Insurance and License to Canoe
Whilst there are some places in the UK that are free to paddle, for much of the inland waters you need a license from British Waterways on the navigable waters (larger rivers and of course the miles of canals).
“Fine” you may say, “We’ll leave those (which may be some of the best paddling spots) and just stick to lakes”. Unfortunately, access to many of the lakes and reservoirs are controlled by the owner or license holder. These will typically require 3rd party insurance to make sure that any damage you cause (or the raising of your vessel) can be covered.
Is this sounding like too much red tape?
Fear not, there is one simple solution: Join the British Canoe Union.
Membership of the BCU provides you with a license to paddle on British Waterways, including the canal network, and provides you with a generous 3rd party insurance. It is by far the easiest way to get on the water.
BCU membership also gets you discounts (you have an online and in-store discount at Cotswold Outdoor for example), and regular canoe magazines.
You can also take out family membership, where you can add children to the membership at a much reduced rate.
This is what we have. A Family BCU membership, so we’re insured for mishaps, and everyone has a license to paddle on British Waterways. We can go down the canal in a long line like a family of ducks 😉
The BCU also have done a deal with an insurance company so that you can take out cover for your boats. We also took this out as the price was very attractive – especially compared to the cost of replacing our canoe.
Joining the BCU
The BCU is divide into different regions, and you join the BCU through the region that you are based in. This doesn’t limit your waterways license.
- Canoe England Membership
- Canoe Association of Northern Ireland
- Scottish Canoe Association
- Canoe Wales
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