Club Marine Assist is one of the most innovative ideas in recreational boat insurance. And, like all major innovations, explaining it is harder than actually using it.

Since its launch in 2009, thousands of Club Marine policy holders have taken advantage of the Club Marine Assist program. And as the numbers continue to grow, Club Marine Assist is becoming a hot topic of conversation at boat shows, fishing tournaments and boat ramps across Australia.

But what is Club Marine Assist? The answer depends on just who you ask. Some Club Marine members use it as a concierge service, organising hotels and restaurant reservations. Others use it as a weather service, checking tide times and forecasts before they head out. And quite a few have used it in emergency situations, during on-water engine breakdowns, on-road towing mishaps or when they have experienced car trouble at the boat ramp.

Officially, Club Marine Assist is referred to as ‘a package of around-the-clock services administered by Mondial Assistance – a global provider of roadside assistance. Here’s how it’s defined in the brochure:

“Club Marine Assist is a portal for members to contact Club Marine 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Club Marine Assist offers assistance, directions and the kind of personal service never before seen in the Australian recreational boating market.”

Which sounds great – but also a bit vague. So, let’s start with what we know for sure. One: it’s free, and two: more and more Club Marine members are taking advantage of it. According to Michael Huth, Strategic Account Manager for Mondial Assistance, Club Marine Assist took over 4000 calls from Club Marine members in 2010. This year, the service is on track to take over 6500 calls.

While the number of calls spiked dramatically in the aftermath of the Brisbane floods and Cyclone Yasi, Huth says calls are coming in from all over Australia for all kinds of reasons. “Many of the calls were about real emergency situations,” Huth says. “Others are just because it’s convenient for Club Marine members to use 1 300 00 CLUB as a simple information service.”

Mondial Assistance is the world’s leading assistance company. It operates in 28 countries globally, helping more than 250 million people every year. Here in Australia, it provides specialty assistance services to almost one million people annually.

the more Club Marine Assist is used, the better it gets
the more Club Marine Assist is used, the better it gets

SMOOTH OPERATORS

It’s entirely reasonable to ask, when a Club Marine member phones Club Marine Assist, ‘Does a human answer the phone?’, and, ‘Where in the world is that human?’

“We have a roster of 120 operators between our Club Marine Assist centre in Brisbane and the satellite operation that runs out of the Gold Coast at Southport,” Huth says. “And I can confirm that all of our operators are people, based in Australia.”

Mondial Assistance operators have access to a sophisticated computer network, which includes an elaborate mapping system to identify businesses and emergency services in the vicinity of the caller’s location. As Huth explains, “If you have a problem with an outboard motor, during the discussion the operator retrieves information about outboard motors and repairers in the area. Or, if you need to have a taxi to meet you at the dock, our operators have that information, too.”

Huth says, as the number of calls from Club Marine members continues to grow, Mondial Assistance operators are addressing a wider variety of topics and developing a more flexible and complete solutions database. “Recently, some Club Marine members visiting Brisbane phoned for directions to the Tinnie and Tackle Show,” he says, “and there have been a few calls about the bag and size limits of fish species.”

In a way, the more Club Marine Assist is used, the better it gets. It’s like a perpetual feedback loop. As more Club Marine members ask a wider variety of questions, the better Club Marine Assist operators become at answering them, which leads to more members making use of the service.

So, what is Club Marine Assist? A water-borne road-side service? A super Google-type marine search engine? A personal crisis concierge? It’s all of that, and more. Club Marine Assist could be described as a emergency tow arranging, weather forecast providing, vehicle breakdown assistance service that offers directions, advice and recommendations to all Club Marine members who phone 1 300 00 CLUB. (That’s not bad, but it will never fit on those promotional Club Marine Assist life rings.)

At the end of the day, Club Marine Assist is unique. By developing this free service, Club Marine has set itself apart from every other recreational boat insurer in Australia. And while the other insurers scramble to catch up and define this innovative program, Club Marine members will continue to use it, expand it and reap the rewards.

Club Marine Assist explained

CEO Greg Fisher

Club Marine CEO Greg Fisher answers some frequently-asked questions about Club Marine Assist

The number of Club Marine members using Club Marine Assist continues to rise, but there still seems to be some confusion about how to take full advantage of it. Club Marine Magazine sat down with Club Marine’s CEO, Greg Fisher to get some answers. Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about Club Marine Assist, but were afraid to ask …

Club Marine Magazine: Is Club Marine Assist free?
Greg Fisher: Yes.
CMM: If I use Club Marine Assist, does that mean my premium is going to go up?
GF: No. CMM: So, is it like I’m filing a claim of some kind when I call Club Marine Assist?
GF: No, not at all. That’s a good question. It doesn’t cost you any more on your renewal, there’s no excess, no fee and no additional charges. It’s a free service, provided by Club Marine.
CMM: Even if I use Club Marine Assist 10 times a month, every month, for the next three years?
GF: Think of it this way: in an auto club membership, people pay a fee each year for road service. With Club Marine, this service comes with all policies, free of charge.
CMM: Why does Club Marine offer this service for free?
GF: This is our way of distinguishing ourselves from our competitors. We’re offering this product as something that’s unique to pleasure craft boating. No one else offers it.
CMM: If I use Club Marine Assist, does somebody from Club Marine look at my usage and do something to my policy?
GF: No. When someone rings 1300 00 CLUB, the phone call is handled by Mondial Assistance, which is a company that provides roadside assistance all over the world.
Club Marine hired Mondial Assistance to manage Club Marine Assist; they don’t know anything about your policy, they just need to know that you’re a Club Marine policy holder, and what they can do to help you.
All that Mondial Assistance tells us is a summary of services provided to Club Marine members. (“I lost my car keys,” or “My battery was flat” and so on.)
CMM: Say I call Club Marine Assist and ask for directions; would that be considered too trivial by the operators?
GF: No, of course not. That’s one of the easiest ways to take advantage of Club Marine Assist. Call up and say something like: “I’m doing an overnight cruise with my family and I’m in an area that is unfamiliar to me. Where can I get some fuel or ice?”
CMM: So, in that case, what sort of information could I expect?
GF: Coordinates, addresses, phone numbers. Everything you need to get you what you want.
CMM: And I can use this service even when I’m driving to the boat ramp?
GF: Yes. If you call and say, “My boat’s on the trailer and I’ve had a flat; can you come and get me a new tyre?” Club Marine Assist will handle that.
CMM: What other services are offered?
GF: Well, legal advice, or you can get a rental car lined up, or help to start your boat if you lose your keys.

Here’s the thing: boat owners are a pretty self-sufficient lot. But Club Marine Members should think of Club Marine Assist as one of the tricks they have up their sleeves to solve problems or just to make their time on the water a little easier.

The key is to simply call 1 300 00 CLUB and ask. Find out for yourself what Club Marine Assist can do for you.

 

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