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The Time is Now to Modernize an Archaic Boat-Rental Industry

Rental facilities that leverage technology to enhance operations will win both with insurers and customers.

Over the past couple of years, we saw a huge surge in demand for boat rentals and other outdoor water activities. During the pandemic, people itched to get out of their homes and head for the nearest beach or lake.

With this spike in demand came a very logical surge in accidents and deaths related to boating with boating accidents increasing about 25% between 2021 and 2022. Rental facilities were not immune to the fallout.

Insurance businesses that cater to the watercraft rental space reacted. When we dug into the issue, we realized a few things that were causing pain for the industry.

For instance, according to the hold harmless/waiver that rental facilities ask their customers to sign, the company must be shown to be negligent in order to be found liable for what happens on the water. Ongoing conversations with rental businesses and insurance-carrier partners revealed that this form reflected an archaic process that often left rental facilities exposed should an incident occur.

Nine times out of ten, a rental business is relying on a seasonal worker who is between the ages of 16 and 22 to facilitate core processes that are critical to prove non-negligence in a potential claim. These processes include:

  • Gathering signatures on all relevant documents;
  • Identity validation and age check;
  • Providing waterway navigation and maps;
  • Equipment checks;
  • Safety briefings;
  • Monitoring GPS solutions;
  • Incident reporting;
  • 24/7 Customer Success;
  • And much, much more…

One slip up by these employees could leave the business completely exposed. Consider that running a busy dock on July Fourth is an incredibly difficult task. Add the complexity of managing the operation via stacks of paperwork, human error and multiple systems? This can make the work nearly impossible.

With the rising demand across industries for quick, easy and fast service, it is becoming necessary for boat rental facilities to be efficient and thorough. Serious businesses can’t take shortcuts in operations and also must to sensitive to their customers’ time.

Rental facilities that leverage technology to enhance operations will win both with access to competitive insurance programs as well as satisfied customers.

The rental industry has historically lagged in technological advancement, but the time is now to adapt or be left behind. The old days of stacks of paperwork and loose ends will not be tolerated, especially with related regulation that is beginning to be implemented across the U.S. It’s the companies who are the pioneers and get ahead of the change that will be in the strongest position to succeed.


Cam Serigne is CEO and founder of vQuip, a digital platform for managing specialty risks. vQuip’s solution in a full-proof operating system that can mitigate the variable of human error while improving the customer experience.

These opinions are the author’s own.