As many consumers tighten their belts, caravan holidays are becoming increasingly popular within the UK with both the Caravan Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club reporting huge percentage leaps in the numbers of people taking caravan trips over the past few years.
With well over half a million caravan owners in the UK, it is perhaps surprising to learn that only a relatively small proportion of these have insured their caravan.
As most caravan owners know, caravan insurance is not covered by your car insurance. Moreover, given that caravan repair shops are few and far between and that caravan holidays often occur far from home the cost of anything going wrong can be far in excess of a car repair.
Some of the most expensive costs can occur when your caravan needs to be towed long distances, particularly when travelling abroad. These can be financially crippling if you are not properly ensured making it quite important to purchase caravan insurance should you intend to holiday in your caravan regularly.
At the same time, owning a caravan in itself constitutes a risk and the research from CaravanGuard has shown that by far the most common insurance claim made for caravans is due to accidental damage.
This is just as likely to occur at home as when on holiday and can also be relatively expensive. 25% of all damage claims are for smashed windows which can happen anywhere and at anytime. Thefts, too, are far more likely to occur outside the home than whilst on holiday.
The cost of a new caravan means that they usually rank amongst an owner’s top three most expensive possessions. As such, it is important to try to keep yourself protected against any damage that they might incur whether you are going to be regularly using them or not. If you are going to be using them the risk gets higher and the amount of protection increases at the same time.
However, there are steps that you can take to reduce the amount you spend on caravan insurance. Choosing your provider carefully will allow you to make sure you get the most for your money and taking proper security measures will usually mean that you can receive a discount on your premiums.
To this end, the guide below gives details of how to shop for caravan insurance showing you how to get the best value for money possible and including ways of haggling the price down.
Many people will be able to save hundreds of pounds with these tips so if you are considering purchasing caravan insurance in the near future it is well worth bearing them in mind.
What to look for…
When comparing caravan insurance across providers it is important to look at more than just the price. Unless you are familiar with the various features commonly offered as part of caravan insurance policies you are unlikely to be able to compare them properly. As such, below is an outline of the different types of coverage to look for when assessing insurance providers.
Every caravan owner will have different needs from their caravan insurance although there are certain things that form the basis of any insurance policy. The most fundamental constituents of caravan insurance are covered in case of fire or theft.
If you are not insuring your caravan for either of these two things then your coverage is likely to be quite thin. Caravans are expensive items to buy as well as being notoriously easy to steal making insurance against theft particularly important.
This is even more important if you own a touring caravan that spends most of the year not being used. 57% of caravan thefts occur outside the home and it has been reported that theft is on the rise. If you are a once-a-year holidayer this makes it particularly important that you purchase a policy that insures you against theft.
In this vein, accidental damage and malicious damage are two separate things which may or may not be covered by a caravan insurance policy. The latter is more important if you are keeping your caravan on a driveway or other outdoor area where it is more likely to fall prey to vandalism or damage from the outdoor environment.
This is also a particularly important thing for owners of static caravans to look out for on their policies. At the same time, 32% of all caravan claims whether touring or static is as a result of accidental damage.
However, if you are intending on using your caravan it may be useful for you to also insure for things like extreme weather conditions and third party liability.
If you are touring in an area where there is the possibility of encountering bad weather one of the most common forms of damage your caravan can incur can be rain or wind damage. The amount of damage that can be done by driving rain is easy to underestimate but can cost hundreds of pounds to repair.
When you are travelling in a caravan it is particularly important that you are insured for various things which are not necessary when your caravan is in storage. For instance, people who tour in their caravans without cover for roadside assistance or vehicle recovery are taking a risk that could cost them thousands of pounds in the event that they are unlucky. Coverage for roadside assistance or recovery and mechanical failure are therefore essential for anyone considering a caravan holiday.
When buying insurance it is important to consider what could go wrong and what it would cost you if it were to do so. Many caravanners, for instance, fail to take into account the potential cost of accommodation in the event that their caravan was to become unusable while on holiday.
At short notice and without a free choice of the hotel this could easily run into hundreds of pounds. Similarly, driver replacement cover could save you a substantial amount in the event that the person who is driving were to become ill.
If you are hoping to holiday in your caravan regularly it may be worthwhile arranging these features of coverage as you buy your policy rather than arranging them just before going away. Doing so will save you hassle but also, if you plan to make good use of your caravan, could save you money.
Most insurers do not insure you for travel abroad by default. Instead, this is an option that you will either have to pay extra for or choose another insurer. If you are hoping to travel abroad quite frequently in your caravan then it is worth bearing this in mind as you choose your provider.
This may mean that it is cheaper, for instance, to solely holiday abroad rather than purchasing two policies to cover the UK and Europe separately.
Bear in mind that it is quite difficult to find a company that will cover your caravan for travel outside of Europe and, even then, providers differ in their definitions of what exactly constitutes Europe.
When it comes to Western Europe the better regarded providers are often considerably more expensive than their competitors. It is important to remember that what matters most with an insurance provider is that they are reliable and that it is worth paying more if this is what you get.
