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Old 08-06-2015, 05:06 PM   #81
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Here's what Boat US says about unlimited towing. Why we have unlimited is for the underlined text. It's not unlimited but sure helps if I need a tow.

Both the Unlimited and the Unlimited Gold Towing Service Levels provide for towing assistance should your boat breakdown on the water or run aground and require assistance within the local towing companies Unlimited Service Area. In such an event the tow would be provided for in full with not out of pocket expense to you. All BoatUS approved towing companies offer a minimum Unlimited Service area of 25 miles from their homeport. Many offer extended Unlimited Service Areas to meet the needs of their local boating community. Your local towing companyís Unlimited Service Area can be found here. If you require service outside an approved companies Unlimited Service Area, BoatUS provides for the first $2,500 of the tow under Unlimited Service Level and the first $3000 under the Unlimited Gold Service Level.
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Old 08-06-2015, 05:30 PM   #82
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I just reviewed their website -- nowhere do they say what unlimited means, nor do they say how far they will tow for free. Really a scam, IMO.
If you choose not to use them, that's your choice, but they are most definitely not a scam. As far as their website covering the situation you mentioned, here is a rather detailed page on their site.

Towing Services Agreement - BoatUS

Each member also gets a policy which they should read. If it doesn't meet their needs then cancel immediately.

Yes, I also dislike the use of the word "unlimited" because there truly is nothing in the universe that is unlimited. But their use is typical and defined well on their site and better in the policy. They mean an unlimited number of incidents per year.

They are far from perfect, but scam is not an appropriate term to describe them. The vast majority of their customers are very happy.
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Old 08-06-2015, 05:38 PM   #83
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Also to add, each tow location does show it's tow area. For instance, Miami only covers 75 miles offshore but Fort Lauderdale covers 130 miles and West Palm, Jupiter, and Boynton cover 172 miles. In South Florida where many people cruise to the Bahamas regularly, the fact they are covered is a tremendous value. Imagine the cost of getting towed from 150 miles offshore without insurance.

Coverage has more gaps in California. Also, the California locations restrict their area to 100 miles offshore with the Unlimited Gold policy, otherwise 40 miles.
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Old 08-06-2015, 06:08 PM   #84
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They are far from perfect, but scam is not an appropriate term to describe them. The vast majority of their customers are very happy.
I was specifically referring to Vessel Assist, not BoatUS. BoatUS may be fine, but the fact that the vast majority are happy doesn't really mean much. Ask those who were lead to believe that they were buying "unlimited" towing only to find out that they would owe thousands for a tow whether they felt scammed. I would, wouldn't you?
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Old 08-06-2015, 06:09 PM   #85
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I think one of the possible issues is.... franchises might mislead the living daylights out of you...not always because they are doing it on purpose...sometimes the spokesperson...say at a boat show....may not be completely familiar with the actual membership agreement and reality.


Again not casting any particular insults...but for every good group of towers....there's always one who may not meet the high standards the industry wants to achieve.


And there certainly plenty of nasty stories going around...not all believable...but some I wouldn't doubt.


Either way.... unlimited towing could be better worded, and certainly needs to be presented clearly. I guess it is hard much of the time as everyone buying the policy is probably thinking something a little different unless you play a pretty exhausting what if game unless you have them sit down and explain the membership guide.
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Old 08-06-2015, 06:11 PM   #86
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Coverage has more gaps in California. Also, the California locations restrict their area to 100 miles offshore with the Unlimited Gold policy, otherwise 40 miles.
The BoatUS website may be different, but the Vessel Assist website doesn't mention that limitation, at least not in a way that it easy to find. The word "unlimited" is all over the place, and a radius restriction is inherently a limitation. But the use of that word, "unlimited" without immediate qualification is, to my mind, fraudulent.
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Old 08-06-2015, 06:58 PM   #87
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The BoatUS website may be different, but the Vessel Assist website doesn't mention that limitation, at least not in a way that it easy to find. The word "unlimited" is all over the place, and a radius restriction is inherently a limitation. But the use of that word, "unlimited" without immediate qualification is, to my mind, fraudulent.
Vessel Assist takes you to Boat US, they're part of it. You must be referring to the vesselassistsanddiego.com website? They do also, under Towing, state that it's 100 nm offshore and tell you to visit the Boat US website. They do not, to my knowledge have the agreement on their site. They are just a franchisee.

