Cover Charge

Protect yourself by knowing your warranty inside and out.


When you buy a used boat, you often also buy a warranty, which can get rid of headaches and heartburn all at once. But you will want to know what kind of protection you have and what kind of protection you need before the deal is done. Extended manufacturers' warranties and aftermarket policies all complicate the situation. Fortunately, your broker is there to help.

"Whether warranties are carried over from one owner to another, on a used [boat] is typically specified in the manufacturer's limited warranty and that would vary by manufacturer," says Hallie Brown, operations manager of Gulf Coast Hatteras in Orange Beach, Alabama. "But there are extended warranties out there available for purchase on used boats."

The challenge is to know what coverage is in place, and if you're comfortable at that level or if you want to add additional coverage. Your broker should be happy to assist you.

"The perception of those warranties is very different than a lot of the fine print," says Tim Jones, general sales manager of Gulf Coast Hatteras. "You have to be very, very careful of which one you buy, who you buy it from, and the language that's written in it as far as what's covered as far as maximum allowances and maximum caps on coverages."

Engine warranties are critical: They cover the most complex and important parts of a yacht's systems. "Most of the engine manufacturers have a five-year warranty [that diminishes over time]: two years full service and then after that you pay for labor, they pay for parts," says John Novak, director of the Sunseeker Club in New Rochelle, New York. "It's just a diminishing warranty. If you blow an engine up, you're looking at maybe a $200,000 motor, but you're just paying for the labor."

Warranty terms vary by engine brand, but many require a proper engine survey from a technician trained by the manufacturer.

"You have a surveyor and you have an engine surveyor, and I'm not talking about a guy who says 'Yeah, I know about engines,'" says Novak. "If you buy a boat with MAN engines, you have MAN [send a technician to] survey the motors. Basically, you want a surveyor that's familiar with the manufacturer of the boat as well. Get the best, it's a big purchase." The age of the engines and the number of hours they carry will also have an effect on the kind of warranty that's available.

"Typically if it's over two years old, they have a set criteria of sending a certified tech in to do an extensive check of the equipment," says Jones. "It's usually handled through a local, authorized service center."

The bottom line: An authorized engine survey-whether a warranty is involved or not-is always a good thing, and worth the expense.

Engines are just one part of the whole that is your new yacht. To maximize your enjoyment, learn what your protection is, and ask your broker for help if anything is unclear.

"They need to know what they're paying for," says Brown. "Read it, understand it, read the fine print and ask questions, and know on the front end what you're getting into and what to expect from that warranty and that coverage."

Gulf Coast Hatteras, (251) 980-2220; ****

The Sunseeker Club, Inc., (914) 235-8400; ****

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