Narrowboat & Barge Insurance

Leisurely travelling up and down the canal or permanently moored, we have you covered with our Narrowboat and Barge insurance. Our specialist cover includes free RCR membership as standard and liveaboard cover if needed.

Why choose our Narrowboat Insurance? 

Having specialised in Marine Insurance for over 195 years, GJW Direct can provide you with the perfect cover for your Narrowboat or Barge with instant online quotes available. Our policies include: 

  • Agreed fixed value cover 
  • Automatic Liveaboard Cover
  • All Risks Contents Insurance 

Did you know? 

We offer some great benefits, in fact, GJW Direct Narrowboat and Barge Policy covers you for an agreed fixed value which is not subject to the vessel’s market value.

Our dedicated self-service portal allows you to manage your policy online. We also offer 0% interest finance options for policies over £100. 

Your Narrowboat and Barge cover also includes free RCR breakdown membership. GJW Direct are working with River Canal Rescue for 24-hour peace of mind.

Talk to a member of our friendly team today on 0151 473 8000 or find out how we compare by getting your quote online today.

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Two narrowboats cruising past eachother on canal with green trees behind

Benefits of our Narrowboat and Barge cover*:

  • Agreed Fixed Value
  • Automatic Liveaboard Cover
  • All Risks Contents Insurance
  • Third Party Liability £5,000,000
  • Excellent Financial Security
  • Fast And Fair Claims Settlement
  • River Canal Rescue (RCR) membership
  • Legal Protection cover
  • Personal Accident cover
  • Medical Expenses cover
  • Marina Benefits
  • Protected No Claims Bonus  

*subject to exclusions and limitations

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RCR and GJW Direct 'Covering you for those unexpected moments'

Visit the RCR website for more information by clicking here

  • What is a Narrowboat?

    Narrowboats are so called as they have to navigate the narrow canals which can only take boats up to 6' 10" wide in their locks and these canals make up the majority of the UK waterways, particularly in the Midlands. The bridges have restricted width on the narrow canals.

    Narrowboats are usually constructed from steel. The length of the Narrowboats vary, although there is a maximum of 70 feet on most waterways.

  • Where can I use my Narrowboat?

    There are broad canals which have locks of twice the width, or over, allowing wider boats or two Narrowboats to pass through side by side. Major rivers, such as the Thames, Severn and Trent have much wider locks than canals, allowing even larger boats.

  • Are there any other limitations on the waterways?

    There are various limitations when cruising, the main being a speed limit of four miles per hour.You can usually moor your Narrowboat anywhere on the towpath side of the canal.There are, however, a few limitations, such as at lock moorings, under bridges and on bends, etc.

  • What is a lock?

    Locks are used to lift or lower boats from one level to another. They are found on almost all canals and rivers. A lock is a section of canal or river that is closed off by gates which control the water level so that boats can be raised or lowered as they pass through it.

  • Who controls the Inland Waterways?

    There are three main authorities who control the waterways:

    - British Waterways who control almost all canals and some rivers including the Trent, Severn and Yorkshire Ouse

    - The Environment Agency controls the rivers Thames and Medway and the rivers of East Anglia

    - The Broads Authority control the Norfolk and Suffolk broads

    They are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the waterways under their jurisdiction, and also responsible for licensing boats.

  • Can I live on my Narrowboat?

    Yes a Narrowboat can be your permanent home, as many marinas have residential moorings, with all facilities and services. However, you will have to pay council tax, which may be included in the mooring charge. You should also inform your insurance company that your Narrowboat is your primary residence.

  • Do I need insurance for my Narrowboat?

    You will need a minimum of Third Party Liability insurance to use the Inland Waterway system.

  • What should I look for when insuring my Narrowboat?

    GJW Direct only offers comprehensive insurance . Our insurance will cover your Narrowboat for accidental damage, theft, fire and vandalism, plus third party liability. 

