Narrowboat Insurance Explained

We provide specialist cover for the narrow boats and barges which travel up and down our inland water ways. This article explains the different types of craft we can cover as well as explaining a few key elements which make up our narrowboat insurance policy.


What is Narrowboat Insurance and why do I need it?

Narrowboat insurance aims to protect you, your craft and other users of the water ways. It does this by providing third party liability cover, cover for various parts of your craft which might get damaged or malfunction and cover for you and your passengers in the form of personal accident cover.

Towergate Narrowboat Insurance has been in existence in various guises since 1978 when it was first developed by Michael Stimpson in association with Royal Insurance. Initially it aimed to cover residential craft and ex-working boats but has since developed to cater for almost any type of craft on the waterways. Depending on how much cover you’d like, Towergate offer four levels of cover (bronze to platinum) plus the option to add River and Canal Rescue service to your policy*. We can also provide residential narrowboat insurance as an add on to our gold and platinum policies which will provide ‘replacement as new’ contents cover** and includes personal liability cover up to £2,000,000.

*£45 if included in platinum policy, £65 to add to all other levels of cover
**Exclusions apply – please check policy documents for more details

The benefits of narrowboat insurance explained

We offer four different levels of narrowboat insurance cover. The chart below best shows what each option includes:

Third party
Fire, lightning, explosion  
Theft, malicious damage or Vandalism  
Weather events  
Freezing of machinery  
Accidental loss or damage    
Personal accident      
Breakdown and recovery assistance      

Narrowboat insurance features in more detail

Third party liability – This is included as standard across all levels of cover. The cover limit is £3,000,000 and there’s no excess to pay should you need to claim.

  • Personal Accident cover (standard on platinum cover) – As narrow boats don’t go all that fast, the risk of injury is smaller than if you owned say a jet ski or a power boat. Never the less, accidents can still happen so it’s always a good idea to have this cover in place.

  • Canal and River Rescue – If you find yourself broken down or in a tough spot, River and Canal Rescue can be called out to help. Towergate have an arrangement with River and Canal rescue where by our policy holders can add break down assistance to their policy. Platinum policy holders have this included as standard, all other cover levels can add it for £65.

  • We won’t charge you excess on any claim made while it’s moored or stored in a marinaProtected no claims bonus (gold and platinum level) – Take out our highest level of cover to have your no claims bonus protected year on year. Rather than total loss of no claims you will only step back two years but once you have achieved 25% discount your no claims will not be affected at all (No more than two claims per year).

  • Marina benefits (platinum level cover only) – If you permanently moor your boat on a marina berth or keep it ashore at the same location, we won’t charge you excess on any claim made while it’s moored or stored. This also won’t affect your no-claims bonus.  

  • Failure of machinery (on craft less than three years old, platinum level only) - This feature covers your engine gearbox, generator and alternator. Should any of these break down and your craft is under three years old, you can claim back the cost to repair them.

  • Legal expenses cover – Should you be involved in legal action either as a plaintiff or as a defendant, our legal expenses cover can help with your legal fees up to £100,000 for legal proceedings relating to you and your narrow boat.

Other types of narrowboat insurance

Residential cover - If the craft is your prime and sole place of residence then the Gold and Platinum versions of the policy can include our residential extension option.

This includes Personal Liability Insurance of £2,000,000 for claims made against you or a member of your family permanently living with you and Replacement as New cover for the contents of the craft insured under the policy covering all your household goods, personal effects and valuables kept on board the craft. There is a single item limit of £2,000 for any one item or collection unless disclosed to underwriters and high risk items should not exceed one third of the total sum insured.

In addition you can add business equipment kept on board up to £3,000.

Items taken off the boat

  • Personal possessions (Jewellery, photographic equipment, sports equipment and clothing and personal effects) with a single item limit of £1,000
  • This section excludes items over £1,000, mobile telephones and lap top or tablet computers but these can also be insured as separate items
  • Pedal cycle insurance is also available

Fitting out - Many boat owners fit out a boat having purchased a hull, superstructure and engine. Cover is required on a rising basis as the craft is fitted out and here the premium is based on the rising value throughout the fit out period

Tips to get the best value and cover from your insurance

Moor in a marina – If you moor in an approved marina, we won’t charge any excess on claims involving loss whilst the boat is in the marina. Let us know which marina you moor in to claim this benefit.

Get a survey of your craft completed if it’s over 25 years old - We are happy to consider craft of any age but for craft over 25 years old, evidence of the craft’s condition must be supplied. This can either be a full out-of-the-water survey or copies of the Boat Safety Certificate and a hull inspection.

Narrowboat insurance exclusions explained

It’s very important to read your policy documents in detail to understand what’s covered and what might void your cover. Listed below are a few key exclusions you definitely need to know about.

Personal accident cover won’t cover individuals over the age of 76 –If you’re over the age of 76 and you have an accident, the personal accident aspect of our cover will not apply. Other cover relating to the craft however, is not affected by your age. Personal accident cover is only available on private pleasure craft policies. Not included on residential or commercial policies.

Wear and tear not covered – If your craft is under three years old, we can provide mechanical failure cover (see above). Wear and tear however, is not covered at all.

Corrosion – Rust is fairly unavoidable keep an eye out for it and try to prevent it before it causes serious damage as unfortunately, it isn’t covered by our policy.

Loss of value due to age, use or repair – Depreciation is not covered by our narrow boat policy.

Replacements beyond the sums insured on your policy – This policy works on a market value basis. Therefore it’s important to know the true replacement value of your narrow boat. You will be unable to claim for a replacement narrow boat above the value you give us. If you’re unsure of the value of your narrow boat, a marine surveyor will be able to make an assessment and give you an accurate value.

Insurance jargon buster

Sometimes insurance can be a bit like a foreign language. Here’s our run down of a few words and phrases which may be a little confusing.

  • Indemnity - Putting you back in the same position they were in before the loss

  • Public liability - Your ‘responsibility’ for the wellbeing of other members of the public and their property. In insurance, this refers to the cover given to compensate legal costs and compensation payments resulting from injuries or property damage to others, which was caused by you.

  • Excess - A payment you make towards a claim on your policy.

  • New for old policies - You will be covered for replacement as new. If we cannot replace your yacht with the same model we will work with you to find the best equivalent.

  • Market Value - The cost of replacing your yacht at its present value - taking into consideration; year of manufacture, type, wear and tear.

  • Policy schedule - Your insurance document outlining the period during which your policy is valid

For more insurance terms explained, please visit our insurance glossary page.

How Towergate can help you

Not only do we know insurance inside out, we also know the items and lifestyles we insure inside out. All our advisers are trained to find the most appropriate cover for your craft.

It’s also important to us that you receive a friendly and timely service. When you set up a policy with us, we’ll be sure to get your policy documents out to you within 24 hours of receiving your payment (weekdays). Furthermore, when you make a claim, we’ll do our best to get your claim settled swiftly.

Can we help you with anything else?

In addition to narrow boat insurance we also insure a wide range of other craft including:

  • Jet Ski insurance
  • Powerboat insurance
  • Yacht insurance
  • RIB insurance
  • Dinghy insurance
  • Canoe insurance
  • Windsurf insurance
  • Rowing scull insurance

Plus, if you run your own marine trade business, you can get expert business insurance from our specialist SME team. Get in touch with them today to see how they can help protect your business. Visit our business pages for more information.

About the author

Adam Summersby is a respected leader with 11 years’ varied experience in niche personal and commercial lines insurance, including caravan, site operators and excess reimbursement, with proficiency in leadership, sales and account management.