All Risk Policies
An important distinction is between all risk policies and those which simply insure the caravan itself. An all risk caravan will also cover the contents and equipment (possibly not including the awning) normally up to a value of around £300. This can be quite useful if you are taking a bike with you on holidays, for instance.
New For Old
A lot of people look at two caravan insurance policies, one more expensive than the other, notice that they insure roughly the same things and assume that the cheaper one is better. This is not the case when the more expensive policy is “new for old.”
What this means is that if your caravan goes out of service you will be given a brand new one to replace it. The financial value of this is often far in excess of the premiums you’ll be paying and is worth looking into if you plan on getting plenty of use out of your caravan.
Finally, even those who do know how to effectively compare caravan insurance policies based on their level of coverage often fail to take into account the effect of the different discounts offered by providers.
Some, for instance, still do not offer the ubiquitous any claims discount. Other providers will give you a substantial reduction in your premiums for doing things that you were already planning on like joining a caravan club or adding a security alarm.
Three types of caravan, three types of insurance
It is generally accepted that there are three main types of the caravan which each need to be insured in different ways. These are:
Static Caravans (AKA Mobile Homes)
Caravans that are designed to remain in one location on a semi-permanent basis are known as static caravans. These have various requirements that mean they will need to be insured differently than other types of caravan.
The fact that they will generally be located within a caravan site, for instance, means that the relative security of this site will be an important factor in determining your insurance premiums.
It is also possible to install quite sophisticated security alarms enabling you to reduce your premiums if you plan to leave your caravan unused for long periods of the year.
Touring caravans are those that are coupled to a motor vehicle to be transported to multiple sites within a short period of time. In this scenario, a whole host of concerns arise that do not with a static caravan.
For instance, if your caravan breaks down abroad and is uninsured then you may have to pay the price of repair on short notice or, worse, the cost of towing it home.
You may also want to pay for accommodation insurance in case your caravan breaks down and you find yourself having to pay accommodation costs unexpectedly.
Motorised Caravans (AKA Motorhomes)
A motorised caravan is one that has an engine and powers itself. These are particularly popular in North America but are increasingly making inroads into the UK and continental Europe.
Sometimes it is possible to cover these using car insurance but more often than not you will be required to seek out a specialist insurer. This is in part because repairing these can be more problematic than a car with specialist parts and expertise often required.
A seasonal pitch is considered by many to be a happy medium between taking touring holidays in a caravan and purchasing a static unit. It involves paying ground rental for a plot within a caravan park for a given amount of time per year.
When the costs of storage are taken into account this is often a very economical measure for many caravan owners. However, the insurance requirements are slightly different from those of either a touring caravan or a static caravan and you will often have to adjust your policy if you choose to pursue this course of action.
Many insurance providers do not provide insurance for those using seasonal pitches. This means that many will have to switch providers. Your new provider will ask you for the post code of the site so that they can assess its security.
Has it got CCTV? Does it have a warden, a barrier, wheel clamps? All of these things are important to check before choosing a site as they may have a marked effect on the premiums you pay.
There are however a few providers who will require absolutely no changes in the amount of premiums you pay or coverage you receive when you choose to change to having a seasonal pitch. If this is something that you might consider in the future it is well worth researching these companies before purchasing your insurance.
The average cost of touring caravan insurance
It is impossible to put a meaningful figure on the average cost of touring caravan insurance because it can vary so much with the age and condition of your caravan and as a result of various details about the main owner and driver.
Normally, however, you can expect to pay somewhere between £200-£500 per annum with figures both higher and lower than this quite common in certain circumstances.
A caravan that is permanently stored in a highly safe location may cost £100-200, for instance. A caravan that is regularly touring on the continent with all of the necessary driver and accommodation coverage may cost well in excess of £500.
What is important to remember, however, is not the number attached to the annual premium but the amount that that is worth in terms of coverage.
Recent research by club care has shown that the average cost of a claim is 16 times the cost of the policy over the whole term. So, if you are careful to agree on a policy that is suitable to your needs you can guarantee that you are financially protected in the event that anything unfortunate were to happen.
Many caravan owners feel too embarrassed to haggle with insurance providers – until they realise the savings they could be making, that is. When you can knock hundreds of pounds off your yearly premiums with just a little bit more effort on the phone it seems silly to let embarrassment get in the way.
Although it may be considered unseemly to haggle over some purchases (a pint of milk, for instance) haggling over insurance is far from unheard of and if you aren’t doing so already then you’re missing out.
The first step to effectively haggling with caravan insurers is to do a proper online price comparison. The insurance quotes that you will receive online are generally quite a bit lower than those you will get on the phone at the first hurdle.
There are a number of reasons why insurers would want to encourage you to purchase online but these are irrelevant. The point is that once you have a list of online quotes from caravan insurers you will have a strong basis on which to call them up and haggle them down.
