Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  Do I have to join BoatUS to get towing?

A:   Yes, in order to enjoy our member rates, as BoatUS is a membership organization. In addition to towing services you will be part of the world’s largest association of over half a million recreational boaters which has provided savings, services and representation on Capitol Hill for over 40 years.

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Q:   What is the BoatUS Towing Program?

A:   It is a promise by the Association to provide excellent Member satisfaction, assistance and towing services (which entails 24-Hour Dispatch, On-the-Water Towing, battery jumps, fuel deliveries, and soft ungroundings) without charge up to a Member’s specified service level. The BoatUS Towing Program provides nationwide assistance as VESSEL ASSIST in the western US and TowBoatUS in the eastern US.

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Q:  What is the difference between TowBoatUS and VESSEL ASSIST and how do I know which one I should get?

A:   Both are trademarks of BoatUS. TowBoatUS is the service provider in the eastern United States and VESSEL ASSIST provides service in the western United States. Together they form the nation’s largest network of towing companies. They are organized by BoatUS to provide you with fast, professional assistance while you’re on the water. These companies are required to meet specific criteria in order to qualify as either TowBoatUS or VESSEL ASSIST approved companies. Over 290 ports are staffed 24/7 nationwide. If you are confused as to which company services your area, please call our 24-Hour Dispatch Service Center. The representative will be able to clarify that question for you.

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Q:  What does the service level on my Membership Card mean?

 

A:   This amount represents the amount that BoatUS will pay for provided services. It is NOT a deductible. You are responsible for all charges in excess of your chosen service level.

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Q:  What does Unlimited mean?

A:  If you require service within a BoatUS Towing Service Area and are towed within that area, we will pay an “Unlimited” amount for provided services as listed in the BoatUS On-Water Towing Service Agreement . Outside this service area, services are provided up to $2,500 for the Unlimited card and up to $3,000 for the Unlimited Gold card.

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Q:  How do I know whether I need salt or freshwater Unlimited Towing?

A:   $34 Freshwater Unlimited Towing applies to all inland lakes and rivers up to the point where the water becomes “brackish” (water which includes some salt). There is no limit on the number of lakes or rivers you can boat on. If you use your boat on both Fresh and Saltwater, you’ll want to upgrade to the Saltwater option.

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Q:  Is my BoatUS Towing Service valid wherever I boat?

A:   Yes. BoatUS Towing Service follows you and your boat. No matter where your homeport is or where you keep your boat. If you’re within a TowBoatUS or VESSEL ASSIST service area, BoatUS will provide for towing service up to your selected service level. Even if you are boating in an area that does not support a TowBoatUS or VESSEL ASSIST Service Provider, BoatUS will reimburse your commercial towing service up to your service level, $2,500 for Unlimited and $3,000 for Unlimited Gold, when authorized by the BoatUS 24-hour dispatch center.

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Q:  What’s so special about BoatUS Towing Dispatch?

 

A:   The 24-hour National Dispatch Center is open and staffed all day, every day, 365 days a year with BoatUS employees to answer questions and dispatch towers. The Center can be reached by cell phone, VHF radio or via a Coast Guard relay. BoatUS has the largest recreational boat and trailer dispatch center nationwide

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Q:  Can I use another towing company to tow my boat?

A:   Yes, when outside the country and within the U.S if dispatched by BoatUS through the 24-Hour Dispatch Center. BoatUS has a fleet of over 600 tow boats contracted and ready to go. When you call the National 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.

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Q:  If I’m broken down at my dock, does my BoatUS Towing Service still work for me?

 

A:   BoatUS Towing Service is for tows due to breakdowns at sea or at a restricted use dock. In addition, if your boat will not start while you are at your home dock, rental dock, or a non-restricted use slip, partial coverage may be available to you. By setting up the tow through normal channels; calling our dispatch center or contacting a TowBoatUS or VESSEL ASSIST company directly, BoatUS will provide 50% of the towing charge incurred to the closest repair facility, up to your current towing service level (100% if you have Unlimited Gold Towing). Of course, pre-existing conditions are not provided for at all.

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Q:   When the Guide doesn’t list any BoatUS Service Provider or other approved companies in my area, whom should I use?

A:   When you contact the National Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869, the dispatcher can check to see if any approved towing companies have been added to your area since The Guide was published. If there are still no towers in your area, the dispatcher will use other resources to locate the assistance you need through local marinas or commercial towining services. Outside the country tows are reimbursed by BoatUS.

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Q:  During off season in the North (known as lay up period where most boats aren’t in use) is TowBoatUS or VESSEL ASSIST available?

A:   TowBoatUS and VESSEL ASSIST are on call 24/7 during normal boating seasons. In some areas in the Northern US, the towers may pull their boats for the off-season due to weather conditions. Our 24-Hour Dispatch Center is available year round by calling 800-391-4869. They will be able to check on the status of the companys in your area.

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Q:  What is the difference between Towing and Salvage?

A:   BoatUS establishes Towing-Ungrounding as “any operation not involving immediate peril to the boat or to a legally protected marine environment and requiring only one towing vessel with lines attached to the grounded boat to refloat it or to the disabled boat to tow it.” Salvage includes “any operation involving immediate peril to the 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 click here.

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Q:  Does the BoatUS Towing Service provide for recovery and towing of my boat should it sink?

A:   The BoatUS Towing Service provides assistance should your boat suffer from a dead battery, an engine breakdown, run out of gas, or require a “soft” ungrounding while on the water. It is not designed for salvage operations such as a sinking or stranding. Salvage operations, including towing from the salvage site, would be paid for by a yacht or boat insurance policy, such as BoatUS Marine Insurance.

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Q:   Does BoatUS Towing Service apply if I am a guest on a friend’s boat??

A:    Every BoatUS towing level provides Towing Service for any boat which the Member owns, borrows, or charters. In these cases, the Member is considered the Captain and responsible for the care and control of the boat. If the Member is a guest on a boat and the owner is also present, regardless of who is at the helm, the owner would be responsible for having the appropriate towing service, not the guest member on board.

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Q:  I use my boat for charter fishing and diving (or I deliver boats for a dealer). Can I use my BoatUS Towing Service for that boat?

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 the Member is a paid captain, the boat or Member is considered commercial. In these cases, the appropriate commercial towing insurance should be purchased as a rider to their policy

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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. Even after you are already safe and sound in your slip, the clock doesn’t stop until the tow boat has returned to its home dock. Remember to take that into consideration when selecting your towing service level. Our fleet is the only one to be universally paid for their time. So they are dedicated to get up at 2 a.m. in the morning to service you!

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Q: Can I upgrade my towing service level at any time during the year?

A:   Yes. You may upgrade your towing service option at any time during your membership year. Upgrading your towing option during the first six months of your membership year will require that you pay full price for the desired towing service level option. Upgrading during the last six months of your membership year will be done at half price. Regardless of when you choose to upgrade, the towing option expires the same day as your current membership.