Caravan Insurance It’s essential - but not compulsory. It’s seemingly expensive - until you need to make a claim. There’s far more to it than you’d think, but Caravan reveals all you’ll ever need to know about insurance
WORDS Nick Harding PICTURES National Caravan Council, Caravan Guard and Shield Insurance
et’s start at the beginning... time for a sit down. Relax. Make yourself a cuppa. Give yourself an hour or so research time and we reckon we can help you find the very best insurance package to protect you and your touring caravan.
Is caravan insurance compulsory?
Here, the honest answer is no. Legally, you do not have to have caravan insurance. Morally? There’s no debate, of course you should be covered. A couple of hundred quid provides thousands of pounds of cover for your van and its contents. However careful you are on the road or campsite, dire circumstances can always befall you. Only the biggest gambler would play with those odds. Insurance gives you the peace of mind that, no matter what happens to your pride and joy, you can afford to get it sorted – whether it’s your fault or not. 96
Plus, although actual thefts of caravans have decreased significantly, we can confirm that thefts from vans are on the up. That includes things like upholstery sets, windows and fittings like cassette toilets... basically, pilfering. It tends to take place in storage (albeit not those with CCTV) but, realistically, it can happen whenever a caravan is unattended and that includes when it’s on a holiday site.
have years of experience, they understand the market and the needs of caravanners. Also, if you’re a member of either the Caravan Club or Camping and Caravanning Club, you should definitely check out their offerings. If you’re not a member, it could mean factoring in the additional cost of the annual subscription. Caravan recommends calling at least three insurers to find the best offering.
Where do I find out more?
Can’t I just go down the street?
The next eight pages, for starters. Then, frankly, it’s the companies with the highest profile in terms of advertising and attending major shows etc, that are probably taking the caravan insurance market most seriously. Latest regulations mean your caravan dealer can’t specifically recommend a caravan insurance provider to you, though it can act as an ‘introducer’. So, let us be an introducer for you. We reckon the companies listed in the directory on pages 98/99 are all worth talking to. These specialist caravan insurers
By all means pop into your favourite broker. You never know... Our advice, however, is to deal with a provider that can demonstrate it knows and understands the caravan market and the specific needs of caravanners. You’ll get the fullest listing at defaqto.com. So, if you don’t read any further than this, at least we’ve made one thing clear: not insuring your caravan is a mug’s game, just like telling porkies on
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your application form. Insurers won’t pay out without checking all the paperwork, and if you’ve deliberately misled your broker, they may well refuse to pay-out any claim. That means you’ve paid out your premium, but were never really covered! Lunacy.
Do policies vary?
Yes, they most definitely do, not least for the fact that different providers use different underwriters. In fact, the more research you do, the more you spot the key, and often vital, differences. There are three main factors that affect the premium you pay for your insurance: ■ Your claims history ■ Safety and security ■ Your caravan’s value Lesser factors include: how/where you use your caravan, where you store it, and what you have in it. Read on...
If you’re only going to read one article about caravan insurance, make sure this is the one
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C L A I M
The what’s what of caravan equipment v personal effects One thing you need to be clear about is what is classed as caravan equipment and what are ‘personal effects’. You may need clarification on this (in writing) from your insurer. There is also a cross-over here with your home insurance. The main items (portable TV, laptop computer, camera etc) may already be covered by your household insurance, but it’s unlikely this will stretch to items like gas cylinders, water carriers (yes, these have been known to go missing on site...). It’s also worth noting that there’s always a maximum limit on what you can claim on an individual item. Caravan insurance will cover fixtures and fittings in relation to the caravan itself, including factory-fitted options. Contents or personal belongings refer to the stuff you put in the caravan itself. Again, this is a small-print exercise. If an item such as a flatscreen TV, say, is provided as a ‘fitted’ item as part of your caravan’s specification, just double-check whether it’s included in your caravan’s insurance cover.
How can we cut through the small print?
Stick with us. We’ll do our best to explain the key detail as we go.
What’s included in caravan insurance?
