The cost of insuring a canal boat

Your craft must also be insured, not just against damage to itself but more relevantly perhaps, against any damage that you cause to other boats or property. Without valid insurance, your boat licence also becomes invalid and (at least in the Canal & River Trust’s case), can lead to your boat being removed from the waterways although there tends to be a long, drawn-out legal process prior to this ultimately happening.

Insurance can vary in what it covers and it’s crucial to make sure you’re properly covered. For example, some canal boat insurance won’t encompass taking the boat onto more dangerous tidal waterways including some rivers or estuaries. This would be relevant if you wanted to boat on parts of the Thames for example, or to make the trip up the Ribble Link to the Lancaster canal, or to cross The Wash.

Just like car insurance, some policies cover you for third-party damage only, whilst more comprehensive insurance will pay out for damage to or theft from your own boat.

Once important aspect, not only if you are a novice, is cover against sinking. Even experienced boaters have been known to make a mistake and have their narrowboat sink in a lock. A moment’s inattention and it can happen all too easily, alas. Yet some insurance cover won’t pay the costs of lifting the boat off the canal bed and getting it taken away for repairs – yet you will be held liable by the CRT for doing so. Check your policy!

Canal boat insurance need not be expensive though; for my own narrowboat, it was around £130 per year, including some contents cover and sinking indemnity. My fibreglass cruiser cost much the same. As with most insurance, it really does pay to shop around for quotes as everyone’s fee will differ depending on their circumstances.