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Sea Tow launches two new services

The assistance provider now offers marine insurance and financing to its members

The assistance provider now offers marine insurance and financing to its members

Sea Tow Services International, the marine assistance provider with the yellow towboats, has started offering marine insurance and boat loans to its members, moves that bring it up to speed with BoatU.S. in offering boaters an array of services.

“Our primary emphasis still is marine assistance,” says Sea Tow president Keith Cummings. “This is an additional benefit to membership. It increases the value of a Sea Tow membership.”

The insurance, called Sea Insure, is underwritten by AIG (New Hampshire Insurance Company) and is geared to boaters’ needs, Cummings says. It covers boat, liability, medical, salvage and personal property, as well as legal defense costs, fuel spills, marine environmental damage, scratching, denting, icing and freezing, and mechanical breakdown, according to Sea Tow. It also offers a separate $500 electronics deductible, and covers crew and charters on qualifying vessels.

Sea Tow also is launching Sea Loans in partnership with Russo Marine Financial Services of Stevensville, Md. Sea Loans waives application fees for Sea Tow members, whether they buy, sell, refinance or refit a boat, and when they close a loan with Sea Loans their next Sea Tow membership and boat documentation fees are free, according to Sea Tow. Members also can refer non-members for loans, and non-members get their first year’s Sea Tow membership for free, says Gerald Pitts, Russo’s national business manager. Pitts says loans are available to Sea Tow members nationwide, who can get approval over the phone in 10 minutes for loans up to $250,000. Eventually applicants will be able to file loan applications electronically at , Pitts says.

Cummings, who oversaw Sea Tow salvage operations after hurricanes Katrina, Ivan and Wilma, says what he saw then persuaded him that many boaters don’t know what their policies don’t cover until they file a claim. He says the company won’t offer liability coverage only, which some boaters think covers hull damage. It also won’t offer cheaper actual cash value insurance, which pays only the current market value of the boat when it’s a total loss. Sea Insure offers agreed-value policies, where insured and insurer agree up front on a boat’s insured value, or replacement-cost policies, which replace a totaled boat with a new one. “It’s not going to be the cheapest option out there,” he says.

Sea Insure plans to target New England, the West Coast and the Mid-

Atlantic regions first, then the Southeast, Cummings says. Sea Insure can write policies in Florida, where affordable insurance is hard to find because of the hurricane threat, but he says it must balance its Florida business with a larger portfolio of business in regions where hurricanes are less of a threat, he says.

“They [AIG] have given us capacity in Florida,” he says. “We can write in areas of Florida where others won’t.” Sea Tow began offering Sea Insure in late January.

Southold, N.Y.-based Sea Tow has 50,000 members and 110 towboat bases in the United States, Australia, Europe, Bahamas and Puerto Rico. For more information on Sea Insure, call (877) 568-1672 or visit For more on Sea Loans, call (410) 732-5626.