If you’ve never required a tow while boating, it’s just a matter of time before you do. Even if you maintain your boat to the highest possible degree, stuff happens that is out of your control. Underwater obstructions, for instance, are just one hazard that may bite you one day. If you don’t have towing insurance you are in for a rude, i.e. expensive, surprise.

boat towing insuranceMy most vivid example comes from personal experience. I like to think I maintain our boat to a high degree, but a few seasons ago, after some engine work on one of our 33’ powerboats’ engines, a fuel leak developed. The good news was we caught it before anything bad happened, but the bad news was there was nothing I could do to address the problem with my limited toolkit on hand. My wife and I had scooted across the Chesapeake Bay to one of our favorite spots – Knapps Narrows – a great place to tie up and have some lunch and watch the watermen come in and out along with the heavy volume of recreational boats. Getting ready to depart, I spotted, or rather smelled, the leak on my routine pre-start engine compartment checks. Uh-oh, I thought. I considered our options. We had another perfectly good motor so it was tempting to fire it up and limp home single engine. But, having a healthy respect for gas, its fumes, and what can happen given any ignition source, I quickly ruled that one out.

The second option was to try to get the issue addressed on the spot by a local mechanic, but we ruled that out as well given our time constraints and desire to get the boat, and us, back home. So we elected to call for a tow. After all, we thought, that’s what it’s for!

Eventually the towboat arrived and we began to make our way back across the bay. As luck would have it a fast moving storm rolled in which, at our stately speed of 5 or 6 knots, we could do nothing but watch develop. To make a long story short, the wind came, the swells built, and the rain came making for an eventful crossing. Once we got back in the shelter of Rockhold Creek we settled with the towboat operator which consisted of signing the $0 due invoice. Easy peasy. Without the insurance the tow would’ve cost upwards of $1,000.

There are several plans available from www.boats.com and www.seatow.com, among others. Make sure to read the ‘fine print’ to understand the details and limitations of your coverage, but by all means do elect the coverage appropriate for your geographic location. You’ll be glad you did!

Written by Matt Howard – Yacht Broker