Other important types of insurance
While there are many other types of insurance that will cover you while you are on the water there are three that we particularly recommend, especially for those operating internationally:
Think of this as AAA for your boat. If your engine dies or your sail tears, and you need help getting to land, you don’t want to have to rely on the Coast Guard or a good Samaritan. These companies will come tow you for a reasonable rate.
Now, you may have a towing rider on your insurance policy. You may therefore feel that a specific towing membership is unnecessary. If so, please allow me a moment to change your mind. First of all, towing riders tend to have a limit. If you’re looking at a $1,000 limit, and feeling pretty good, you should definitely be aware of some details.
Towing companies start their clocks when they leave their docks, and don’t stop them until they return. Even if you just need a tow a couple miles to your home port, if you’re 15 miles away from the nearest tow service, you’ll get billed for their travel both ways.
Charges often range between $150/hr and $450/hr, depending on the company in question, weather conditions, and what time of day it is.
Given that Sea Tow and Boat US prioritize their own members first, you may be asked to wait.
Even in a best-case scenario, where the charges from the tow company come in under the rider limit, you have cost your insurance company money. They are likely to bump your rates after an incident. Even if they only raise them by $15 a month, you’ll spend more on insurance than you would have on the most expensive towing package available to recreational boaters. A membership is fundamentally different than insurance. Your rates don’t go up just because you needed their services. At under $200/year, these memberships are a bargain, and we highly recommend them if you plan on any offshore boating, fishing, or cruising.
Sea Tow provides towing and other services to thousands of their members each year. The membership fee is $179 ($119 if you only boat on inland waterways and lakes). So if you only boat a couple times a year, or are always a short paddle away from your dock, the service may not be worth it. If you take your boat out consistently, however, or tend to go out a mile or more, the price of that membership will look a lot cheaper if your engine dies and you need a tow back to shore.
Despite its name, Sea Tow provides far more than just towing services. They also provide:
Free fuel drops: If you run out of fuel, they will deliver some to your boat.
Free Jump Starts: They will show up with the cables.
Free Disentanglements and Soft Ungroundings: If a line gets wrapped around your prop–you guessed it–they’ll come out and untangle you. If you run aground on a sand bar or other soft bank and just need to be pulled free, they will come tow you off. It should be noted that not all ungroundings are covered by this policy.
Sea Tow is available 24/7/365, and members in need are prioritized for these and many other services. In addition your membership extends to any vessel that you charter, lease, rent, or borrow (although not those, on which you are a guest).
It is worth noting that Sea Tow provides many of these services to non-members too. However, as their prices for non-members start at $175/hr, you may begin wishing you had that membership one hour and one minute after they leave the dock.
Although Boat US is a more traditional insurance company, they do provide towing assistance at an affordable rate. Boat US offers bare-bones towing memberships that start at just $24 (though I don’t recommend those). Their Gold membership is slightly cheaper than Sea Tow’s, at $169, and provides most of the same services. Between the two, you may find yourself deciding based on their closest location to you.
Boat US services to their Gold members include:
Fuel Delivery and Jump Starts
Rewards and discounts at West Marine
On the Road assistance: If you trailer your boat frequently, this plan is probably worth the money. It costs an additional $14/yr on top of your plan. You receive:
Towing assistance for your trailer up to 100 miles,
Coverage for flat tire assistance
Lockout service on either the trailer or your towing vehicle.
When traveling outside of the USA, people often forget that their health coverage does not always extend abroad. In some countries (i.e. Western Europe) the national health insurance extends to tourists, so you can show up in a hospital and expect cheap or free treatment. This is not the case in most countries, however, so if you plan on boating abroad, look into your policy to see if you’ll be covered, or if you can extend it.
This is particularly important to those boating outside U.S. waters. If you get sick or injured and need to be evacuated to a hospital immediately, you will be very happy you got this coverage. There are two providers we can personally recommend.
A few others that people often forget but can provide coverage either to the boat or to
Credit card coverage. While not all cards cover everything many have far more coverage than you might think. For some examples click here.
Remember, everyone’s health policy is different, and I am not going to even pretend that I understand the health insurance market, much less each policy. So make sure you reach out to your provider to ensure you are covered.