Looking to buy a used boat? Read this first!

NICB's VINCheck is a free service provided to the public to assist in determining if a used car has an unfavorable past. Based on the VIN number, with our search, a potential buyer can see if a vehicle has been reported as stolen (but not recovered), or has been reported as a salvage vehicle by a cooperating NICB member insurance company. This helps those in the market for a used vehicle determine if they are getting a great car, or a lemon.

Boats on Water

Similar to shopping for a used vehicle, a used boat is often a more affordable and practical option. But, like used vehicles, some used boats have a less than favorable history. A boat’s history could include incidence of theft, accident, damage, flooding, fire, hurricanes… any event that could lead to issues with safety or longevity, or could jeopardize the integrity of the boat.

Recently in Florida, the “Carfax for Boats” law was passed, and will go into effect in July of 2023. This law is officially called the Uniform Certificate of Title for Vessels Act (UCOTVA). The law gives protection for consumers interested in purchasing a boat. The UCOTVA (not just in Florida) protects consumers from buying boats with previous damage, offers greater lending security, and provides clear ownership records, ultimately helping consumers make more informed decisions when purchasing used boats.

NICB spoke with Caroline Mantel of Boat History Report about the recently passed law.

What is “Carfax for Boats”? What will it do and how will it help boat owners?  “The recent Uniform Certificate of Title for Vessels Act (UCOTVA) that was dubbed the "Carfax for Boats Law" is a law that requires hull-damaged vessels to be branded as such on a title.  This is one step in the right direction towards creating greater transparency in the marine industry.  It is very much a common misconception by both boat owners and boat sellers (dealers/brokers) that a clean title for a boat means it’s actually a clean title.  A clean title for a boat doesn't mean much as there are only 5 states that have adopted UCOTVA. All other states only issue clean titles for boats, even if there is nothing left of the boat to title!”

Why and how was Boat History Report involved with the UCOTVA? “Consumer safety is critical to the boating industry and Boat History Report (BHR) felt that there was no reason that the same laws put in place to protect car buyers shouldn't be in place to protect boat buyers.  BHR was able to provide examples of boats being sold to unsuspecting buyers that have undisclosed negative histories. We were also able to provide stats on how many currently-registered boats have hull damaged histories that, under the new law, will be disclosed in the future.”

Are there locations that are more problematic than others for boat owners? “Yes! For example, in Florida, 1 in 29 actively (currently) registered boats has some sort of negative event in its history.  In Miami Dade County, that number is 1 in 12. In Orlando, that number is 1 in 34. South Florida in general is higher than the state average with 1 in 20 in Palm Beach County, and 1 in 15 in the Keys.”

You can follow the status of the law, as well as see the most recent final version here:  http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00475

Background of BoatHistoryReport.com
BoatHistoryReport.com was founded in 2005 when Grant Brooks, studying to get his Masters in Marine Affairs and Policy at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, was looking to purchase a used boat.  He realized at that time that it was very difficult and sometimes impossible to find the complete history of used boats on the market.  Thus, BoatHistoryReport.com, a nationally recognized company, started in South Florida almost 14 years ago, and has been coined the "Carfax for Boats" ever since! Start your search now - https://boathistoryreport.com/

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422) or submitting a form on our website.

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: Headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to combatting and preventing insurance crime through Intelligence, Analytics, and Operations; Education and Crime Prevention; and Strategy, Policy, and Advocacy. The NICB is supported by more than 1,200 property-casualty insurers, self-insureds, rental car, vehicle finance, and auto auctions. To learn more, visit www.nicb.org.