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Boat Owners Want Warning Of Labor Costs From Salvage Companies

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MGN Online

Boat recovery potentially costs owners up to the same value of their vessels. Boat owners in Florida want to receive a warning from salvage companies informing them the possible labor prices could be expensive.

Eric Hull is a boat owner from Tampa. When his boat started leaking as he traveled from West Palm Beach to Key West for a boating tournament, he called Sea Tow for assistance. The company wanted him to sign a salvage form but Hull wanted to contact his insurance company first. The insurance company told him he should sign the form. Then Hull got his bill.

“I had no idea that this kind of practice went on. And I was shocked when I found that I received a bill for $30,000 for less than five minutes worth of work," Hull says, "so when I talked to my wife, I said I wanted to do something to help all the boaters of Florida.”

Rep. Dana Young (R-Tampa) is behind a bill requiring salvage companies to provide consumers with potential cost disclosure, before they sign a contract.

Young says, "The charges that you are about to receive will not be based on compensation for services performed. But instead will be based on a variety of factors and could be up to the value of your boat."

But Tina Cardone, the executive director of Conference of Professional Operators for Response Towing (C-PORT) says the bill is unnecessary since salvors already disclose the potential cost to the owner.

"This proposed legislation we feel is in search of a problem that does not exist," Cardone says, "salvors already have established policies and procedures of operational transparency. This includes clearly informing a boater that a job is a salvage and offering a salvage contract. That contract includes a number of safe guards for boaters that you’ve heard talked about today, it already exists."

Supporters of the bill argue the measure will better inform boat owners and it will help avoid unexpected charges for boat towing and boat repair.