Safety push for tougher jet ski insurance, licensing rules

30 November 2020
A leading public safety advocate says it should be mandatory for Victorian jet ski riders to take out third-party insurance so they can cover the medical bills of people they injure.

Dimi Ioannou, a public safety lawyer at Maurice Blackburn, also believes practical testing should be introduced as part of personal watercraft licensing requirements.

“As the use of jet skis grows in popularity, we need to remember these are powerful machines that can be very dangerous in the wrong hands,” Ms Ioannou said.

“We believe all jet ski operators should be required to have third-party insurance to pay for the medical costs if they injure someone else in the water.”

“Without third-party insurance cover, people injured by a jet ski can be left hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket.”

Ms Ioannou also called for practical testing to be included in licensing requirements, as recommended by a 2014 parliamentary inquiry into marine safety.

The inquiry found that Victoria was the only Australian state without a practical assessment in its recreational licensing process.

“Jet skis can weigh hundreds of kilograms and travel as fast as cars. But to add a personal watercraft endorsement to a marine licence, all that’s involved is a multiple choice test.”

Ms Ioannou said jet skis were a great way to enjoy Victoria’s coast, but when used unsafely, the consequences could be devastating.

“I’m currently representing a young man who was seriously injured when the jet ski he was a passenger on collided with another jet ski following a dangerous wake jump.

“Our client was a young man who had just finished high school and was about to start an exciting new chapter of life at university.

“Instead, the jet ski collision left him with serious injuries, including a broken kneecap and leg bone, forced him to defer his studies and limited his ability to find work.”

Jet ski use in Victoria has soared over the past decade, with personal watercraft registrations doubling from 10,000 in 2008-09, to more than 23,000 in 2018/19.

A 2017 Monash University report on Victorian maritime injury statistics found that powered watercraft such as jet skis were the most common vessel involved in injuries that resulted in hospital admission.

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