Your caravan insurance should cover you for loss of, or from, your caravan, plus damage to your caravan; all up to agreed levels. It will also cover you for public liability (should you be unfortunate enough to cause damage to something or someone else), again, this is up to a predetermined amount. We’ll discuss excess later, but that’s the sum you pay yourselves in the event of any claim, eg: if you have a £100 excess, you have to pay for the first £100 of the claim. It’s another way of keeping your overall premium down.
C O V E R
New For Old v Market Value
Insurance cover generally comes in three flavours: ■ Market value: This means your policy covers the cost of an equivalent replacement caravan if yours is stolen or destroyed. This takes into account the age and condition of your van. ■ New-for-old cover: With
this cover you will get a new replacement van of the same or equivalent model. ■ Guaranteed value: This is a good compromise, whereby you’ll need a dealer’s receipt to prove how much you’ve paid for your van, which typically could be any age up to around seven years. Here, the insurer will pay out an agreed amount, should the caravan be stolen and not recovered, or written off. The only other consideration with Guaranteed Value, is that it relies on the trade-price publication, Glass’s Guide, which sometimes doesn’t offer an accurate reflection of the price of the caravan. Then again, this could work in your favour when prices of pre-owned tourers are buoyant. We asked Club Car Insurance to give us a quote for a £15,000 Swift caravan using the three different pay-out options. Assuming maximum discount they were: Market value – £153.26 New for old (up to five years) – £153.26 New for old (up to 10 years) – £183.19 Guaranteed value (used vans only) – £164.54. (Definitions apply) Whatever the age and price of your tourer,
we think you’re best keeping the mind-set: ‘What I want is to be returned to the same position I was in before the incident.’
How can I pay?
One single payment for the year, or monthly instalments? The latter usually involves direct debit, which always leaves the onus on you to cancel it when the time is right. Most companies also charge a premium for the credit if you don’t pay in one go.
Do I need to beef up my security?
Definitely. It varies from insurer to insurer, but generally you should have at least a wheelclamp and hitchlock – and know exactly when you need to use them. You’ll enjoy further discounts if you invest in an alarm and/or tracking system – but, make sure they are approved by your insurer. Remember, you can be vigilant, without being a vigilante.
What security should I fit? Your insurer will have lists of ‘approved’ products, from hitchlocks to wheelcamps, all the
way through to alarms and state-of-the-art satellite tracking systems. Nothing’s completely thief-proof. There are YouTube videos of caravan thieves armed with Stihl saws and oxy-acetylene equipment, but good, visible security will deter the majority of thefts.
So, what are tracking devices?
Tracking devices use satellite technology to locate a stolen van, so, in most cases you’ll get a pretty good discount if you have one fitted. Make sure it is one that is ‘approved’ by your insurer. For example, some of the companies we contacted on page 98 don’t recognise the HAL-Locate system we have fitted to our forthcoming Adria Altea long-term test van, despite its high credentials as both a Sold Secure- and Thatcham-approved product.
What’s a secure compound?
Insurers will be looking for evidence of where you intend to keep your caravan when you’re not away touring. Ironically, keeping it on the drive at home isn’t necessarily the best option (thieves instantly know when you’re away from home, for starters). There’s more chance of a caravan
being stolen from a home driveway than anywhere else. CaSSOA is the Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (see cassoa.co.uk). Its sites are undoubtedly your best storage option, especially as many insurers give a premium discount if you use one (they are rated gold, silver and bronze). However, occupancy levels are already high, and fees can reflect this. There are other storage facilities that insurers will accept as ‘secure locations’, including campsites, of course.
If you’ve successfully completed an official caravan manoeuvring course (both clubs, or maybe others), you might be in line for a small discount. Likewise if you have Tyron Bands fitted to your caravan’s wheels, or AL-KO’s ATC Trailer Control system you might pay a lower premium.
Yes, look out for next month’s edition of Caravan mag. We’re going in-depth on security...
We already have fully-comp car insurance. My mate says that’s all we need
Car insurance only extends to third-party caravan cover. In other words, any damage you cause to someone else or their property. And only when attached to the car. So, if it’s in storage or on a campsite, it’s not covered. Ditto if you have a bump and it’s your fault. You’ll have to pay for your own repairs. Finally, the repatriation or delivery home of your caravan, if it is badly damaged, may not be covered by this insurance.
Are there restrictions on use?
