Many Duck Boats No Longer Operating Because of Insurance, Says Attorney

Premiums have become much higher for duck boat companies because of last year’s incident.

INDIANAPOLIS–Duck boats aren’t banned by law, but the sinking of the boat on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, one year ago brought so much attention to the dangers of riding in them that insurance comp0anies have raised their premiums. That has effectively put many of them out of business.

“The insurance for duck boats, thankfully, has dried up in the past year and there are multiple locations that have stopped operating because they haven’t been able to get insurance,” said Bob Mongeluzzi, with Salz, Mongeluzzi and Bendesky, a firm in Philadelphia.

Mongeluzzi has been involved in lawsuits and other efforts to try to have duck boats banned for several years.

“Those insurance premiums have skyrocketed because duck boats are death traps and those insurance companies are finally waking up and saying, we won’t insure them any more,” he said.

He believes the incident last year, in which nine members of the Coleman family from Indianapolis drowned, along with eight others, was the wake up call. However, an effort in Congress to actually outlaw the boats has stalled, said the attorney.

“Because of their canopies if a boat sinks, if you have your life preserver on, it pulls you up into the canopy you can’t get out and if you don’t have your life preserver on, as tons of water pour in you can’t get out until it’s already down 50 or 60 ft., and then you don’t have the buoyancy to get you to the top,” said Mangeluzzi.

He called duck boats death traps and coffins, after describing the senario in which 17 people drowned last year. Mongeluzzi also pointed out that the duck boat industry as a whole has ignored safety recommendations, including getting rid of the canopies, for more than ten years.

Several indictments have also been handed down, including an indictment of the captain.

Two managers for Ripley Entertainment and Ride the Ducks were indicted three weeks ago by a grand jury in Missouri.

“Ripley’s had assigned the person that was supposed to be monitoring the weather to count up their cash receipts. That was another devastating blow to this family,” said Mongeluzzi. The boat sank in a severe thunderstorm, while a warning was in progress.

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