Salvage: Common Questions

Q: What does the term "Open Form" mean?

A: When the price or reward for the salvage effort is left open in the agreement, to be decided later when the boat is safe and the two parties can calmly discuss the matter, that agreement is referred to as an "open form salvage agreement".

Q: What if I don't sign a contract before my boat is salvaged? Can the salvor still make a claim?

A: It is important to understand that a contract is not necessary in order for a salvor to make a salvage claim. The salvor only needs to demonstrate that the effort was voluntary (he had no pre-existing obligation to come to the rescue), that he was successful and that the vessel rescued was in peril. This type of salvage claim is often referred to as "pure salvage".

Q: So what if you find yourself in the predicament of needing a salvor to save your boat, you allow him to do it and now he wants you to sign a contract. Do you have to sign any contract just because the salvor puts it in front of you?

A: NO. The salvor still has a pure salvage claim against your boat. He must have your permission to render assistance if you are on board (you can not be forced into anything), but the absence of a signed agreement may mean that there will be some convincing necessary to get the salvor to resolve any dispute by arbitration as opposed to litigation. There is always litigation in Federal Court and, while not the most economical method of resolving the value of a boats "rescue", it is tried and true.

Q: What if a salvor insists that you sign a Lloyd's Open Form Salvage Contract?

A: BoatUS recommends that you refuse. Offer as an alternative the attached BoatUS Open Form Salvage Contract, or simply suggest that the salvor does not need a contract at all. You can always refuse his services and call for other commercial assistance.

Q: If I'm insured with BoatUS, how can you help me if I'm in need of salvage assistance?

A: If you're insured in the BoatUS Insurance Program, call our 24 hr dispatch and we'll get you the assistance you need right away. We'll also take care of the negotiation with the salvor. Your BoatUS insurance policy also covers the full amount of the award, up to the boat's insured value.

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Salvage: Hard aground
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