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A beginner's guide to

Boat insurance in the UK

A beginner's guide to boat insurance in the UK

Want to learn more about boat insurance? You’ve come to the right place.

In this beginner-friendly guide, we’ll reveal the ins and outs of boat insurance and whether you should get it in 2024. 

Topics on this page include:

  • What boat insurance does and doesn’t cover
  • How much is boat insurance in the UK
  • What factors can increase or reduce the cost of boat insurance

And much more!

Let’s get started:

What is boat insurance?

Boat insurance, also known as pleasurecraft/watercraft insurance, protects boat owners from financial losses and liabilities associated with owning and operating a vessel. 

Having the right policy protects you and your property and limits your financial liability.

It can cover the cost of damage repair or injuries to passengers and third parties. 

In some cases, it will even pay for legal costs in the event of an accident or lawsuit.

It’s highly recommended you get boat insurance for anyone who owns a vessel, including powerboats, sailboats, personal watercraft (PWC), or even a houseboat. 

Boat owners need to ensure that their policy covers everything needed to keep them safe and protected, and understand how to find the best deals on coverage.

Do you need boat insurance?

It may surprise you to know that boat insurance is not a legal requirement in the UK, but it’s highly recommended for several reasons. 

No matter how big or small the boat, it can be an expensive investment. 

Without the proper coverage, repairs or replacements in the event of an accident or theft can be a huge financial strain. 

If you happen to be involved in an incident that results in injury or property damage, you could be held liable for substantial costs. 

Having boat insurance can provide peace of mind and offer financial protection for boat owners.

It’s important to remember, too, that while it’s not a legal requirement, some third parties may require you to have insured your boats as part of their agreements. 

For example, if you’re an Aquavista berth holder, insurance is required as part of our berthing contract.

This is the case for most marinas and permanent berthing, so be sure to check with your mooring providers whether boat insurance is required.

What does boat insurance cover?

Boat insurance policies can vary dramatically in terms of coverage, but most standard policies include the following protections:

  • Damage: Includes accidental and/or malicious damage to your vessel. Usually covers your boat, engine, and equipment and can protect you from things like underwater collisions. 
  • Theft: In the event your boat is stolen, your insurance policy will cover the cost of replacement. Boats can be stolen from moorings, driveways, or marinas. 
  • Third-party liability: Protection from legal and financial liabilities. Useful if your boat causes injury to a person, another boat, or property damage to a third party.
  • Personal belongings: Personal items are often stored and kept on boats such as fishing gear, water sports equipment, and electronics. This coverage will protect you in case any items are damaged or stolen from your boat.
  • Fire damage: Fires can and do occur on boats and can destroy your vessel. This is becoming increasingly more common with electric boats, so be sure to keep this in mind. 
  • Transportation: Boats can be transported by road but doing so exposes them to increased risk from road accidents, moving, and launching. 

What does boat insurance not cover?

While most UK boat insurance policies will provide you with comprehensive coverage to protect your vessel, there are some exclusions and limitations you should be aware of. 

It’s important to remember that this can vary wildly between insurers and your craft types, such as inland boaters, liveaboard vessels, and coastal cruisers.

So be sure to check with your insurance provider on exactly what you get covered as part of your agreement.

Generally, most boat insurance policies will not cover:

  • Wear and tear: Standard boat insurance policies do not tend to cover damage caused by wear and tear or gradual deterioration caused by normal use of the vessel.
  • Negligence: If damage or loss occurs due to negligence or failure to maintain your boat properly, it may not be covered under your insurance policy.
  • Racing and water sports: Some insurance policies may exclude coverage or require a separate policy for damages that are incurred during racing activities.
  • Uninsured boaters: If your boat is damaged in an accident involving an uninsured boater, you may not be covered. Some boat owners take out extra uninsured boater coverage to protect them.

How much is boat insurance in the UK?

As with most types of insurance, the cost of coverage for boats in the UK can vary significantly depending on a number of factors. 

According to Velos, comprehensive insurance policies can cost anywhere from £100 to £500 or more per year.