    There are many companies offering Narrowboat insurance. You should always check the extent of the cover to ensure that you meet all the company’s requirements and they meet yours. You could end up uninsured if you do not comply with the conditions.

    Here are some things to look out for:

    - Cruising range - Some companies limit you to non tidal waters only, but you may require tidal waters for access.

    With GJW Direct the cruising range is United Kingdom inland waters which means inland waters of the United Kingdom where there are no tides but including broads and fens whether tidal or not. You may travel along enclosed inland tidal stretches for the purposes only of entering or leaving the non-tidal system.

    - Houseboat use - If you are using the Narrowboat for residential purposes you need to advise your insurance company as the policy may exclude Narrowboats used as a permanent residence. The GJW Direct Narrowboat and Barge Policy offers live aboard cover at an additional premium, however you need to inform us that your Narrowboat is your permanent place of residence in order to be covered for this usage.

    - Personal property/Contents - You need to check the extent of the cover you have for your personal belongings. You may require all risks cover similar to a household policy if you are living on board permanently. Our single article limit is £1,000, therefore you will need to inform us, in writing, of any items over the value of £1,000 ,to ensure you have the required cover. 

    The GJW Direct Narrowboat and Barge Policy mirrors a home owner’s policy especially tailored for a boat which forms a place of residence. Contents can also be covered anywhere in the world on payment of the appropriate additional premium.

    - Single handed use - Some companies exclude single handed use or charge extra. The GJW Direct Narrowboat and Barge policy includes single handed use as standard.

  • What is the Boat Safety Scheme?

    The Boat Safety Scheme is owned by the Canal and River Trust and is like a boating version of the M.O.T. It sets standards for Narrowboats, the installations and components, which you must meet before obtaining a cruising licence. The scheme is designed to minimise the risks of fire or explosion on Narrowboats.

    The standard combines essential safety requirements and best safety practice advice. They include criteria for Narrowboat systems such as electrical installations, inboard/outboard engines, appliances, ventilation and fuels.

  • I have heard there are signals you need to make for left and right - what are they?

    When cruising the Inland waterways you use a horn blast to signal your manoeuvres, here are the basic signals:

    1 blast- Turning to the right

    2 blasts- Turning to the left

    3 blasts - Reversing

    4 blasts- then pause then 1 blast- Turning round to the right

    4 blasts- then pause then 2 blasts- Turning round to the left

    1 blast- loud and 2 blasts short - I can't manoeuvre

    1 - long blast - Warning e.g. when approaching tunnel and bends

  • What's included in the River Canal Rescue cover?

    Equipped with the most up-to-date mapping technology, RCR's qualified mechanics will investigate and, where possible, rectify any breakdown with your boat or tow it to the nearest marina or safe haven.

    Nationwide breakdown assistance and recovery

    24-hour practical and technical telephone assistance

    Crisis coordination and message relay service

    Homestart and provision pick-up service

    Free WaterNav App for navigation

    SOS app to keep you updated when you breakdown

    This cover is a pay on use system at a cost of £50 per call out

    For more information, please download our RCR brochure


    Subject to the terms and conditions of the GJW Direct Narrowboat & Barge Policy.

Policy Documents

See below the policy documents relevant to your Narrowboat cover which are available for you to download.

Please note, your policy wording may differ from the latest version available on our website. Please refer to your online dashboard for the relevant wording for your policy.

Narrowboat Insurance

We cover all types of narrowboats, and with River Canal Rescue breakdown cover* included as standard, you’ll never be left stranded on the UK waterways.

*Subject to exclusions and limitations

Barge & Dutch Barge insurance

Our policy also covers wide-beams, barges and Dutch barges, with third-party liability up to £5,000,000 for larger vessels.

Moored and houseboat insurance

Whether you’re always on the move, or permanently moored, we offer all risks contents insurance and automatic liveaboard cover so you don’t have to worry about damage or theft to your property.