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Closet Powerboater
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since I've had poor luck so far with the new boat, and mainly because we will have a newly rebuilt engine, I feel it may be prudent to get tow insurance for the next year or so. Personally, I'm the kind of guy who would rather swim than get a tow, but still, with a newly rebuilt engine I'm looking into it.

I know Boat US has their $20 special which "includes towing" but if you read the fine print it's not actually a real tow policy. Anyone able to recommend a tow insurance policy? Questions I should ask or coverages I need to make sure are included?

MedSailor
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Closet Powerboater
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3,925 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
+1 on TowboatUS. Best deal on the water. Unlimited Gold is the way to go unless you have a commercial application.
Yeah, that looks pretty good. Anything I need to know about actually using the service? Do you call BoatUS when you need it, like one calls AAA when your care breaks down? I'd like to avoid salvage traps.

MedSailor
 

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Yeah, that looks pretty good. Anything I need to know about actually using the service? Do you call BoatUS when you need it, like one calls AAA when your care breaks down? I'd like to avoid salvage traps.

MedSailor
Yes, they have a toll free number or you call them on your VHF radio which is the better option because you get the nearest outlet immediately.
 

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I signed up for Seatow last year. We had just bought a bigger boat that had to be moved quickly, so we had a short handed, five day self delivery, to a new home, which was new to us as well, in an untested boat. I looked at Seatow and TowboatUS and came to the conclusion that the biggest and most important difference between the two was coverage. In some areas Seatow had more boats and in other areas TowboatUS had more boats. For the most part, Seatow had more locations along our intended route and definitely more locations in our new cruising ground, including one just across the harbor, so it seemed to make more sense to go with them.

If you go to the respective websites you can find the nearest locations. Of course you can’t know the number of members in the area and therefore how busy each boat might be, but I figured that more boats would probably mean a faster response and, from asking around, the local guys appeared to have a reputation for being super helpful. Not exactly scientific and I’ll never know for sure…. I don’t think you would go wrong with either.

I have the local number and the national dispatch number in my phone or you can hail them on VHF. I have also overheard the coast guard contacting them on behalf of someone who needed assistance.
 

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Boat U.S. also has a smart phone app that, I believe, can automatically relay your membership and other information, along with your location when you need a tow.
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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5,674 Posts
Yeah, that looks pretty good. Anything I need to know about actually using the service? Do you call BoatUS when you need it, like one calls AAA when your care breaks down? I'd like to avoid salvage traps.
You call them like AAA. If the tower things it is a salvage and not a tow he will ask you to sign a salvage agreement.
 

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Closet Powerboater
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I looked at Seatow and TowboatUS and came to the conclusion that the biggest and most important difference between the two was coverage. In some areas Seatow had more boats and in other areas TowboatUS had more boats. For the most part, Seatow had more locations along our intended route and definitely more locations in our new cruising ground, including one just across the harbor, so it seemed to make more sense to go with them.
Well that sealed the deal for me. I can walk to the boat US location from my slip, and the next closest one is 10 miles away. SeaTow basically does not exist on this coast.

MedSailor
 

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Old enough to know better
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Well that sealed the deal for me. I can walk to the boat US location from my slip, and the next closest one is 10 miles away. SeaTow basically does not exist on this coast.

MedSailor
Yea sounds like Boat US is for you. for me the nearest Boat US is about 1hour away and there is a Sea Tow about 10 minutes north of me, and one 10 minutes south of me. So they have me surrounded. For me the opposite choice is the obvious one. They are very close in price so it really is all about how far there boats are from where you boat.

Yes, they have a Boat US membership and you get a discount but no tows for the $20 or $25 seems to me West Marine kind of misrepresents that offer. Oh and the local Sea Tow guys hand out really cool yellow pens, I am a sucker for a free pen!
 

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Master Mariner
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9,410 Posts
Like you, with a new boat, I figured TowBoat US was a good deal for me. Ended up needing them twice for fuel problems and it was just what the doctor ordered. Would have been thousands without.
I would still have unlimited (or any policy) if they were down here, but alas, we're on our own, out here in paradise.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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Boat US here. For less than $200 they offer a good value. I have never used their tow service (knocking on wood) but they seem to be present in most places I travel. Besides that, they are advocates for boaters in legislative issues and I am glad to see some of my premium going towards their efforts.
 

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I know the local guys pretty well here, and also am a subscriber to their service. It's a good deal, although I'm not sure they'll help you if you get locked in the sauna Med :D The local guys are very competent.

Their business model is interesting. For a soft grounding or out of fuel, or engine breakdown where no one is in peril, these policies are a bargain IMHO compared to pay as you go. However, if you talk with them, they'll tell you that your annual fee pays for gas, and they make their money on salvage. If you are in a salvage situation, they will be settling with your insurance provider, so make sure that's in place as well....although from reading here you have much more experience with insurance than me;)

Around here, Woods Hole is the honey pot. It's a regular annuity of salvage situations, at least once a week in the summer.

Good luck with that engine!
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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My understanding is that the business model of TowboatUS/Vessel Assist and SeaTow are quite different.

If I am correct TowboatUS towers get paid by BoatUS every time they serve a customer. SeaTow towers get paid based on the size of their service area and the number of subscribers within it, whether they (the tower) ever goes out or not.
 

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As a customer, I think I would prefer the Towboat business model since income is based on service. I've always wondered about "soft" groundings vs salvage. It would seem that since most of their money is derived from salvage that they would more than likely classify any grounding as salvage if at all possible. Is this a grey area?
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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As a customer, I think I would prefer the Towboat business model since income is based on service. I've always wondered about "soft" groundings vs salvage. It would seem that since most of their money is derived from salvage that they would more than likely classify any grounding as salvage if at all possible. Is this a grey area?
It's a bit of a grey area, but not very. *grin* I was involved in one case as an advocate defined as salvage that was reviewed several times at Boat/US headquarters with reporting by the President of Boat/US. Boat/US takes their reputation very seriously and was diligent in ensuring that the call in the field was appropriate.
 

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As a customer, I think I would prefer the Towboat business model since income is based on service. I've always wondered about "soft" groundings vs salvage. It would seem that since most of their money is derived from salvage that they would more than likely classify any grounding as salvage if at all possible. Is this a grey area?
Dee-

I've seen it go either way in the same location but different tow operator(s)...

What Is Salvage? - Southern Marine Towing and Salvage LLC
 
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