Towing vs. Salvage

All boaters should review their marine insurance coverage with their agent. The best protection against a salvage bill is adequate insurance.

Understanding the difference between towing and salvage can save boaters money and aggravation. Historically and legally, salvage is any voluntary and successful rescue of a boat and/or its cargo from a peril at sea. BoatUS, however, narrows this definition. When contracting for towing services on behalf of its over half a million members, it requires that marine assistance companies distinguish between simple towing and/or soft groundings and the more serious and expensive salvage efforts where distress or danger exist.

The distinction between towing and salvage is reflected in the different types of programs available to boaters. Towing assistance, like the pre-paid service available to BoatUS members from the TowBoatUS fleet, provides help for breakdowns and light groundings. The far more expensive salvage claims are covered only by hull insurance policies.

A Cautionary Tale

Few things are more frustrating than dealing with insurance on a catastrophic loss. Know what you are insured for and what you are not. All boaters should review their marine insurance coverage with their agent. The best protection against a salvage bill is adequate insurance.

Not long ago one of our customers, a man with years of experience on the water, had an explosion in the engine compartment of his 22' Starcraft. An event for which his boat, long covered under his home owners insurance, was not covered. He and his wife were lucky to escape into the water to be picked up by bystanders without serious burns. We responded to a vessel that was fully engulfed in flames and adrift. A United States Coast Guard vessel was standing by but would not approach the burning vessel because the water depth was too shallow for their vessel.

Starcraft Fire 16
Starcraft Swamped 16
Starcraft Disposal
Fountain
Fountain 16
Pier Sinking PA 16
Thumb Salvage 14
Washed From Hoist 16
Deck Boat 15

The burning vessel was drifting towards shore and was an imminent danger to several properties along the shoreline. As the weather deteriorated and a strong on shore wind developed, we pulled it further out, away from hazards and used pumps to extinguish the fire and swamp the vessel. We returned to completely remove its burnt remains from the lake the following morning with additional equipment and personal and dispose of it as required by law. Leaving the watercraft would have lead to the discharge of pollutants such as petroleum in violation of MCL 324.3109, and abandoning the watercraft would violate MCL 324.80130f. The DNR was alerted by the USCG and a report was filed requiring removal.

 

 

The customer was in no position not to salvage the vessel, but insurance only covered $500. The balance of the costs for boats, crew, divers and disposal came out of his own pocket. Review your boat insurance and establish if you are covered for a worse case scenario, that's what insurance is for, but too often we encounter customers who learn too late that fine print left them uncovered at the  worst possible time

A Good Article from BoatU.S. on Salvage Considerations

"The thin veneer we call civilization can disappear where a shipwreck is concerned."
- Richard Loran, Shipwrecks of Great Britain and Ireland

Understanding the difference between towing and salvage can save boaters money and aggravation. Historically and legally, salvage is any voluntary and successful rescue of a boat and/or its cargo from a peril at sea. BoatUS, however, narrows this definition. When contracting for towing services on behalf of its over half a million members, it requires that marine assistance companies distinguish between simple towing and/or soft groundings and the more serious and expensive salvage efforts where distress or danger exist.

The distinction between towing and salvage is reflected in the different types of programs available to boaters. Towing assistance, like the pre-paid service available to BoatUS members from the TowBoatUS fleet, provides help for breakdowns and light groundings. The far more expensive salvage claims are covered only by yacht insurance policies.

If the salvor wants to do the job but does not know what the cost will be but will make claim afterwards, the final amount will be decided one of three ways -- negotiation with your insurance company; binding arbitration (including the BoatUS Salvage Arbitration Program, a low-cost option available to any boat owner, insurance company, and marine assistance company) or, rarely, through litigation in federal admiralty courts.

All boaters should review their marine insurance coverage with their agent. The best protection against a salvage bill is adequate insurance. Boaters should make sure the policy provides for salvage up to the full value of the boat, not a percentage of its value, and that there is no deductible for salvage costs. The BoatUS marine insurance program offers this level of service.

As millions of recreational boat owners get ready to launch their vessels this season, knowing the difference between towing and salvage could save them boatloads of money should they need help on the water, says BoatUS, whose towing companies are the nation's largest fleet of assistance towing vessels.

Historically and legally, salvage is any voluntary and successful rescue of a boat and/or its cargo from a peril at sea. Salvage often results in a "demand" for a percentage of the boat's post-casualty value — sometimes a considerable amount of money. Towing costs much less and is billed by the hour, averaging $200 per hour for non-members.

The distinction between towing and salvage is reflected in the different types of programs available to boaters. Towing assistance, like the pre-paid service available to BoatUS members, provides help for breakdowns and light groundings. The far more expensive salvage claims are covered only by yacht insurance policies such as BoatUS Marine Insurance.

Since the same marine assistance company often provides both towing and salvage services, it is essential that the boat owner reach an understanding with the marine assistance provider before action is taken, cautions Jerry Cardarelli, BoatUS Vice President of Towing Services. BoatUS Towing Service Providers are required to inform the captain of a boat before beginning any work if the procedure is salvage, not towing. If this isn't possible due to wind and sea conditions, the towing company should tell the captain as soon as possible.

However, boaters should not assume they will always be told. Boaters should always ask whether the job is towing or salvage before they accept a tow.

If the answer is "salvage," the boater should ask if the company — or "salvor" — will give a fixed price or one based on time and materials before beginning the job. If so, get the price in writing or, if an oral agreement, try to have someone witness it, Cardarelli suggests.

If the salvor wants to do the job first and says he does not know what the cost will be but will make a salvage claim afterwards, the final charge will be decided one of three ways: negotiation with the boater's insurance company; binding arbitration (a variety of forums exist, including the BoatUS Salvage Arbitration Program, a low-cost option available to all boat owners, marine assistance and insurance companies); or — rarely — through litigation in federal admiralty courts. If the salvor does not give a price before doing the job, the boater should ask the salvor if he uses or will agree to use the BoatUS Open Form Yacht Salvage Contract, which assures any claim can go to binding arbitration if negotiation fails.

Continued at boatus.com

© 2007 by Bay Marine Salvage & Services, Ltd.
Proudly created with Wix.com

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Google+ Social Icon
  • LinkedIn Social Icon

4554 Colwood Rd

Unionville, MI 48767

office@baymarinesalvage.com

Salvage & Services, Ltd.

Pier Sinking PA 16