Guard, the number one cause of injury or death in PWC accidents was operator inattention.
Jet Ski-type watercraft are involved in the majority of PWC crashes. The tricks these machines allow the operator to perform often put these PWCs at higher risk of collision. However, the sit-down position of the operator makes them slightly more stable than the stand-up type models of PWC, which pose a higher risk of the operator falling off.
What Does West Virginia PWC Insurance Cover?
When you purchase a PWC insurance policy from a West Virginia company, the most important part that's covered is you. A watercraft insurance policy typically insures you against many common liability losses regardless of whether you operate it yourself or loan it to another person. In situations like these, you may have coverage for the following:
- Damage to another craft or dock
- Bodily injury or death to another person due to your negligence
- The negligence of another driver while using your PWC
- Towed water skiers or wake boarders who become injured using your craft
- Physical damage to the hull, machinery and equipment
- Injury to you caused by an uninsured watercraft operator
- Towing assistance if you break down on the water
How Much Will a PWC Insurance Quote Be?
Due to the popularity of PWCs in West Virginia and the diversity in the models offered, it is impossible to calculate the average cost for insurance quotes. The cost of your policy will depend on a variety of factors:
- The location of the PWC
- Your experience as an operator of the PWC
- The size and type of PWC
- How often and how you use the PWC
Generally, riding in coastal areas will cost more in insurance premiums than riding in inland areas. And riding in areas subject to hurricanes will cost more due to increased deductibles. Having an acceptable driving record can also keep your insurance cost down. Purchase a PWC that you have some experience operating. Some West Virginia insurance companies will also offer you a discount on your premium for completing watercraft safety courses.
Start Saving on PWC Insurance
Whether you ride the waves at Tygart, Summersville or Bluestone Lake, insuring your PWC against damage or injury is quick and easy when you contact a knowledgeable Trusted Choice® agent. These independent insurance representatives can find affordable quotes for the perfect insurance policy to fit your watercraft needs. Contact an agent and hit the water knowing you have the protection you need.