Owning a narrowboat is a great investment but like all investments, it needs protection through insurance to safeguard you, your family/guests and your assets. All boats have inherent risks, although the risks for a narrowboat are reasonably low due to the calm nature of canal waters and the low speeds of travel.
The Canal and River Trust require that narrowboat owners have third party liability insurance covering a minimum of £2,000,000. Third party insurance covers the other party who may suffer loss, injury or damage as a result of your actions. Canal boating is a fairly safe activity and accident rates are low, but insurance gives you extra peace of mind that you're covered for the worst case scenario.
Prices for basic liability cover start at around £100 per annum. Policy costs peak at around £500 per annum if you include all the benefits that fully comprehensive cover offers, whether you're on board your boat or not.
It's important to decide along with your insurer what level of cover will best meet your needs. One level up from basic third party liability cover is an insurance that includes third party, fire and theft. Insurance for mechanical problems and weather-related damage (such as freezing motors) can also be obtained as an extra, as can accidental damage cover. Some narrow boat insurance policies include cover for specific parts and accessories that come fitted to the boat as standard (not necessarily those that have been retro-fitted). Your insurer will be able to confirm the finer details with you. Insuring your narrowboat contents is another popular option. It is possible that your home contents insurance policy might extend to this, so check with your existing home insurer firsts.
Most narrowboat policies have the option to include breakdown and rescue cover as part of the package. This may be useful if you fear the implications of a breakdown and getting stranded, no matter what age your boat is. Check with the insurer of your choice to make sure the level of breakdown cover matches your needs and expectations. Otherwise, a more specific package will be available through an independent boating breakdown organisation.
Should you choose to live full-time on board your narrowboat, dedicated insurance policies will cover you and are tailored to suit your needs and lifestyle. Such policies cover the specific risks associated with living on board a narrowboat, as well when you're away. Special contents insurance is available for valuable items, such as laptops, jewellery and other personal effects.
Just like for any insurance policy, you'll pay more for a lower excess and also for protecting your no-claims bonus. There are many options to consider when taking out narrowboat insurance so take your time and choose the best insurer for you.