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So, what's a narrowboat?
A narrowboat is typically used on inland waterways -- both rivers and canals -- for enjoyment by owners and holiday makers. Typically these boats have a maximum speed of 8 knots and unsurprisingly, a key feature of the boat is its width which is never usually over seven feet. Occasionally narrowboats are confused with barges and widebeams, but these are usually wider vessels and thus have a restricted access to a number of waterways due to being too wide for many locks
Occasionally, a narrowboat may be also be called a house boat. Although they are not necessarily typical of houseboats in other countries, many people do use narrowboats for residential purposes in the UK and thus their is a distinction between narrowboat and residential narrowboat insurance.
What insurance is essential for my narrowboat?
Of course, insuring your narrowboat fully is a personal decision, but it doesn't take long to see how much sense it makes. Your narrowboat is an investment, why let an accident or a theft leave you unnecessarily out of pocket? Insurance always seems like an unwanted cost, until the untoward has happened and you're relieved that you took out a policy after all.
However, whilst comprehensive insurance cover is not necessary, it is essential that you have Narrowboat Third Party Liability insurance if you want to use your boat on the inland Waterway systems (which you most likely do!). This third party insurance will protect your from any damage caused to persons on property whilst you're using your narrowboat. Thankfully, as narrowboats are slow vessels and have little space to gather speed, accidents are rare and thus this liability cover won't break the bank. It's important to make sure that this cover is also provided whilst your moored up -- this is called mooring liability cover.
What should I look for if I want comprehensive narrowboat cover?
If you're looking for comp narrow boat cover, it may be worth looking at the following features in a policy:
- Hull cover
This will protect you from having to make a large pay out should your hull be damaged in an accident or by a third party. As many narrowboat hulls are made of steel, hopefully this event won't arise. Please note that generally insurance brokers will include some exclusions in their policies -- most will not cover wear and tear or corrosion in a policy. Also some brokers may require that your boat undergoes a survey before they offer you insurance -- this is to check the value of the boat and to find any existing issues with the hull and other boat features.
- Engine cover
Engine cover will protect you if your engine is damaged accidentally or stolen. Buying a new engine could leave you out of pocket, let alone in a inconvenient situation should you need to move your boat on.
If you're using your narrowboat for residential purposes it's important to let your broker know as it will often have an impact on your premium. Failing to alert your broker may also invalidate your insurance policy. If you are using your narrow boat as a home you'll probably want some contents cover to make sure your personal effects are protected from loss.
Whilst it's likely you will be staying on inland waterways and canals whilst in your narrowboat, it's possible that you may need access to interconnecting tidal waters at some point, even if it's just to access additional waterways. It's essential to make sure you're insured whilst on these waters.
When discussing your narrowboat insurance with your marine brokers, make sure you know exactly what they can offer you and what you're covered for. Occasionally discounts are given to members of the Inland Waterways Association, but it's essential that your policy offers the cover you need, regardless of price.