For many recreational boaters, getting the right salvage and repair help for a damaged boat after a hurricane is difficult.
Some insurance programs like BoatUS will arrange and pay to have their insured's boats salvaged and other insurers will at least provide some assistance, but those without insurance don't have anyone to lean on.
For those going it alone, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has some tips to find the right salvor and to help get the repairs done right.
Stay away from the inexperienced: "The decision to hire a salvage contractor or repairer should be based on skill and experience and not on a low-ball price," BoatUS Director of Damage Avoidance Bob Adriance said. "Too often after a hurricane, fly-by-night operators come in and do more harm than good -- this isn't the time to hire someone cruising the beach in a tow truck. Ask them how long they have been doing business and for references -- and call them."
Check out the BoatUS complaint database: The free online BoatUS Consumer Protection Database at www.BoatUS.com/consumerdatabase is the only source of consumer complaints and safety information reported by boat owners, the U.S. Coast Guard, manufacturers, marine surveyors and marine technicians. Before you hire someone, check to see if they made list.
It's the "association": There are some telltale indicators that show a business is in it for the long haul, which could ultimately be good for the consumer. One indicator is a company having professional membership in a trade association, acknowledging codes of ethics and embracing standards. Boat owners setting out for salvage and repairs can check out these websites to help find service providers in their area:
American Boat & Yacht Council (www.abycinc.org): ABYC develops safety standards for the repair and maintenance of boats. Boat owners seeking hurricane repairs are strongly encouraged to take their business to shops that follow ABYC standards.
C-PORT, The Conference of Professional Operators for Response Towing (www.cport.us): C-PORT, whose members include salvage and on-the-water towing companies, establishes standards for professionalism, training and good business practices.
American Boat Builders & Repairers Association (www.abbra.org): ABBRA is the association for small boat building and repair shops dedicated to professional development, training and education.
Local Marine Trades organizations: Many regions have marine trade associations that have members - local businesses - offering a range of services.
About BoatUS: BoatUS is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters providing its over half million members with government representation, helpful services such as on-the-water boat towing, roadside assistance and specialized boat insurance programs, boating safety, damage avoidance, clean water and consumer advocacy efforts as well as money-saving benefits such as fuel discounts and a fishing tournament incentive program for anglers.