Narrowboating on the UK’s canals and rivers is a great way to escape from the stresses of everyday life, and the last thing you want to think about after buying your dream craft is to wade through paperwork. But buying narrowboat insurance should be top of your list – and here’s why.

No narrowboat insurance, no use

To use your narrowboat on most waterways in the UK requires that you obtain a licence from the Canal and River trust. But to do that, you’ll need to prove that you have at least £1 million pounds in third party liability cover. So without insurance, you won’t be able to use your boat on most UK rivers and canals.

Even if you find somewhere to use your boat, most marinas and many mooring operators’ small print asks that you have third-party cover, leaving you vulnerable in the event of an incident.

However experienced you are, other river and canal users – especially chartered boats – can cause damage even when you’re not there, which could curtail your time on the water and even put your boat out of action. What aspects then should you be looking for your boat insurer to cover?


Should you break down, suffer mechanical failure or sustain damage to your boat, you will need help salvaging your boat should the worst happen and she springs a leak.


While some areas are worse than others, it’s an unfortunate fact of life that our canals are not crime-free idylls. Your narrowboat could easily have thousands of pounds-worth of personal and other equipment on board – and with the best will in the world, it’s hard to stop a determined thief. Make sure your insurance has the option to cover equipment and also personal effects.

Damage to locks and machinery

There is many millions of pounds-worth of machinery, including locks and other infrastructure, along the UK’s canals – and many of these are ageing and vulnerable to damage. Make sure you’re covered in case of accidental damage!

Personal Accident cover

The very nature of boating on canals and rivers comes with the risk of personal injury, whether through slips and falls, or more specific boating injuries. Insurance cover should get you back and enjoying your time on the water as quickly as possible.

Public Liability

Accidents happen, but with the rise in litigation in recent years you could find yourself in a vulnerable position should you or your boat cause an accident or if anything else should happen that involves you or your boat.

Get some peace of mind and get narrowboat insurance today!

Please note the information provided on this page should not be taken as advice and has been written as a matter of opinion. For more on insurance cover and policy wording, see our homepage.