About:  BoatUS

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has been looking after the interests of recreational boaters since its founding by Richard Schwartz in 1966. We are the nation’s largest organization of recreational boat owners, with over half a million dues-paying Members. We provide a diverse offering of marine services for the recreational boater, including insuring over 8 billion dollars’ worth of boats, operating the largest on the water towing fleet – TowBoatUS, representing boaters’ interests on Capitol Hill, providing financing for boat-buyers, creating quality boat graphics and lettering, publishing the most widely circulated boating publication – BoatUS Magazine, acting as a mediator through our Consumer Protection Bureau and more.  

BoatUS:  Mission

BoatUS makes boating better. We proudly provide a single source of exceptional service and savings for boaters, including marine insurance and towing. We remain dedicated to educating and protecting boaters and their rights – making boating safer, more affordable and accessible.

What is the BoatUS Towing Program?

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 TowBoatUS.

Do I have to join BoatUS to get towing?

Yes. BoatUS is a Membership organization. In addition to receiving 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 to our members for over 40 years.

What does 'Unlimited' mean?

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 no 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 company’s 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 $3,000 under the Unlimited Gold Service Level.

What's so special about BoatUS Towing Dispatch?

BoatUS has the largest recreational boat and trailer dispatch center nationwide. The National Dispatch Center is open 24 hours, 365 days a year to answer questions and dispatch towing assistance. The Center can be reached by cell phone, VHF radio or via a Coast Guard relay.

How do I know whether I need Salt or Freshwater Unlimited Towing?

Freshwater Unlimited Towing applies to all inland lakes and rivers (other than those in Florida) 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, or in Florida, you’ll want to select the Saltwater Unlimited option.

What does the service level on my Membership Card mean?

It 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

Can I upgrade my towing service level at any time during the year? How can I upgrade?

Yes. You may upgrade your towing service level at any time during your Membership year. Upgrading during the last six months of your Membership year will be done at half price. Towing expires the same day as your Membership. To upgrade now, visit the towing upgrade page or call 800-395-2628 M-F 8-7 EST.

Is my BoatUS Towing Service valid wherever I boat?

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 service area, BoatUS will provide for towing service up to your selected service level.

Even if you are boating in an area that is not supported by a TowBoatUS Service Provider, BoatUS will reimburse your towing service up to your service level: $2,500 for Unlimited Towing, $3,000 for Unlimited Gold Towing and $5,000 for Commercial Towing, when authorized by the BoatUS 24-hour Dispatch Center.

What do I do if there is no TowBoatUS in my area? Can I use another towing company to tow my boat?

In areas where BoatUS is available, an authorized service provider must be used. Contact the BoatUS 24 Hour Dispatch Service Center at 800-391-4869 if there is not one in your area. Once verified by the Dispatch Center that you are boating in an area without a TowBoatUS service provider, BoatUS will authorize to reimburse your out-of-pocket expense to your service level ($2500 for Unlimited, $3000 for Unlimited Gold, and $5000 for Commercial Towing).

SectIs it true that towing companies bill from the time they leave their dock to the time they return?

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.

What is the difference between towing and salvage? What happens if my boat should sink?

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.).” The BoatUS Towing Service does not provide for salvage operations such as a sinking or hard grounding. Salvage operations, including towing from the salvage site, would be paid for by a yacht or boat insurance policy, such as BoatUS Marine Insurance. More information about the difference between towing and salvage.

If a friend or a family member borrows my boat and it breaks down, can they use my Membership?

Yes. A friend or family member using your boat would be provided for up to your towing service level. The towboat captain would need to verify that you are the owner of the vessel and that your Membership and towing level are current.

Does BoatUS Towing Service apply if I am a guest on a friend's boat?

If the owner of the boat is 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. BoatUS towing provides for any instance the Member is considered the Captain and responsible for the care and control of the boat (owns, borrows, or charters).

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

BoatUS Towing Service is meant for tows resulting from breakdowns at sea or at restricted use docks. In the event of a breakdown at your home dock or mooring the Unlimited Service Level will provide for 50% of the cost to tow your boat to a repair facility. The Unlimited Gold Service Level provides for 100% of the cost to tow your disabled boat up to 25 miles from its home dock or mooring to a repair facility. Towing Program does not provide for pre-existing conditions or tows from a home dock or mooring in the first 30 days of Membership.

Would my BoatUS Towing pay to have my boat moved or towed in preparation for an oncoming storm?

The Towing Program does not provide for towing in advance of a storm. However, your local TowBoatUS will tow your boat for storm preparation but early planning is essential. The towing companies will discontinue operations when they deem conditions to be unsafe. Also, some companies may require someone to be present for the tow. If you have a BoatUS Yacht or Boat Saver policy, your policy may provide reimbursement of 50% of the tow (up to $1,000) to the nearest safe haul out if your boat is located within the hurricane watch or warning area issued by NOAA. This feature is not available on BoatUS PWC policies. If you have a different boat insurance company, we recommend you call your Agent or Claims Adjuster to find out if they will do the same.

Can my Commercial Towing Membership be listed under my business name?

Yes. Commercial Towing is providing for the specific boat named on the Membership, so the boat would be provided for regardless of who is operating it. The Commercial Towing service level provides for a single boat that is operated as an Uninspected Passenger Vessel, being used in the following manner: chartering, boat rentals, fishing, instruction, diving, surveying, mooring maintenance, professionally racing boats and delivering recreational boats under hire. Please call 800-367-8222 for more information.

If I deliver boats for a dealer, can I use my BoatUS Towing Service?

If the Membership and Commercial Towing are being purchased to provide for a Delivery Captain, then the Membership will need to be in the name of the individual captain. Please call 800-367-8222 for more information.

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