So you have come to a decision, you no longer want to live in your flat/house etc. and fancy living on a boat, or maybe your circumstances have changed and you think this might be a cheaper option.

Many many people live on boats up and down the UK canals, some legally, some less so, and it is a bit of a grey area as to who is what!

One thing you need to consider very carefully is insurance. You might think "It will never happen to me", and of course it might not, but what if it does.....say you misjudge that weir, or even worse, a kid jumps in to a lock for a swim and.....ok it might not be your fault but....

So lets look at a scenario. Mr Owner has a boat and thinks he will get a bit of cash on the side hiring it out here and there. He sticks a card in the post office and Mr Hiree comes along, interested in having a week afloat. Mr Hiree hands of his money, say £600.00 for the week (far less than the boatyard hire price) and thinks he is on to a good thing. However, the minute money changes hands the pair of them have broken the law. First and foremost BWB consider this a commercial arrangement and it contravenes the licence, and the insurance company will not insure the boat for private hire under a "normal" policy, it has to be a commercial policy.

Mr Owner has a way to get around this, "If anything happens tell anyone that asks that you are a friend of mine, and DON'T say you have paid me". All well and good until you get to court if there is a problem.......

"How long have you known him?" asks the barrister?

"Six months"

 "OK, and do you know his wife as well"


"Odd he is not married....."

You can see where this is going.......

So be warned, if you friend/uncle/brother owns a boat and you borrow it and do not pay him it is fine, but if you are "Hiring" from your "Brand new friend" it is illegal and not something this web site recommends......

Now, oddly if you are taking a long term hire/rent then there is a loophole in the regulations you can use in certain circumstances to get around this, and the cost is minimal.

So, you have found the ideal boat and shaken hands on the deal, in six weeks time you will be off on your dream trip around the UK Canals. There are a million things you need to think about but let me suggest you ought to make sure if nothing else your trip is legal and covered by insurance.

If you hand over, say £850 per month and set off on your six month trip you are NOT insured, unless, and this is unlikely, the boat has a commercial policy on it already. You are contravening the licence on the boat and the insurance (but ask to check the never know....)

So what do you do? Well one insurance company has a special policy to cover this type of arrangement. How it is done is simplicity itself and costs very little.

boatrent will now advise you just how this can be arranged legally. There is as far as we are aware only ONE insurance company that covers this arrangement.

This information is offered in good faith and we cannot be held liable for any errors or omissions. You should get all paperwork checked over by a solicitor familiar with marine insurance to be on the safe side.
The loophole.........................

Say you are taking the boat on for six months. The owner of the boat draws up a contact selling you 4/64ths of the boat, for the sum of (say the total rental cost for six months, or 4/64ths of the insurance valuation of the boat) and you make the down-payment of one month (say) upfront. The contact is dated and signed by both parties to the agreement, in it a date to return the boat is stipulated.

This agreement is signed by both parties and dated

(You can draft something up between you, for legal reasons wording cannot be suggested)

A second contact is drawn up and on it it states that the boat will be returned to the location agreed within 7 days of the date of signing, and the boat then handed back to the owner of the remaining 60/64ths, within the contact it states the the owner of the 4/64ths share of the boat agrees to sell his share back to the owner of the other 60/64ths for the sum of £1.00.

This agreement is signed by both parties AND LEFT UNDATED.

Both forms are sent to the insurance company and the owner confirms he has been paid for the 4/64th share (or one down payment) and the insurance company will note the name of the new 4/64th part owner on the policy and hey presto, the boat is covered. Once this owner has his name on the policy he could, if he wished, ask for additional cover for, say, his own contents....

The normal BWB licence covers this arrangement and the name of the part owner need not be advised to them.

We are only aware of ONE insurance company that covers this arrangement.

The company offering this service is Michael Stimpson and Associates, contact  or 01923 770425 (afternoons).

To protect yourself you should run ANY such contact past a marine solicitor or legal advisor and the owner of this web site whilst offering this information in good faith can not, under any circumstances, be held responsible for any errors and omissions in any of the above.