Wednesday, April 25, 2007

NBOA Alive and well

With so much of our industry focused on membership towing programs that support branded towboats, I thought it would be good to remind everyone that one company is still around that has no towboats. The National Boat Owners Association (NBOA) continues to offer towing memberships under a "reimbursement for fees" type membership.

Reimbursement for fees (a term I made up and herein after will be known as R4F) memberships act like an actual insurance policy. NBOA members have to pay for assistance services out of pocket, and then NBOA will reimburse their member up to the limits of the policy, with certain restrictions.

NBOA members are to pay the tower at the time of service and NBOA will reimburse the member for covered towing services provided.

NBOA offers "Full coverage" for towing and assistance for $65/year, which sounds like a bargain compared to the SeaTow or Boat/US. There is a tiny catch, though. To become a member, you have to prove that you have boat insurance with a minimum of $200 of towing coverage:
All members are required to present proof of marine insurance that includes towing coverage of not less than $200per incident. Upon receipt of dues payment and proof of insurance, NBOA will activate towing coverage benefit.

I point this detail out not to accuse NBOA of using some sinister fine print loophole, which they are not: in numerous places on the website, NBOA makes it perfectly clear that their towing membership only covers costs beyond what the marine insurance covers. Indeed, anyone applying for NBOA membership would have to be "underway and not under command" to misconstrue this provision of the membership. I pointed this out just to remind everyone that there are other business models out there, and they each may have advantages and disadvantages.

If you are a service provider, you may want to familiarize yourself with the NBOA Terms & Conditions. (Its actually pretty well written and easy to understand) I don't know how many members they have, but you might be lucky enough to service one, at the full, non-member retail rate for your area of course...

Final note: I couldn't help but noticing one piece of fine print at the bottom of the home page:


So, perhaps not so much a boat owners association as they are a boat insurance company?