But, the exact premium will be influenced by other things that can drive the price higher or lower. And your chosen insurance provider can heavily dictate what price you can expect. 

What factors can impact the cost of boat insurance?

Quite a few variables will affect the price of your boat insurance premium. 

If you own a larger, more expensive vessel, you can expect to pay more for insurance coverage than for a smaller, less valuable boat. 

A larger boat will be more expensive to replace in the event of a total loss, making insurance coverage and premiums higher.

For example, Velos claims that yachts and catamarans can cost around £380 and £480 respectively per year.

Whereas, houseboats are closer to around £260.

Areas of the county that have high rates of boating accidents or are crime hotspots may lead to higher premiums. 

The increased risk of theft or damage could mean more coverage is required and it will need to be sufficient to protect your boat. 

However, carrying high limits and low excesses will typically result in larger premiums, but raising the excess amount may lower the cost.

What types of boats can be insured?

With such a broad selection of boats and watercraft types available on the market, boat insurance companies typically offer coverage for a wide range of vessels, including:

  • Powerboats - This includes speed boats, fishing boats, pontoon boats, and other engine-powered vessels like river cruisers.
  • Sailing boats & dingies - Monohull and multihull sailing boats, yachts, dingies and rowing boats.
  • Personal watercraft (PWCs) - Jet skis, waverunners, and other PWCs can be covered under specific policies.
  • Houseboats - Insurance is available for houseboats, and typically includes stationary and motor-powered types. Examples can include narrowboats and widebeams.
  • Luxury yachts - Luxury yachts can be insured though they may require specialised policies.
  • Narrowboats - Wooden canal boats and other vessels designed for navigating narrow waterways.

Do you need a survey for boat insurance?

Most insurance providers will require a boat survey or safety inspection before issuing a policy, particularly if the vessel is old or expensive. 

A survey will assess the condition of the boat and identify potential risks or issues that could affect its seaworthiness or value. 

The survey's findings can affect the price of the coverage and the terms offered by the insurance company.

Top tips for reducing insurance costs

While boat insurance makes perfect sense, no one wants to overpay. 

But there are some ways to find affordable insurance for your boat. 

Before buying a policy, always take the time to shop around and ask for quotes from multiple insurance providers. 

Rates can vary drastically, so compare policies to find the best possible price.

Many organisations offer discounted insurance rates for members, so joining a boating club, yacht association, or other boating organisation can help you keep premiums down. 

Choosing a higher excess can also keep the payment low. 

Decide what you can realistically afford as an excess payment and lower your monthly premium.

Avoiding accidents and claims can help keep the cost of insurance lower so work to avoid any boating accidents or incidents. 

Some insurers will offer discounts if you bundle your boat insurance with other policies, such as home or car insurance. 

It can also be worth checking with insurers that focus specifically on boat insurance as they may be able to offer you more competitive rates than standard insurers. 

If your boat is small or inexpensive, you could consider a basic boat insurance policy with limited coverage to reduce your premiums. 

How to get boat insurance?

To secure the right kind of insurance for your boat, explore different insurers and look at options from:

  • Websites like MoneySuperMarket and other comparison sites allow you to compare quotes from multiple insurers and find the best deal.
  • Insurance companies like Towergate and Craftinsure specialise in boat insurance. It can be worth contacting them and similar insurers for a competitive quote.
  • Insurance brokers can help you navigate the different policies and find coverage tailored to your specific needs.

When applying for insurance coverage, it’s essential to provide the correct information about your boat, boating experience, and intended use. 

This will ensure that you receive an accurate quote and an appropriate boat insurance policy.


Narrowboat insurance from Towergate

If you do decide that the boating life is for you then it is important that you protect yourself and your belongings with the right insurance. Towergate Insurance offers narrowboat insurance covering market value, safeguarding against incidents like fire, theft, and personal accidents. Additional breakdown cover provides peace of mind during waterway journeys. For more information visit our dedicated narrowboat insurance page or call one of our specialist advisers on 0344 892 1987.

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