Take it up with your insurer if you’re
considering using your caravan for anything other than leisure purposes. To that end, in most cases family and friends can use your van and your van’s contents and equipment will still be covered. However, if you’re thinking of hiring it out, that’s a whole different game. Also, double-check that your van is covered for touring abroad. NB: Remember, if you vacate your house for more than 30-days at a time to holiday in your van, your home insurance may actually be invalidated.
Could caravan insurance be mileage-based?
Interesting concept, but in reality – unlike a car – there’s no way of verifying the annual mileage of a caravan. In fact, most ‘accidents’ that involve damage to the caravan take place within three miles of home/storage compound. And, of course, the less experience you have as a caravanner the more likely you are to have a bump or two.
Insurance premiums seem to be going up, but aren’t thefts of caravans going down?
Yes, that’s true, but thefts of items from caravans – sadly, even on sites these days – is on the increase.
What’s this about ‘legal protection’?
Now, here’s an interesting one. Chances are, you’ve already signed up for legal protection or legal expenses on another insurance policy (car, home etc). Well, the good news here is it’s all encompassing, so no further payments are needed (nor, indeed should they be demanded). This insurance add-on is a legal expenses contract, which aims to recover uninsured losses and costs from the person responsible if your vehicle is accidentally damaged. It also means legal advice is available at all times. Some companies add the fee on
SE C U R I T Y
Caravan insurance What kinds of things are covered? Floods?
Actually, flood damage to tourers is more common than you might think – in storage as well as on site. Just check your cover.
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D A M A G E
automatically, then expect you to deselect it. “Bad insurance company!”
Is breakdown cover worth paying for?
Here’s another key area where policies vary widely. You need to check out what exactly is offered in terms of breakdown recovery, if any. Also, it’s not worth relying on your car’s breakdown policy only. Chances are, it won’t extend to recovering your caravan. There are also wide varieties in terms of cover for repatriation (of you and your family, as well as your caravan) and aspects such as alternative accommodation, should it prove impossible to use your van. Breakdown cover is often offered at reduced rates as part of an insurance package, so it’s worth considering, but check what’s covered.
We only paid £4000 for our caravan, and it’s probably only worth half that now. Is it still worth insuring? So, you’ve got £2000 in the bank to go and replace it? And what about any contents and special equipment? Not to mention if you have a scrape and it turns out to be your fault. You’ll surely get an insurance policy for as little as £100 here. And that must be worth it, if only for the peace of mind it affords.
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What about weather?
Definitely. Just occasionally, high winds are sufficient to blow an unattended caravan over (if it’s really exposed to the elements). Hailstones can cause damage, too, particular to a roof. Admittedly, this is more prevalent on the Continent.
What about holidays abroad?
Did you know only about a third of us go abroad in our caravans? Don’t pay for something you’re not going to use. Tell your broker if you don’t tour abroad.
I live in a nice suburb. That saved us some money on our car insurance. Why not the same for our caravan?
There are no postcode ratings when it comes to caravan insurance. But, if you think about it, that makes sense. More important is where you store your caravan.
What about discounts for Club membership? Surely club members use their caravans more than others, on average. Therefore, are they more likely to have a mishap?
Another interesting point, but they’re also more likely to look after their caravans. On the whole, club members tend to be more passionate and more committed, probably more akin to being in a classic car club. And statistically, they’re more careful. Equally, no doubt they caravan more. And probably get their van serviced regularly etc. I guess they don’t want to turn up on site in a battered caravan...
I’m a member of an owners club. Does this qualify me for any kind of discount on my insurance premium? Almost certainly yes. Many just ask about Caravan Club membership initially, so do
R I S K offer-up information if you belong to another membership organisation, including an owners’ club.
Does my age matter?
Certainly seems to. Nearly every insurance company will want to know your date of birth. Needless to say, the onus is on you to ensure you’re towing legally in the first place, and, for example, have taken the B+E test if you’re towing an outfit weighing more than 3500kg AND passed your driving test after 1 January 1997. Also, older caravanners should consider any age/medical restrictions. Failure to do so could result in a rejected claim.