I think any of us understand the word, "unlimited" does have limitations. For instance, I don't believe you or anyone thought it meant they would tow you from Thailand to Memphis. The issue is that we all interpret it differently, which is my agreements disclose the details and define it.

However, if you feel the franchisee's site is fraudulent, I'd suggest contacting them and, if necessary, the parent.

I guess the one thing I get out of this discussion as to coverage is something I've said before and now bears repeating. Read every word of any policy carefully. Every insurance policy has exclusions and some will surprise you. I'd encourage reading before purchasing, but if not that, then they must give you time to cancel upon receipt of the policy. What policies cover and don't is often difficult to figure out. If one thinks any of their policies is straightforward, I doubt if they've read it. For instance, the current new fad is in how disputes are to be resolved and the use of arbitration. But that can take thousands of different forms. What about buying a policy in Florida that reads any litigation must be in Nevada? Don't laugh. I saw an "extended warranty" on a car that read just that way.

Obviously there are those who have felt their towing coverage was broader than it was. As consumers, the only thing we can do about that is to be more diligent in seeing what the coverage is exactly. I don't know if it's been said in this thread either but while we call it "tow insurance", it isn't. It's a membership program. That does put it under very different governance.

As to membership programs, if you join a country club or a yacht club, read their membership carefully as well.
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Old 08-06-2015, 07:24 PM   #88
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If I lived in an area with the service, I would subscribe..... it's well worth the cost.....
That`s what I thought, until I read that tow services may prioritize on the basis of "money", between 2 boats in different levels of difficulty.
The only service where we are is Marine Rescue, fortunately it provides a broader service than your CG.
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Old 08-06-2015, 11:28 PM   #89
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[QUOTE=
I have spent all of my 52 years on the water, and I have never needed a tow. I still buy VvA coverage because I believe its a goos investment. Maybe not dollar for dollar each time, but to save me having to write a 2000 dollar check to get home one day. Without that coverage, you will be waiting for your situation to deteriorate to the point that the USCG will come for you. I prefer to take care of myself instead of asking uncle Sam to save my ass.
.[/QUOTE]

So you have never used the service but you continue to spend the annual fee for the service?

So if you had put the money in a interest earning account how many times would you saved up the $ 2500 and banked more to cover the really big tow that costs over the $2500 cap of the "limited unlimited" coverage.

Your a shining example of one who should self insure.
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Old 08-07-2015, 12:07 AM   #90
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I have spent all of my 52 years on the water, and I have never needed a tow. I still buy VvA coverage because I believe its a goos investment. Maybe not dollar for dollar each time, but to save me having to write a 2000 dollar check to get home one day. Without that coverage, you will be waiting for your situation to deteriorate to the point that the USCG will come for you. I prefer to take care of myself instead of asking uncle Sam to save my ass.
Ok. Somebody please help me out here. My reaction to this line of thinking is what got me in trouble with a member earlier in this thread. Please tell me how carrying tow insurance makes you any safer???? That is a rhetorical question because the answer is....It does NOT!!! Nor does it make you any more or less reliant on Uncle Sam "to save your ass"!!!! If you do not have tow insurance and you need a tow, you call the friggin tow!!!! What am I missing here?????

There is an underlying thought in this thread that just because you do not have tow insurance means you have no access to a tow. You have just as much access to a tow as anyone else on the water. It is just that the non insured will have to pay out of pocket!!!

Is my last paragraph correct????? That is not rhetorical. I really want to know what I am missing so that I can be a safer boater.
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Old 08-07-2015, 07:01 AM   #91
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Baker...you are absolutely correct and Hollywood makes the eternal argument against insurance.
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Old 08-07-2015, 11:15 AM   #92
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Baker...you are absolutely correct and Hollywood makes the eternal argument against insurance.
The arguments for and against insurance are basically the same regardless of what type insurance being discussed.

