The difference between getting towed due to an on-water breakdown and being pulled off a sandbar because your boat is hard aground may not seem like much when you're sitting in your cockpit, but it can be huge when it's time to pay the commercial tower who responded. While the average coastal tow typically costs about $750, salvage costs can easily hit five figures. The average boater may not know which service — towing or salvage — is being offered, especially if the weather is bad and stress levels are high when a towboat shows up.
But the question as to whether something's a tow or a salvage has one easy answer. It doesn't matter, if you're covered. If you have unlimited on-the-water towing service, and an all-risk boat insurance policy with hull coverage, like most policies we recommend , whether your boat is towed or salvaged, someone else picks up the tab.
Towing service gets you back to the dock if you break down (depending on your selected service level), while your insurance policy covers salvage costs.
Having both in force takes the worry out of the towing-or-salvage determination.