A caravan insurance salesman speaks out lowing the gaffe on B the caravan insurance industry? Not
exactly. But, it certainly helps to be in the know. “When I see a smart new caravan I don’t think: ‘Wow! That’s nice.’ I think: ‘How much will it cost to replace that panel?’. Manufacturers simply don’t consider the cost of repairs, with some designs requiring very complex procedures. Guess who pays for it in the long run? “Ask about the claims service. The last thing you want is to be dealing with a call centre in deepest Mogadishu, with operators reading from a script and knowing so little about caravanning generally, that they couldn’t tell the difference between a Bailey Ranger and the Lone Ranger! “In fact, whichever ‘specialist’ caravan insurance provider you approach, just listen out to make sure they know their stuff. If they really don’t know what a Swift Charisma is, or ask you how to spell Elddis, I wouldn’t waste any more of my time and money... “Caravan insurance is essential – too many people still regard it as an option. If your caravan is damaged, stolen, broken into or the victim of fire, you will be the one who is out of pocket. “The average premium for touring caravan insurance is less than £200 and the average sum insured is £10,000. Think about it – is your chance of having some sort of incident less than one in 50? I don’t know any caravanner – myself included – who hasn’t bumped, scratched, or damaged their caravan (or worse) at some point in time. “Caravanning is actually a very safe and fun-filled activity, so we all just need to take a few steps to ensure it stays that way. An entire auxiliary industry has grown up around caravan security, but too much of it is about charging people fortunes for devices that ultimately, can all be beaten. The manufacturers have a duty to secure their products better, not leave it to the aftermarket. The car industry had the same issues years ago and makers took steps to improve basic security. The only real example of the caravan industry working as one was the introduction of the AL-KO Secure Lock system. “As for these price comparisons websites. You are just adding another middle man to take a further slice of commission, so how can it be the best deal? It’s certainly not Simples and it’s often Confusing!”
21 brokers Caravan magazine recommends
Quick Quotes... you can quote us on that!
aravan is running an Adria Altea 432PX on long-term test for the coming 2012 season. It’s an Exclusive version from the UK’s leading Adria dealer, Venture Caravans. Venture adds around £1500 of extras to its value (which we’ve rounded up to £13,000) and includes an AL-KO hitch stabiliser. We’re intending at least a couple of trips abroad this year and we’re having a HALLocate tracking system fitted. We’re also using Venture’s own dedicated securestorage facilities. We need some insurance cover, of course. So, we went quote-gathering... When asked, we said we had an awning worth £400. We wanted contents cover for around £1000. And we looked for an excess as near as we could get to £150. When asked, we also went for replacement on a Market Value basis rather than New
For Old. We’re also members of both the Caravan Club and Camping and Caravanning Club. We phoned or went online, as appropriate. One interesting point: we made our calls by mobile phone. A lot of the companies we called had 08XXX numbers, which can work out rather pricey when you don’t have access to a landline or if they don’t offer a call-back facility. We’ve also added the Defaqto rating for each insurer, although do note these ratings are based on how comprehensive a policy is, and don’t take into account customer service, claims handling, etc. Where there is no rating, it’s because Defaqto hasn’t got around to reviewing them yet, but do visit defaqto.com/star-ratings/caravan-insurance for more information or to compare up to four policies at a time.
