Q: Is Vessel Assist part of the BoatUS Insurance company?
A: BoatUS provides assistance and
towing services using Vessel Assist as it’s primary tow contractor on the West
Coast of the US and Canada. TowBoat US
is the primary contractor for the East Coast Great Lakes and Gulf States. Assistance and towing services
include 24-hour dispatch, on-the-water towing, battery jumps, fuel deliveries
and soft ungroundings up to a member’s specified service level. Combined, they
form the Nation’s largest network of towing companies to provide you with fast,
professional assistance while you are on the water.
Q: How much will it cost to have my boat towed?
A: Commercial towing companies
charge non-members over $200 per hour to tow your vessel and may charge
additional fees for weather and up to $12 per foot of your boat’s length for
soft ungroundings. Per hour charges are always portal to portal, that is the
time it takes the tower to arrive, service your vessel and return to their
homeport. The average towing bill in 2005 cost non-members over $600 and soft
ungroundings over $800.
Q: Will my BoatUS/Vessel Assist membership provide for all
the hourly towing and per-foot soft ungrounding charges?
A: Yes, if you choose the Unlimited level. BoatUS/Vessel
Assist Towing Services will pay up to your membership service level at the time
of breakdown for services as listed in the BoatUS On-Water Towing Service
agreement (See Coverage link). Any additional costs, not provided for under
your towing service agreement and those costs, which exceed your service level,
will be the boat owner’s responsibility.
Q: If I’m broken down at my homeport dock, does my
BoatUS/Vessel Assist towing service cover the costs to tow my boat to a repair
A: Your membership towing benefits
cover your costs when stranded in the open water or at a restricted use dock.
In addition, if your boat will not start while you are moored at your home dock
or non-restricted use slip, partial payment may be available to you. By
arranging for the tow through normal channels, calling our 24-Hour West Coast
Dispatch Center or contacting an Vessel Assist directly, BoatUS will provide
50% of the towing charge incurred to the facility, up to your current towing
service level at the time of breakdown. The program does not provide for
conditions that pre-date your BoatUS Membership or Towing Service.
Q: What is the difference between Towing and Salvage?
A: BoatUS establishes
towing/ungrounding as “any operation not involving imminent peril to the boat
or a legally protected marine environment.” Salvage includes “any operation
involving imminent peril to the grounded boat, the marine environment, or the
use of special salvage equipment (pumps, airbags, dredging equipment, cranes,
etc.)” For more information about the difference between towing and salvage,
please contact the Vessel Assist operator nearest you or our 24-Hour West Coast
Dispatch Center at (800) 367-8222 or (800) For VAAA.
Q: How do I know whether the job will require towing or
A: Before accepting service from any towing company,
ask if the charges will be paid by BoatUS up to your service level. If you are
told that the service is salvage and it should be provided by your boat
insurance policy, this is most likely salvage and you may decline services.
Don’t hesitate to ask about all the services before they are performed and how
all charges will be paid and who will be paying them. Though your BoatUS
membership does not provide for salvage costs under the Towing Service
Agreement, Vessel Assist Seattle is fully equipped with trained personnel able
to provide salvage services at competitive
rates. Check your boat owners insurance policy to see what salvage costs may be
provided in the event that your boat sinks or is taking on water or lands hard
aground requiring special recovery equipment.
Q: What is the best towing service level for me and how do I
A: If you are a frequent boater and
do a lot of traveling, we recommend an Unlimited Captain’s or Gold Card, which
provides you with our optimum service level (See Coverage link). For our
members who trailer their boats, we also have Trailer Assist available when you
sign-up for this option at the time of selecting your specified service level.
Q: Should I need towing service, how do I contact BoatUS or
Vessel Assist for assistance?
A: You may hail Vessel Assist
directly on VHF CH 16 or call our 24-Hour West Coast Dispatch Center at (800)
367-8222 / (800) For VAAA or hail the US Coast Guard and request they contact
Vessel Assist. The USCG will contact Vessel Assist on your behalf. All towing
services must be provided by an approved BoatUS Towing Company, unless
authorized by the BoatUS 24-Hour dispatch Center. In case of emergency, the
United States Coast Guard should always be contacted first.
Q: My BoatUS Membership Card indicates a $50 (any dollar
amt.) on-the-water towing. Is this dollar amount my deductible?
A: No, there is no deductible on
BoatUS/Vessel Assist Towing. The dollar amount indicated on your membership
card is the amount that BoatUS will pay per incident for commercial towing service.
All other charges are the boater’s responsibility. That’s why we recommend
higher option towing packages like the Unlimited Captain’s or Gold Card
Services (See Coverage link).
Q: Can I use some other towing company to tow my boat?
A: Yes, only when a Vessel Assist
Tower is unavailable or
out of your area and if the other tow company is dispatched through the BoatUS
24-Hour Dispatch Center. BoatUS has a fleet of over 500 towboats nationwide
contracted and ready to go. When you call the West Coast Dispatch
Center, you will receive
assistance from the closest available approved company. If there isn’t one in
your area, the dispatcher will help you locate other assistance.
Q: Does BoatUS Towing Service apply if I am a guest on a
A: No, the coverage applies for any
recreational boat the member owns, borrows or charters. In these cases, the
member is responsible for the care and control of the boat. If the member is a
guest on the boat and the owner is also present, regardless of who is at the
helm, the owner would be responsible for the cost of the tow. Your membership
does provide for all family members using your boat.
Q: I am a licensed Captain and use my boat for charter
purposes and sometimes deliver boats for dealers. Can I use my towing service
for that boat I am operating commercially?
A: The BoatUS Towing Service
applies only to a “recreational boat owned, borrowed or chartered” by the
member. Once a boat is used for hire, for commercial purposes or if the member
acts as a paid Captain, the boat or member is considered commercial. In these
cases, the appropriate commercial towing service should be purchased.
Q: Is it true that towing companies bill from the time they
leave their dock to the time they return?
A: Yes. Towing companies begin
charging for their service from the moment they get underway. Once you are safe
and sound in your own slip, the clock is still ticking until the towboat has
returned to its home dock. Please remember to take that into consideration when
selecting your towing service level.
Q: If my prop gets caught in a net,
does my membership cover prop-disentanglement?
A: Yes. Costs are covered up to a
member’s specified service level.
Q: If I have other questions about Towing, Salvage or other
available benefits from my BoatUS/Vessel Assist Membership that are not
answered on this FAQ’s page, who may I contact within your organization?
A: Please call Chris Conti of
Vessel Assist Seattle/Tacoma/Olympia for any additional help or information on
member services, sign-ups or renewals. Captain Chris Conti can be reached at
(253) 312-2927 or