However, there is a way to haggle and a way not to haggle. The key seems to be to persuade the customer sales representative that you are very keen to purchase cover from them if they could only improve the deal slightly. With this approach, it is often possible to get them to reduce their quote by quite a long way simply by asking them to.
When you call up your first caravan insurance provider simply wait for them to give you a quote and then state that you feel that is a little too high, or a little way out of your budget. You may, at this point, want to mention if any of their competitors have a lower price online. They will then almost always drop the quote.
When they do this and offer a second quote, the trick is not to accept straight away. Thank them politely, ask them to put that quote on your file, and say that you will be calling them back after you have spoken to their competitors.
At this point, they are likely to try to keep you on the phone by offering you additional extras for free or possibly even dropping the price further.
Ask them to note down everything they are offering you on your file (and keep a record of your own on a piece of paper) but then go ahead and call their competitors anyway, saying you will call them back once you’ve taken a full assessment of the market.
After you have done this you should have some idea of the best provider in terms of value for money. Note that this may not always be the cheapest. The best value for money will be provided by the insurer who offers you the best ratio of money to cover.
Armed with this new information you can then call up your chosen insurer and ask them if they can beat the rest of the market on price.
Chances are that they are offering you more for less and will refuse to do so but there is a still an opportunity here to haggle. If they refuse, however, you can accept their offer in the full knowledge that you are getting the best deal on the market.
How to reduce insurance premiums by improving caravan security
As we have already mentioned above, it is often possible to reduce the cost of caravan insurance by improving certain security measures as some (though not all) providers will offer substantial discounts to those that do.
For instance, when your caravan is stored, not in use, or on a seasonal pitch, it is important to clamp its wheels and cover the tow bar with a hitch lock. Both of these measures will help dramatically reduce the risk of theft.
This is particularly important when you are storing your caravan outside your home or in a lock-up as these are possibly the two least secure locations for caravan storage.
Similarly, it is possible to install a tracker that would help police to locate your caravan if it were ever stolen. Whilst the previous two measures are frequently rewarded by insurers this one is likely to be as it is far less common and curative rather than preventative.
If you are only buying one of these in order to secure an insurance discount then it is worth inquiring with your insurer beforehand to be certain that one is offered.
Alternatively, you have a static caravan or are storing a touring caravan on a seasonal pitch then it is nonetheless important not to rely solely on the security measures of your caravan park. Insurers tend to like you to have installed a Thatcham-approved alarm, more as a deterrent than anything else.
Even more effective is a corner lock to secure the rear corner of the caravan to the ground. A caravan with both an alarm and a corner lock in a secure caravan park is likely to be considered relatively low risk by an insurance company and its owner rewarded with reduced premiums.
If, however, you are intending to adopt these security measures and your insurer does not offer you reduced premiums as a result then it may be worth considering a change of provider.
What Will My Caravan Or RV Insurance Cover?
While owning a caravan (RV) can make a road trip far more comfortable than it would be otherwise, picking the right caravan insurance can be a massive headache. On the surface, there is very little difference between the different products on the market. If you roll the dice with the wrong company, however, you may lose out in the event that something happens.
An equally bad idea is to try to add it to your regular car insurance policy. It’s the cheapest option available, but you get what you pay for. Normal insurance policies simply won’t cover the things that are specific to recreational vehicles, and if you want to protect your investment, you will need to figure out how to navigate the world of caravan insurance.
A Caravan is a Home On Wheels
Caravans come with all kinds of things you can’t get in a car. Refrigerators sink with running water, and awnings are just a few of these amenities. Regular auto insurance won’t cover these items. A good caravan insurance policy will, however, so be sure to ask potential providers if the insurance they are offering covers them.
Good Policies Will Replace the Vehicle
Good caravan insurance will provide a replacement if the vehicle is totaled. If you buy a new caravan, a good plan should provide a replacement for up to five years after your purchase. If you bought your caravan used or it’s past the five-year mark, you should be able to get a check for the purchase price of the vehicle.
A lot of policies will offer to replace a new caravan with a used one, but if that’s mainly what you are able to find, look for an insurer that would give you a check instead.
Emergency Cost Coverage
This is more for personal comfort than anything, but the last thing you’ll want to have to think about in the event of an accident is where you are going to stay and how you will pay for it. It’s worth paying a little extra for an insurance policy that will offer some peace of mind.
A Few Extras
If your company is offering to cover personal items within the vehicle, it’s well worth the extra cost. The items included under this umbrella range from clothing to jewelry to electronics.
Something else you’ll want to go for is towing coverage, and if the policy covers locksmithing services as well, that’s a huge benefit. RVs are such unique vehicles that you could end up paying a lot of money out of pocket to get it from one location to another if it breaks down.
Some policies will offer even more features, but look to cover the essentials first. You can worry about fine-tuning the minor details once you have quotes from a number of companies who offer policies that meet your needs.
Ultimately, the number of things your caravan insurance will cover is up to you. Make sure to balance quality with a price; it’s the best choice in the long run.