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Boat insurance

Compare Cheap Boat Insurance Quotes

canal boat

Compare Boat Insurance quotes from 8 trusted UK providers1

Whether you own a yacht, narrowboat, speedboat, dinghy or jet-ski, you’ll be keen to protect your vessel.

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1Accurate as of August 2023

What is boat insurance?

Boat insurance provides financial protection if your boat is involved in an incident in which someone else is injured, or their property is damaged. 

Some boat insurance policies will also pay out if your boat is stolen or damaged in an accident or fire. If the worst happens, payouts are normally limited to the market value of the craft at that time. 

boar=t on the river

Do I need boat insurance?

If you have a powered boat or a houseboat and you’re using inland waterways such as a canal or lake, you’ll usually need to have third party insurance for at least £1million. 

Depending on the navigation authority, you might also need insurance for some types of unpowered boat. 

But third-party cover might not be enough. A more comprehensive policy will cover your boat against fire, theft and malicious damage, as well as covering you for salvage charges and any incidents that occur while your boat is in transit by road. Insurance can also cover personal effects and equipment. 

Boat insurance gives you peace of mind that you won’t have to pay for insured events out of your own pocket.

What does boat insurance cover?

  • Tick

    Covered:

    • Loss or accidental damage: Loss due to fire and theft. Accidental damage due to fire, theft, malicious damage, sinking, stranding, collisions and salvage costs. 

    • Damage caused by faults: A failure in or of the design, manufacture or installation of a component part of your boat. 

    • Theft or attempted theft: Theft of your boat, parts of your boat or equipment. 

    • Third-party liability: Accidental damage caused to another boat or property, or injury to another person. Legal costs incurred as the result of damage or injury. 

    • Personal accident: Cover in the case of accidental death, disability and injury. Benefits could include evacuation, hospitalisation, treatment, rehabilitation and recovery. 

    • Damage or loss of personal property: Items such as clothes, personal items, and sports and fishing equipment while these are aboard your boat or being loaded/unloaded. 

    • Loss or damage to dinghy or tender and trailer: Dinghies, tenders and trailers carried on the boat might need to be itemised and listed on the policy.

  • Cross

    Not covered:

    • Unseaworthy vessels: An unseaworthy condition is anything that would render the boat unfit to sail. 

    • Wear and tear: This includes rot, rust, damp, and weathering. All boat parts will eventually need to be repaired or replaced due to day-to-day use or age. 

    • Theft of property that isn’t adequately secured: Insured property needs to be securely fastened to the yacht or boat or within a locked compartment on board. Outboard motors should be securely locked using an anti-theft device. 

    • Loss or damage while under the influence of drugs or alcohol: This could be deemed negligence, wilful misconduct or recklessness. 

    • Mechanical or electrical breakdown: Breakdown of the motor or other mechanical/electrical parts. 

    • Operating outside of designated cruising areas: Coverage can include distances from the shore, or longitude and latitude limits. 

    • Terrorism, war, or civil commotion: These risks can be covered by a separate policy if necessary.

What optional extras are available with boat insurance?

  • Plus

    Legal cover (24/7 legal helpline)

  • Plus

    Breakdown cover (like car breakdown cover, but for your boat)

  • Plus

    Personal possessions cover

  • Plus

    Family and friends cover

  • Plus

    Auxiliary engines

  • Plus

    Tender/life raft

  • Plus

    Trailer/trolley

  • Plus

    Craft equipment (life jackets, buoyancy aids, depth finders etc.)

  • Plus

    Racing use cover (for certain crafts)

What types of boats can be insured?

Cover is available for motorboats, narrowboats, sailing yachts, houseboats, rigid inflatable boats (RIBS), dinghies, as well as a wide variety of small and large pleasure crafts. You can even take out an insurance policy to protect your jet-ski.

  • Motorboat: Powered exclusively by an engine 

  • Narrowboat: Type of canal boat, usually 6ft 10 inches wide and 20-70 feet long

  • Sailing yacht: Large, fast, leisure boat  

  • Houseboat: Can be moored and used as a dwelling 

  • Rib (rigid inflatable boat): Firm-hulled, surrounded by inflatable tubes, providing buoyancy 

  • Dinghy: Small, usually inflatable, used for short-term, short-distance transport 

  • Cruising yacht: Live-aboard yacht suitable for long-distance travel, but doesn’t require a crew 

  • Motor cruiser: Large motor-driven vessel, 10-40m in length 

  • Fast fisher: Fishing boat with an open configuration and a good walkaround  

  • Sailing sport boat: Propelled partly or entirely by a large sail on a tall mast 

  • Jet ski: Recreational watercraft that a small number of users sit on (not in) 

  • Canoe: A light, narrow boat with pointed ends, propelled with a paddle  

  • Kayak: Small, narrow, human-powered by a long, double-bladed paddle

Do I need boat insurance? 

