A Buyer's Guide To Narrowboat Insurance

Whether it’s your first time buying insurance, or you’re simply looking to switch insurance companies, it’s important to be aware of the benefits to narrowboat insurance, what a typical policy includes and what to look out for. Our guide will break down all the elements you need to consider for adequate cover before making your decision.

Do I need narrowboat insurance?

Whilst boat insurance isn’t a legal requirement for those spending their time onboard, as a narrowboat owner, you will most likely be navigating the UK inland waterways and therefore it is a legal requirement to have boat insurance alongside a boating licence from Canal & River Trust.

In general, it’s important to have insurance for a number of reasons. Having a policy means you and your vessel are more likely covered* year-round should the worst happen. Depending on the insurance provider you choose, your policy could include a range of other features.

*It is always important to check your policy wording for exclusions and limitations and what you are covered for.

Factors to consider when choosing the right insurance policy for you...


  • Cruising range - Some providers limit you to non-tidal waters only, but you may require tidal waters for access.
  • Houseboat use - If your narrowboat is your primary residence, it is important you advise your insurance company as the policy may have exclusions surrounding this.
  • Personal property/Contents - Check the extent of the cover provided for personal belongings and ensure this is adequate for your needs. You may require all risks cover similar to a household policy if you are living onboard permanently.
  • Single-handed use - Some insurers penalise this by excluding single-handed use or charging extra.

What am I covered for?

The type of cover you’ll receive will ultimately depend upon the insurance provider you choose, however, there are certain types of cover you’ll likely receive:

  • Accidental damage
  • Latent defects
  • Negligence
  • Theft
  • Damage through malicious acts
  • Freezing
  • Contents cover
  • Third-party liability

Some of these cover items may be subject to limitations and you should always read the policy wording carefully. 

What are the benefits of narrowboat insurance?

If you choose to purchase insurance with GJW Direct, your policy will include membership to River Canal Rescue who provides inland waterways breakdown cover in the UK. They are equipped with the most up-to-date mapping technology and tools needed to deliver an efficient breakdown and recovery service, ensuring policyholders’ complete peace of mind when they are on the water.

Also, when insuring your narrowboat with GJW Direct,  you’ll be able to sign up to MyBoat, a free digital boat management system giving you exclusive access to discounts and offers on a range of recognised marine brands, including Midland Chandlers, savvy navvy, RCR and BilgeAway.

Additional features include:

  • Agreed fixed value (as opposed to market value)
  • Medical expenses
  • Third party liability up to £5,000,000
  • Marina benefits
  • Protected no claims bonus
  • Automatic liveaboard cover

Once again, it is important to always ensure you read your policy wording as features can be subject to exclusions and limitations. 

What could the exclusions of my insurance be?

As with any insurance policy, there will be some limitations. Typical exclusions include damage caused by:

  • Fraud practised against you
  • Wear and tear
  • Insects, marine borers, barnacles, marine growth, fungi or molluscs
  • Corrosion, rust or oxidation that should have been picked up during servicing
  • Rot, mildew, dampness or weathering
  • Osmosis
  • War, Civil Disturbance and Terrorism
  • Wilful Misconduct

That’s why ensuring proper maintenance is conducted on a regular basis will allow you to avoid issues like these becoming an issue in the future.

What are my obligations?

As standard, when you take out insurance you are obliged to ensure your craft is in good condition and regularly maintained. You’ll also need to give your policy provider details of any incidents, accidents and potential claims as soon as they happen. 

Other obligations include:

  • Keeping all your information up to date and accurate throughout the life of the policy
  • Meet the security requirements that apply to the policy
  • Tell the insurance provider if you sell your narrowboat
  • Make the required payments
  • Tell the insurance provider if you intend to make any structural alterations to your vessel

Where can I buy narrowboat insurance?

GJW Direct offer narrowboat insurance with a range of features. With over 195 years of experience in marine insurance, so you can rest assured you’re in safe hands with a team of experts on hand to help you set up your policy and answer any questions you might have. Discover more information about GJW Direct's narrowboat and barge policy here.

Are you looking for first-time insurance or thinking of switching insurers? Get a quote for narrowboat insurance with us in minutes.

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