Boating Collision Highlights Issues Involving Realtors and Accidents

We have a short but vibrant boating season in the PNW.  Boating is fun and brings families and friends together.  But it can also lead to serious accidents—especially when mixed with alcohol.

According to the Seattle Times:

A Renton real-estate agent has been booked into the King County Jail for investigation of homicide in connection with the death of a beloved schoolteacher on Lake Washington on Wednesday.

A couple of thoughts about this accident (and similar accidents):

Not everyone is allowed to run a boat.  A 2005 law requires operators to take a boater safety education course before operating a boat in Washington. The law applies to operators of motorboats with 15 horsepower or more.  Based on the description of the accident it make you wonder whether the realtor had taken a boater safety course.  Hopefully he had a (large) liability policy for his boat.

Every time I see a news story about a realtor causing an accident (and it’s usually an auto accident) I think:

  1. Can the brokerage be held responsible?  Most relators are characterized as independent contractors.  But there are some situations where the brokerage can be held responsible for the negligence of individual realtors.
  2. Did the realtor pay extra for business use coverage?  Using a vehicle to drive around to different places of business during the day (not delivering property or people), going on sales calls, or showing real estate, triggers a higher “business” rate use on personal auto policies.  If there is business  advertising on the vehicle, the vehicle is registered as a commercial vehicle, or is registered in the name of a business, a separate business policy is probably necessary.  If a realtor doesn’t pay extra, or purchase a business policy, there may be no coverage in the event of an accident.
There are additional layers of complexity (and opportunity) if you’re involved in an accident with a realtor.  We’re happy to guide you through the process.

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