Should you buy an extended warranty
when you purchase your boat? It’s the
question everyone asks, but it might
not provide the full coverage you are
hoping for. See what you need to know:
the gelcoat and hull laminate on boats kept
in the water, and many warranties specifically exclude blisters. If blisters are covered,
there are usually limitations. For example,
Chaparral’s warranty says that blisters in the
laminate are only covered if they are larger
than 1/8-inch in diameter and greater than
1/16-inch in depth. Blister coverage is often
prorated, decreasing 25 percent per year.
Some manufacturers require the owner to
pay for a costly barrier coat to maintain coverage if the boat is left in the water. Sea Ray,
on the other hand, prohibits anything other
than antifouling paint to be applied in order
to keep the hull and blister warranty in effect.
Before applying any coating to your hull,
check the specifics of your warranty.
band and wife), it’s assumed to be used commercially and the warranty is void. Check
with the manufacturer if you’re not sure.
Federal documentation of ownership is not
considered commercial use. Racing, lack of
proper maintenance, damage, abuse, installing too large an engine, and overloading the
boat are all legitimate grounds for voiding
Incidentally, manufacturers often demand
that a new owner fill out a registration form
within 15 days of purchase to validate the
warranty. Federal law does not require doing
this; however, it’ll likely make the paperwork
process easier when repairs are needed, and
it also gives the manufacturer contact information in case of a recall.
“Is my warranty transferable?” Many
manufacturers allow the remainder of their
new boat warranty to be transferred — a
strong reselling point — but only to the
second owner. Hull warranties are usually
transferable to the second owner as well,
but beware that on both warranties, the
clock starts ticking the day the boat is delivered to the first owner. Some manufacturers
charge up to $1,000 to transfer a warranty.
Usually blister warranties aren’t transferable. If the boat has a lifetime hull warranty,
it usually won’t transfer to the second owner.
In any case, manufacturers have specific procedures that have to be followed to transfer
a warranty, and failure to dot all the i’s can
cause grief for the second owner.
though, a dealer, especially a
smaller one, can’t
take care of complex or difficult
repairs, and the
make arrangements for a non-dealer shop to do
the work and pay
them directly. But
must authorize it
before any work is started, or the owner will
be responsible for the bill.
For major hull repairs, such as cracks
or delamination, manufacturers will often
want the boat returned to them. Be careful
here. The Consumer Protection Bureau has
received reports that some manufacturers
aren’t willing to pay for the transportation,
or that they keep the boat for weeks. You
may be able to negotiate the transportation costs. Be sure to get in writing what
the repair entails and how long the factory
plans to keep your boat. Note that warranties specifically exclude costs for loss of use,
and you’ll still have to pay loan payments
and insurance if your boat is out of service.
When buying a boat long-distance, try
to arrange with the manufacturer to have
the warranty work done by a dealer that’s
closer to home.
“What isn’t covered in my warranty?”
Most companies don’t cover rainwater leakage through biminis or even hatches and
portlights. Window breakage, stress cracks,
and bottom paint are usually excluded.
Corrosion and deterioration of underwater
metal are almost always excluded.
“My manufacturer was bought by
another company. Will they honor my
warranty?” Probably not. Often, when
builders go out of business, the assets, but
not the liabilities, of the company will be sold
to a new corporation, even if the name is the
same and the new company keeps building
the same boat. Not buying the liabilities frees
them from having to honor warranties.
“Can I take my boat to a local shop
for warranty work?” Usually not.
Manufacturers have agreements with their
dealers to pay them for hourly warranty
work and parts. Dealers are factory-trained
and theoretically know the ins and outs
of manufacturers’ boats best. Sometimes
“What can void my warranty?” Taking a
boat to a non-authorized dealer for warranty
repairs will usually void the warranty and
leave you on the hook for the bill, unless it’s
been approved ahead of time. However, normal maintenance performed by a non-dealer
shop (or by you) won’t void your warranty as
long as the materials used (oils, lubes, and
parts) are manufacturer-approved. If a dealer
doesn’t perform the maintenance, make sure
you keep accurate records in case you need
Commercial use of a boat usually voids
the manufacturer’s warranty and using an
LLC to buy a boat could be construed as
commercial use. Some manufacturers, such
as Nitro, state that if a boat is registered to
a corporation, or multiple persons (not hus-
In the end, it’s better not to rely on a
salesman’s assurance that “everything will
be taken care of.” Read the warranty or call
the manufacturer to find out for certain.
Warranties may be hard to wade through,
but to head off surprises in the future,
spend a little quality time with yours. And if
the promises unravel? Contact the BoatU.S.
Consumer Protection Bureau for help.
CONTACT THE BOATU.S. CONSUMER PROTECTION BUREAU AT
(703) 461-2856 OR EMAIL CONSUMERPROTECTION@BOATUS.COM