Florida parasailing operators are now required to have up to $2 million in liability coverage under a new law that took effect Oct. 1.
The White-Miskell Act regulates the state’s estimated 100 commercial parasailing operators that offer thrill seekers the opportunity to soar above the state’s coastline while suspended under parachutes.
The bill is named after Kathleen Miskell who died in 2012 after her parasail harness broke and she fell 200 feet into the Atlantic Ocean. It also memorializes Amber White and her sister who lost their lives died in 2007 when their parasail rope broke.
Under the new regulations, the owner and/or operator of a parasailing vessel must maintain a bodily injury liability policy of at least $1 million per occurrence for an annual aggregate amount of $2 million.
The operators are required to have proof of insurance from a state-licensed insurer or eligible surplus lines carrier available at all times. Customers who request the information must be provided with the insurer’s name, address and insurance policy number.
Owners or operators of a parasailing vessel must also maintain a valid license issued by the United States Coast Guard authorizing them to transport paying customers.
In addition to those requirements, the new law requires parasailing firms to monitor weather conditions and cease operates in certain situations.
Under the new regulations, a parasailing vessel must be equipped with a VHF marine transceiver and a separate electronic device capable of receiving National Weather Service forecasts and current weather conditions.
Parasailing is prohibited if the currently observed winds reach a sustained wind speed of more than 20 miles per hour or if wind gusts are 15 miles per hour higher than the sustained wind speed and if the wind speed during gusts exceeds more than 25 miles per hour.
Additionally, parasailing is prohibited if rain or fog results in a visibility of less than a half a mile or if lightning storms come within seven miles of the parasailing area.
Florida Senator Maria Lorts Sachs (D-Delray Beach) told reporters earlier this year that most parasailing accidents are due to fast-moving storms that catch parasailing operators and consumers unprepared.
“We all know that you can be laying on the beach and 20 minutes later a thunderstorm comes up,” said Sachs. “You don’t want to be 200 feet up when that comes up.”
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