One other option is just having coverage on high dollar amounts, those above what you can easily handle. High deductible medical plans are becoming prevalent.

However, outside medical, I've found high deductible to not provide the savings I might have thought they would. Auto is a prime example. $100, $250, $500, $1000. I thought one time there was a very large difference between each of those steps. Not so last time I asked the question. The reason is that it's not the $200 or $400 claim that really costs. It's the $10,000 - $25,000 claim and on them a $100 deductible vs. $500 really means little. Perhaps this varies based on driving record. I found the same thing on boat insurance. To reduce the premium and to reduce the probability of even having to deal with the insurance carrier, I asked for prices with much higher deductibles. I found that multiplying my deductible on the hull coverage by 10 (1000%) would only result in a 1.5% reduction in premium.
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Old 08-07-2015, 12:42 PM   #93
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Baker...you are absolutely correct and Hollywood makes the eternal argument against insurance.
Thank you sir. And I consider your opinion in this matter with much greater weight since you are the professional here. I really am not necessarily arguing for or against at this point. I just want to understand.

I will say we had this one dude on our dock way back when. He had a (VW)Pathfinder diesel in his sailboat. The fuel solenoid on his boat was wired to fail closed when it lost electrical power and he was having electrical issues and he was not all that smart. Long story short(if it is not too late), he would get towed in every time he went out. Sea Tow cancelled him after about the 4th or 5th tow in about a 2 month stretch. I guess there is something in the paperwork that provides for cancellation if you "overuse" your privileges.

I will reconsider carrying tow insurance if nothing more than to support the franchise. But as I typed that, I realized that there are so many people in this area that are just smart enough to carry the insurance while not necesarily smart enough to keep a boat in proper order..... So I think those guys are covered. And I would assume the private franchises only make money when there is a tow....not on the yearly premiums???
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Old 08-07-2015, 01:04 PM   #94
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Baker your logic is sound and your general line of thinking applies equally to most all forms of insurance. Insurance in general is a tool used to protect ones self against a financial risk they otherwise would not or could not normally afford.

Example: my current term life insurance policy will expire in a few years once the last of our children are out of the nest and all of our nests have been paid for. There's more than enough money in our checking account to cover our "final expenses".
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Old 08-07-2015, 01:16 PM   #95
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Baker your logic is sound and your general line of thinking applies equally to most all forms of insurance. Insurance in general is a tool used to protect ones self against a financial risk they otherwise would not or could not normally afford.

Example: my current term life insurance policy will expire in a few years once the last of our children are out of the nest and all of our nests have been paid for. There's more than enough money in our checking account to cover our "final expenses".
I would agree to some degree. But...I think in ref to tow insurance, one has more control over the risk. There are MANY more variables when it comes to cars or your health. Variables that are well beyond one's control. So that is the big difference....in my opinion.
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Old 08-07-2015, 01:49 PM   #96
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So I think those guys are covered. And I would assume the private franchises only make money when there is a tow....not on the yearly premiums???
They make money on a combination of the two.

As to the person you mentioned who was cancelled by Sea Tow, I know of one person on the lake who was terminated by Boat US. He had run aground once, he'd run out of fuel two or three times. But the clincher was battery. First, he had an inadequate car battery in his boat. The tow captain was very nice to him, had even boosted him twice at his dock, which isn't officially covered. But the clincher was the second day in a row, on top of the previous weekend, that he required a battery boost on the lake. He would go anchor and they would turn the music up and swim and drink all afternoon and eventually run their little battery down. The final time was a very busy day and the tow captain told him to just stay anchored and it would be a couple of hours as he had a sinking boat he was dealing with. The customer lost it and cursed him about that being unacceptable and not the standards promised, then called back the company to complain, saying he wanted a refund of his premium to compensate him. Well, he was informed on Monday he would be getting his premium back as his membership was cancelled.

