Tow Insurance: A Worthy Investment, or Waste of Money?

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tow boat

This Port Aransas tow boat could save the day, if your boat breaks down.

I was at a boat show recently helping a friend pick out a new boat, when we walked by the BoatU.S. display. I asked him if he’d thought about joining BoatU.S. and getting towing insurance, and his response was not at all what I expected. He said “Why do I need towing insurance? I’m buying a new boat, so it’ll never break down… right?”

Now, it’s completely true that today’s marine powerplants are far more reliable than those we grew up with. Still, though, we’re talking about boats. Things break. Things go wrong. And it’s quite a comforting feeling to know that if you need to call for a tow, you won’t have to shell out thousands of dollars—which can easily be the bill, especially when you’re fishing far from home.

Full disclosure: as well as being Texas Fish & Game’s Boating Editor, I’m also BoatU.S. Magazine’s Electronics Editor. So yes, I do have a relationship with the BoatU.S. folks. I’ve also been a paying customer for over 25 years, both for towing assistance and trailering assistance. But I’m not going to tell you which towing service to insure with, nor am I about to say that any one is better than the other. The point I do want to get across—one which I made very clear to my friend—is that having tow insurance is invaluable. Not only does it cover the cost of the tow, but it also gives you some serious piece of mind.

tow boat

This Port Aransas tow boat could save the day, if your boat breaks down.

In all these years, I’ve only had to use the insurance twice. Once when my steering system broke in a big way, and the other time when my trailer lost a bearing on a Sunday and I didn’t have a spare on-hand. I haven’t done the math, but financially, I’m pretty sure the insurance people are still coming out ahead. That doesn’t even matter to me, not one iota. Just knowing I had a flat-bed coming at a moment’s notice when my pride and joy was sitting on the side of the highway was enough to make all that insurance worthwhile. And when we were turning circles with a busted steering system, trying to muscle the engine around with brute force, being able to call for a tow without having to worry about the expense probably saved me hours of wrestling. If I had to pay full price for that tow, well, let’s just say I would have worked a lot longer and harder to make muscling it around work—and in case you’re wondering, it’s shockingly difficult to turn an outboard that’s in gear, even at slow speed, without a steering system.

So: is towing insurance a worthy investment? Or is it a waste of money? I’m betting that the experienced boaters out there already know the answer. And for you new boat owners, I have just one piece of advice: don’t walk so fast, as you pass by the BoatU.S. display.

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