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 facility?


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 salvage?


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 determine that?


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 friend’s boat?


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

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