The sad thing is the amount of negative publicity this brought as he told dozens if not hundreds about being stranded and when he complained about it taking over two hours, they cancelled him. Oh, and ultimately he only had to wait an hour and 20 minutes. He was just quoted a conservative two hours.

I've found the tow companies go out of their way. Even when the customer is wrong, negative publicity is still very harmful.

The rest of the story. He signed up then with Sea Tow. Got very upset when they wouldn't come boost him at his dock. Said he should charge it there. He said he didn't have a charger, they suggested he should get one. Then he says, Boat US always did it. We moved and I have no idea how the future with Sea Tow went. Now I'm curious. lol.
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Old 08-07-2015, 03:32 PM   #97
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There are MANY more variables when it comes to cars or your health. Variables that are well beyond one's control. So that is the big difference....in my opinion.

You got that right. At 59 years old I've never, ever, had a medical issue more than the sniffles for a few days during even the worst of the flu seasons. Until my insurance company ponied up ~$35k to Johns Hopkins for my recent cancer surgery. Damn! I sure didn't see that coming, I plan on being Last Man Standing among all my broken down friends and relatives.

Medical insurance is the last major hurdle I have to deal with before retirement. Hopefully in 33 months. I did a preliminary look at the ACA costs - WHOA! Just not sure yet what I'm going to do about that.
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Old 08-07-2015, 04:24 PM   #98
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Thank you sir. And I consider your opinion in this matter with much greater weight since you are the professional here. I really am not necessarily arguing for or against at this point. I just want to understand.

I will say we had this one dude on our dock way back when. He had a (VW)Pathfinder diesel in his sailboat. The fuel solenoid on his boat was wired to fail closed when it lost electrical power and he was having electrical issues and he was not all that smart. Long story short(if it is not too late), he would get towed in every time he went out. Sea Tow cancelled him after about the 4th or 5th tow in about a 2 month stretch. I guess there is something in the paperwork that provides for cancellation if you "overuse" your privileges.

I will reconsider carrying tow insurance if nothing more than to support the franchise. But as I typed that, I realized that there are so many people in this area that are just smart enough to carry the insurance while not necesarily smart enough to keep a boat in proper order..... So I think those guys are covered. And I would assume the private franchises only make money when there is a tow....not on the yearly premiums???
I believe the difference between the two major towers is....

Sea Tow franchises get a big chunk of each membership and cover their overhead from that...

Boat US franchises send all membership money to Boat US Corporate...and they only get money back when towing.

That is my loose understanding of the two and the finer points I have never bothered with as I am just a hired gun captain. Not to say my general knowledge hasn't been tapped and sit downs with the boss do happen about running the business occasionally.

The Coastie in me wants to apologize every time I hand one of these eye opening bills to non-members....but I am loyal no matter which master I serve.

The other day I gave a person a $882+ bill for 5 gallons of fuel delivered. It was painful but the common response...probably more so from other boaters is "it is their own fault"....especially since the guy had borrowed his mother in laws boat. In this case in the guy had no clue about the boat and the mother in law should have had the insurance to keep the borrowing family members from a dire out of pocket expense. Just to keep good feelings.

On the other hand....I too am one of those guys who tries to and has been successful in taking care of my own situations. But I feel in my blood a tow coming in my future because cruising like I am doing in an older boat. It just begs a situation where I would rather call and relax while I troubleshoot...knowing I have 2 options and one wont cost anything that day when my head is spinning already.

Will I pay out more in the next 20 years than I get back in tows? I don't know... I probably will....but I will figure out where to cut an expense here or there to give me that option...maybe a spare part that just doesn't have the shelf life it should.
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Old 08-07-2015, 04:26 PM   #99
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I don't fight Murphy and his law is, if I drop or reduce some coverage I never use, then I'll need it.
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Old 08-07-2015, 04:29 PM   #100
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Will I pay out more in the next 20 years than I get back in tows? I don't know... I kinda hope not....but I will figure out where to cut an expense here or there to give me that option...maye a spare part that just doesn't have the shelf life it should.
I kinda hope it turns out to be the worst investment I ever made and I pay out and never use.
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