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Tips to see how much your boat insurance should cost

  • Neil
  • 27 Jan 2011
  • General
  • Back

This article looks at the key price calculation factors that affect your boat insurance premium for inland waterways vessels. Collated by Mercia Marine Ltd, fully registered UK providers of Boat Insurance, Mercia make clear this information is provided with best intentions only but nevertheless hope you find it useful when looking for good quality insurance at competitive rates.

WHATEVER you own – a dutch barge, narrowboat, houseboat or other type of barge in insurance terms the vast majority of boat insurance companies will categorise them as the same. The reason for this is perhaps partly due to simplicity (there are already too many boat types the boat insurance companies have to create and maintain premium calculation rules for!), but actually the key reason is because the inherent risk of a claim between these categories is similar.

Luckily if you own a barge this immediately guarantees you lower rates of insurance levy, with fast powerboats attracting the highest levies for obvious reasons, regardless of boat insurance category. However, all good boat insurance companies will firstly offer you the option of either comprehensive or third party only insurance. As you might guess this option is actually the single biggest criterium in determining your insurance cost as you are effectively stating whether the insurer must pay a claim on one or two vessels in the event of an incident and you are found at fault.


Third party insurances are usually calulated as a fixed price, but assuming you select comprehensive insurance, the second key factor determining the price of any boat insurance quote is the value of your vessel. Insurance companies literally take the value of the vessel (plus an additional quoted items eg generator) and multiply it by a specific percentage rate (ie vessel value x 0.#%). When it comes to barge insurance the rate applied is normally fairly static however the rate can be on a sliding scale (ie reducing gradually for higher valued boats) but also age may well be classed as a factor (i.e. as boats age the probability of hull disrepair increases the likelihood of accidental sinking).


The third key factor that will affect you quote will be (similar to most insurance types), years no claims bonus. Most insurers provide five years but some do provide six years. For each and every year without a claim a percentage will be knocked off your final insurance cost up to the maximum number of years.


The remaining factors determining your insurance cost are often then optional. Clearly taking up additional optional items incurs a cost (or risk) for the insurer and as a result inevitably affects the price;

  • Breakdown cover (usually a fixed price)
  • Contents cover (depends on the type and value of contents being covered & normally requires direct contact with insurance staff)
  • No claims bonus protection (when available at a small percentage rate)

Finally there are also one or two other factors which may be taken into consideration (this all depends on individual insurers) which perhaps don’t affect a majority but inevitably will affect some. For example, not having a mooring (roaming boats are of greater risk to insurers due to increased movement) or requirement for access to tidal areas eg on the River Severn near Gloucester for instance. Somewhat surprisingly while most insurers will stipulate an age of 18 or over, thereafter age is not a factor upon boat insurance cost. Those over 70 however may find exemptions from personal injury claims.


Article originally published in the features section of Towpath Talk online.  The paper itself is available for free here at the yard.  February's edition has just arrived