Help for Boaters Against Modern-Day ‘Pirates’

Marine towing and salvage

Help against modern-day piracy

As an avid recreational boat owner and sixth-generation Floridian, I know there’s no better way to enjoy our state’s spectacular waters than taking your boat out. Unfortunately, the fun of boating can be spoiled when predatory companies take advantage of boaters in distress.

Many boaters purchase memberships with maritime salvage and towing companies in order to be covered for helpful services. But sometimes these companies unfairly classify assistance as a “salvage claim,” a classification that lets them charge outrageous fees.

But here’s the real shocker: Because the cost isn’t disclosed up front, these companies can stick boat owners with extreme salvage fees after the fact. This is a case of powerful companies preying on the vulnerable and unsuspecting — an act of modern-day piracy. I recently met with a constituent who was charged $30,000 after one salvage company spent less than 10 minutes providing assistance.

To combat this, I have filed legislation that would provide added transparency to the marine towing and salvage business. The bill requires salvors to give boaters a written estimate before providing service. That’s it. We are essentially taking protections Floridians have come to expect on land — from auto mechanics, for example — and extending them to our state’s boaters.

The proposal will provide boaters with the peace of mind that comes from knowing they’ll be able to see how much they will be charged — before any assistance is actually provided.

It’s time we put a stop to the undisclosed fees charged by some of these companies, charges that may far exceed the value of the service provided. I am proud to take a stand with my fellow boaters and work to create a solution for these unjust acts. This legislation will give Florida boaters the clarity they need and the peace of mind they deserve.

Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa

The writer represents state Senate District 18 in Hillsborough County and serves as chair of the Senate Health Policy Committee.

Read the article in the Tampa Bay Times: Click Here