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Narrowboats (or canalboats if you prefer) are typically used on inland waterways such as canals and rivers, both as leisure craft for holidaymakers and also as a floating houseboat for those who enjoy travelling on these waterways.

Narrowboats are usually never over seven feet in width (hence the name) and are not to be confused with barges or widebeams, which are wider vessels and as such have restricted access to a number of waterways due to being too wide for many locks.

Residential Narrowboats

If you are living aboard your narrowboat, getting some residential narrowboat insurance is advised. Such policies will come with add-ons including contents cover, new-for-old replacement cover in case of damage or theft, and even cover against any equipment you may use should you have a business based on the boat.

Some brokers may also offer features which activate when you base your narrowboat permanently at a marina or at a specific location, which can include not affecting your no-claims bonus, allowing it to build even when stationary.

Modern narrowboats come with all the mod cons you’d normally find in a newly built house, indeed many narrowboat builders have different levels of models available, including some that are a little more luxurious.

We’ve put together a handy guide to researching and buying a narrowboat if you’re thinking of one day taking to the water with a new venture.

Can The Age Of My Boat Affect My Insurance?

There are a number of boat builders still active in the UK for those who want to buy more modern vessels, but there are also those enthusiasts who prefer to buy an older model of narrowboat.

When it comes to insuring your vessel, bear in mind that some policies will not cover wear and tear over time if you’ve got an older vessel, so keeping your boat well maintained is an essential part of ownership.

Older machinery can be more difficult to find replacement parts for, so age can certainly be a factor when determining the price of a narrowboat insurance policy.

Third party-only cover is still available on a narrowboat insurance policy, but seeing as a narrowboat is quite a large investment it can be worth paying for a comprehensive policy to ensure you are protected.

Narrowboat Insurance Features

There are a number of features which can be added to a narrowboat insurance policy, usually as add-ons to a fully comprehensive policy.

  • Hull cover – helps to cover you if the hull of your vessel is damaged by a third party or in an accident
  • Engine cover – helps to cover engine breakdown and also if your engine is stolen (somehow)
  • Failure of machinery cover - depending on the age of your boat and the equipment on it, this feature helps to cover machinery such as generator, alternator and gearbox against breakdown
  • Personal accident cover – whilst narrowboats are slow moving, accidents can still happen, so its often best to protect yourself against potential accidents with some personal accident cover
  • Third-party liability – helps to cover you against any claims made against you by those who suffer injury as a result of your vessel
  • Breakdown and recovery assistance – funnily enough, there IS a breakdown service – known as River Canal Rescue – that helps to get your vessel moving again should you suffer engine breakdown. Ask your broker if cover is included in your policy, or whether they can offer any discounts.
  • Contents cover – helps to protect the contents of your narrowboat against theft and damage as a result of an accident

What Organisations Are There For Advice?

The narrowboating community is vast and varied, with many enthusiasts coming together while docked at marinas, where you’ll find a harbourmaster and various organisations based there who can help with any queries you might have.

Membership to associations such as the Inland Waterways Association, the National Association of Boat Owners (NABO) or the Residential Boat Owners’ Association (RBOA) can be useful for both a source of advice and for insurance premiums, as some brokers may offer discounts for members.

Looking to take to the water? Here at Quotiva let us search for a narrowboat insurance quote to suit you. Fill out a few details and we’ll use our network of brokers to find you the best deal and keep you afloat.


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