Do you need a special license to drive a boat in Washington cover

Do you need a special license to drive a boat in Washington?

Are you thinking of buying a boat in Washington State so you can enjoy the waters of Lake Union, Lake Washington, Lake Roosevelt or the Puget Sound? Boating is an extremely popular hobby in the state, but what many don’t know is that most recreational boaters in Washington must complete a boater safety course. Let’s take a look at what’s required of recreational boaters and whether or not you need boat insurance from Boyd Insurance Brokerage.

Boater Educational Requirements

The state of Washington requires most boaters to have and carry a boater education card.

Who Needs a Boater Education Card

Individuals who are 12 years of age or older, born after January 1, 1955 and who operate vessels with 15 horsepower or greater must have and carry a boater education card.

Who Does Not Need a Boater Education Card

Individuals do not need a boater education card if they were born before January 1, 1955, or if the individual holds a valid commercial boating license and operates a commercial fishing boat. You also don’t need a boater education card if:

  • You have a valid US Coastguard Marine Operator License.
  • You have successfully completed a watercraft safety checklist and have been issued a temporary boater education card by the vendor who is renting you a boat.
  • You are employed and operated government watercraft vessels that are exempt from state boat registration.
  • You are in Washington to participate in a permitted racing event and the permit information is available for an inspection.

Who Qualifies for a 60-Day Boater Education Exemption Period?

Some boaters are granted a 60-day exemption from the boater education requirement. This may apply to you if:

  • You are not a resident of Washington and are visiting from another state, and you will not be boating for more than 60 days. If you do happen to boat for longer than 60 days, you will need to get a boater education card.
  • You have a boater education card from another state. It’s important to note that holders of boater education cards from other states will need to contact Washington State Parks in order to determine if the out-of-state education card is valid.
  • You have recently purchased a boat and have a bill of sale that includes the date of the boat purchase. It’s important to note that you must obtain a boater education card after 60 days from the date of the purchase of the boat.

How to Get a Boater Education Card in Washington

The state of Washington provides boaters with several ways to get their education card, including:

  • Participating in a hands-on training course.
  • Taking a study course at home.
  • Taking an approved online course.
  • Taking an equivalency exam if you’re already an experienced boater and know a lot about boating safety and navigation.
  • Taking classroom courses.

It’s important to note that after you complete your boater education safety course, you’ll need to fill out and submit a Boater Education Card Application with your course completion records and a fee, which is $10 as of 2023. Once you have your boaters education card, you are legally allowed to operate a boat in Washington and Canadian waters.

Boating Insurance in Washington

If you own a boat in Washington, it’s important to make sure that you have insurance for that boat. The Office of the Insurance Commissioner in Washington State states that small boats may be covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy. However, this usually results in coverage of $1,500 or less for physical damage. When it comes to liability insurance, it could be limited to the size of your boat and its horsepower. When trying to determine if your boat has insurance via your homeowner’s policy, it’s important to contact your insurance agent.

For larger boats and personal watercraft, you’ll likely need to purchase a boat insurance policy. Boating insurance policies typically include:

  • Property Damage – Covers damage to docks, other boats and marinas
  • Liability coverage – Helps pay for any injuries that are the result of a boating accident. This can include other boaters in other boats as well as passengers and visitors on the other boat.
  • Wreckage Removal – Helps pay for the costs associated with removing your boat from the water if it happens to sink.
  • Fuel Spill Cleanup – If fuel leaks out of your boat, it must be cleaned up, according to the law. This coverage helps pay for the cleanup.
  • Watersport Coverage – Helps pay for any injuries that are related to participating in watersports, like tubing and waterskiing.

Boaters Insurance from Boyd Insurance Brokerage

Are you thinking about getting a boat in Washington State or do you already have a boat and need affordable coverage? Our agents at Boyd Insurance Brokerage can listen to your needs for boat insurance and recommend the right coverage at an affordable price.

To get a quote for boaters insurance, give us a call today at (509) 340-2693. We’d be happy to speak with you.


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