Whether or not you are legally required to have boat insurance depends on the type of boat you have, where you keep it and where you use it. If, for example, you plan to use a powered boat or houseboat on inland waterways such as rivers and canals, you’ll usually need a third-party policy that covers you for at least £1m in damages. Some navigation authorities require more than this – for example, the Broads Authority (responsible for the Norfolk Broads) requires a minimum indemnity limit of £2m. You usually need to register or licence your boat if you want to keep or use it on inland waterways, such as rivers and canals. Some navigation authorities also require your boat to have a Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) certificate. This is the boat equivalent of a car’s MOT.

You will also need insurance if you plan to: 

  • Race or charter your boat

  • Keep it in a marina or harbour

  • Sail it in other countries

  • Take out a finance deal to buy your boat

How much is boat insurance? 

Boat insurance costs vary depending on factors including:

  • the value of your craft 

  • your boat’s size and model 

  • how you intend to use it 

  • where it is moored/stored 

  • your boat safety education and experience 

  • the zone in which you plan on sailing 

  • your liability limit 

  • your boat driving record  

  • the policy excess 

canal boat

How can I save on boat insurance? 

You can find cheap boat insurance by: 

  • 1

    Taking courses

    Gaining helmsman, skipper, or yacht master qualifications can help reduce your premiums

  • 2

    Mooring your boat securely

    Keeping your boat in a marina berth can sometimes allow you to claim a special discount

  • 3

    Checking the correct market value

    Your boat’s value impacts how much you pay for insurance. Its value will depreciate over time so make sure you provide your insurer with an accurate valuation when buying insurance. 

  • 4

    Only use your boat on inland waterways

    Inland waterways have stricter speed limits than the sea and the water is usually calmer – this means less chance of an accident, so lower insurance costs.

  • 5

    Buying third-party only insurance

    This is the cheapest type of cover but you’ll need to pay to repair or replace your boat yourself if it’s damaged or stolen.

  • 6

    Choose add-ons carefully

    A bespoke insurance policy might be better than one which bundles types of cover you might not need. 

  • 7

    Shop around

    Comparing quotes online will allow you to find a policy that suits your needs and your budget.

Sean Thompson

Our expert says

"

Depending on the type of boat you have, you’re likely to need some level of protection. Boat insurance can cover you for a host of scenarios but potentially the most costly is damage to a third-party. It could end up costing you far more than your prized boat if you face legal action and don’t have cover in place.

"
- Sean Thompson, Author

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  • Tell us about yourself and your boat

    Give a few details about you, your boat, and what you need cover for.

  • We’ll do the legwork

    We’ll put together a list of boat insurance quotes, so you can pick one that works for you.

  • Time to set sail

    Once you’ve chosen, you can purchase your policy and your boat will be covered.

You may be able to pay extra to add theft and accidental damage cover for your boat to your home insurance. 

However, this cover will sometimes only protect your boat while it is kept at your home. And even if your boat is covered away from home, it will not usually include insurance for incidents that occur in transit, for example when you are towing your boat from your home to a waterway.

Third party boat insurance provides cover if you injure someone else or damage their property. A more comprehensive policy will also cover you if your boat is stolen or destroyed in a fire. Insurance can also cover dinghies, trailers and personal possessions. 

The authorities that oversee most inland waterways and marinas where boats are moored insist that boat owners have at least third party boat insurance. But if you have spent a lot of money on your boat, a more comprehensive policy to cover fire, theft and other events that will impact you financially is a good idea.

You need at least third-party boat insurance in the UK unless you only plan to use your boat on privately-owned waterways.

Some insurers might want a survey done if your boat is old or an unknown make or model. A basic insurance survey will just look at the condition of the boat. If you are using finance to buy your boat, the finance company might want a survey to ascertain the boat is good security for the loan.

Boat insurance exclusions include wear and tear, gradual deterioration, weathering, insects, mould, recklessness and anyone other than named operators skippering the boat.

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