Understanding the difference between towing and salvage could save you lots of money and frustration if you end up needing help on the water. Salvage refers to any voluntary and successful rescue of a boat, its passengers, and its cargo from a peril at sea. However, your yacht insurance company likely narrows this definition and requires that marine assistance companies distinguish between simple towing and light groundings, and more expensive and serious salvage efforts in which danger or distress exists.
Towing occurs when there is no immediate danger to the yacht or to a legally protected marine environment. It requires only one vessel with lines attached to it to tow a disabled boat or to refloat a grounded vessel. The boat also qualifies for towing instead of salvage if it can rest without peril while grounded until the tide returns to float her free or if it drifts in calm conditions after losing power. Salvage involves imminent peril to a grounded, stranded, or sinking yacht or to a protected marine environment. These services also use more than one towing vessel or special equipment such as high capacity pumps or air bags.
Towing costs are billed by the hour whereas salvage often results in a substantial required percentage of the yacht’s post-casualty value. Custom yacht insurance provides yachters the best protection against a salvage bill. Make sure you know if your yacht insurance policy requires a deductible for salvage costs and that it provides protection up to the full value of the vessel and not just a percentage of its value. Most yacht insurance policies also recognize wreck removal as part of the salvage process and include it under the protection and indemnity limit.
Since marine assistance companies often provide both towing and salvage services, always ask how they are classifying the job before you accept aid. You should not make any assumptions and reach an understanding prior to them performing any action to help avoid any payment conflicts or legal issues that may arise later. You can also request a fixed price in writing or as an oral agreement with a witness present. Most importantly, if it is at all possible, you should gain approval from your yacht insurance company prior to contracting any salvage services.
If you have questions about salvage and towing or would like your yacht insurance policy reviewed contact the specialists at Global Marine Insurance where leading providers compete to get you the best coverage possible. Call 1-800-748-0224 for personal service or get a quick yacht insurance quote online.