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Old 06-09-2018, 07:50 PM   #1
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Towing insurance - Red vs. Yellow

Just wondering what others have found with the two competing towing insurance operators.

I've had "red" for years, and once actually got a short tow from them.

But the last two times I called (on other people's boats) they simply refused to come out. One time the owner was told we were out of their coverage area (about 7 miles from where I happened to know the red tow boat was tied up at the time) and the other time they claimed to have "no captain available."

The first time, we got the engine running and limped in. The second time, "yellow" was called and they happily (for their usual fee) came and towed us back - more than 30 miles.

The "yellow" operator claimed he hears similar stories all the time, and assured us that they'd always come out for a customer, or send someone who could. He said he'd recently done a tow from more than twice as far offshore as we were.

Is my experience an anomaly, or is there really a significant difference in coverage and service between the two?
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Old 06-09-2018, 08:42 PM   #2
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Greetings,
Mr.CT. When was the last time any company praised their competition? We've subscribed to the "red" boats for the last 7 or 8 years but have never used the service. As with any big business with multiple "branches" you'll find good and bad within the same company.
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Old 06-09-2018, 08:53 PM   #3
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Your answers will unfortunately be as varied as the people who provide them. Since personal experiences rely upon the attitude of the person requesting the service, and the captain who provides it, you can't rely on one referral above the other.

Locally, our 'red' team is much more personable and experienced than the 'yellow' team, but both provide an equal amount of service in the area.
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Old 06-09-2018, 09:58 PM   #4
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While having gone aground a half-dozen times yet not needing assistance, we've got towing insurance, and similarly have AAAcoverage for our automobile.
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Old 06-10-2018, 08:54 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markpierce View Post
While having gone aground a half-dozen times yet not needing assistance, we've got towing insurance, and similarly have AAAcoverage for our automobile.
My thoughts exactly.

But my last two experiences with "red" central dispatch were along the lines of "yeah, screw you. We can call the Coast Guard for you if you want. Otherwise, don't bother us."

And that's as a member.

My concern is that this isn't a one-off, one-location experience. Two different years, on opposite ends of the East Coast, and dealing with their central dispatcher, not some local slug.
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Old 06-10-2018, 10:41 AM   #6
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I am a little puzzled. If you have towing insurance with red and you call and they can't respond either because they don't want to, claim you are out of their service area, don't have a captain available or whatever, aren't they obligated to pay the cost for yellow to respond?


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Old 06-10-2018, 11:10 AM   #7
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Was in the business at the USCG end monitoring the early years of the assistance towing services and after retirement, was an assistance tower for 15 years.

There are a small percentage of horror stories, some possible legitament non-response occasions.... but all in all, problems with these towing companies are anomolies......if they had been followed through at the national level, I think the issues of non-response might be more clear.

If guessing which company, red or yellow would respond without hesitaton, one could argue the way franchises are financially involved, red boat would jump all over a call...not sit back unless the franchise or captain didn't want a pay check.

I believe that a well thought call to national would have given some pretty direct answers.

Both national organizations have answered my queries into unusual service issues extremely well.

Cental dispatcher? National or the franchise dispatch?
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Old 06-10-2018, 03:09 PM   #8
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It varies by area. Some areas red seems to dominate, other areas it's yellow. Horror stories are at the local level, no different than a bad fast food restaurant. I personally have both and coverage on my boat insurance. Options are good. Finally, the cost is fly poop compared to owning a boat.

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Old 06-11-2018, 07:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
It varies by area. Some areas red seems to dominate, other areas it's yellow. Horror stories are at the local level, no different than a bad fast food restaurant. I personally have both and coverage on my boat insurance. Options are good. Finally, the cost is fly poop compared to owning a boat.

Ted
I think Ted sums it up nicely, with a shout-out to psneeld for a well-thought-out reply based on real world experience.

Hearing no outpouring of "Yes! They did it to me too!" I'm going to chalk it up to coincidence that I had two back-to-back bad experiences. I'm also going to sign up for "yellow" coverage, in addition to my existing "red" coverage, and the towing rider on my regular insurance policy.

The cost is too low, relative to the costs of a long-distance tow, to spend any more time thinking about it.
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Old 06-11-2018, 01:37 PM   #10
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I have only had one experience with a towing service in my very long boating life. It was last year when my engine died when I was in the Tacoma Narrows. I called BoatUS and was called back by Vessel Assist after a few minutes.

The towboat operator was about 45 minutes away. I was trying to keep from going aground. He ended up taking a lot longer as he helped two other boats on the way South to me. He arrived just in time and towed me back to my slip. He was very professional and it didn't cost me anything.
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