Simple Caravan Insurance
Just as an indication of the savings you can make, Towergate told us that with no security devices fitted other than a wheelclamp and hitchlock, also using non-secure storage, the premium could have been as high as £289.53. In reality, and based on the storage, tracking system and other details as listed above, we were able to get it down substantially. Sample Quote £156.45
Shield openly offers a callback facility for phone users, but we went online. Total sum insured was £15,400, up to 180 days in Europe, and we increased the excess from the standard £100 to £175. Our quote was with legal protection removed, and we would have been very tempted to take out the key cover option at a further £10.50. Our online quote was followed up instantly by two emails, confirming registration and the quote details. Sample Quote £188.08
Again, we went for a quote online here (flagged up as being at a 25 per cent discount), opting for the Vanguard 1 Annual level (out of four). Our HAL-Locate was not one of the company’s approved tracking systems and because storage wasn’t at a Gold-rated CASSOA address we couldn’t get any discount here, either, although we could for Caravan Club membership. Quick and easy. Sample Quote £223.16
Asked a lot of questions online, including estimated mileage. Simple claims one in three of those quoted pay a premium of less than £135. Here we went for the Premier policy (flanked by Essential and Premier Plus) at a Market Value rate, which gave us up to 180 days abroad and up to £500 each for hotel accommodation, replacement hire, and recovery and delivery costs. We kept our contents cover to £1000 and upped the excess from an initial £100 to its next level, £250. Sample Quote £194.65
(and no, they don’t all advertise!!) Mobile Homes Insurance Services
The 2gether website lists caravan insurance under Other Products, where its opening page contained a slightly-embarrassing number of misspellings. The online form was obviously a straight lift from the automotive side, asking about make and model of the car, annual mileage etc. Sample Quote £None supplied
A bit frustrating to go online, complete a very detailed but perfectly logical questionnaire, only to be told more details were needed and to phone direct on an 0800 number. Sample Quote £tbc
Filled in the form online. It only accepted Phantom tracker systems. There was an instant (unsolicited) phone call back from Tony, to ask a few more questions about the storage and offer a premium of £210 discounted to £190. There was also an email back, but this referenced the online quote, whose details we were told were no longer valid. Our quote included £100 excess, salvage and recover and alternative accommodation of up to £75 a day, plus up to 240-days European touring. Sample Quote £190
Doesn’t cover foreign-manufactured caravans (our Adria’s from Slovenia). Sample Quote £n/a
Insure my caravan
An online quote station, this brought up quotes from nine providers/underwriters and also came back with an email detailing the lowest price quote. Sample Quotes £269.36 to £500.69
One Quote Direct
All done online, we went for a £150 excess and 90 days European touring cover. Sample Quote £290.18
Insurance 4 my caravan
Offered three levels of cover online, but couldn’t give us a quote unless we agreed to have an alarm fitted. When we did, it quoted us, but only on monthly payments. Sample Quote £23.65 (monthly; equals £283.80 for the year)
Offers an ‘online quote service’, but this meant filling in your contact details and requesting a call back. Sample Quote £Not followed up
Our four-berth Adria just missed its ‘no European caravans’ exclusion. We went online and got an instant quote Sample Quote £245.29
Another interesting one to compare and contrast. Without secure storage, tracking system or stabiliser, it could have been as much as £322. Caravan Guard reckoned the caravan and contents plus awning etc was worth just shy of £15,000, and the premium included a 10% discount for booking online. Sample Quote £223
Generally rated as a provider of competitive quotes, it wasn’t the case this time around, we suspect because of the Adria’s status as an import. The website here leads you to a Free Callback facility. Sure enough, we had an almost instant, automated return call but were then put on hold for some three minutes before a human operator was available. Good music, though! Sample Quote £485
All online, but definitely the lengthiest process we encountered, with one question even asking when our household insurance was up for renewal Sample Quote £210.80
Our quote was arranged online, with a £100 excess. We went for Silver over Gold. Remember, Saga is for over-50s only (OK, we lied about our age...) Sample Quote £235.02
Thistle Insurance Services
Thistle’s Tourer Select insurance policy offers a new-for-old quote with a £100
excess. The caravan has to be kept at an authorised location and have a Tracker fitted. Sample Quote £226.25
There’s no online facility to get a quote here, although there is a callback service for phone users. We called direct, and got asked a lot of questions about where the caravan was going to be stored as well as who else we had asked for a quote. The phone call lasted some 12 minutes, including two where we were put on hold while a quote was retrieved. Our quote was based on a £50 excess and up to 90 days touring abroad. Sample Quote £238.81
Phone as many insurers as possible to find those that best suit your individual circumstances
We also contacted both Clubs (posing as members)…
C&CC Club Care
It’s quite a detailed online form here, but the quote below was for a standard excess of £100, European cover for up to 240 days, total value insured £15,900. Sample Quote £226.51
We went for the Standard policy here, which includes contents cover of up to £1000, foreign use for up to 28 days etc. We were also given the option of paying monthly at £23.46. Sample Quote £265.97
What does all this
It pays to do some research . Time was tight, so we fo und we had to work out for ourselves which was th e most timeeffective way of getting to a quote – phone or onlin e. It definitely varies from insurer to insu rer. above followed Nearly every company up with a cour phone call or tesy email, when w e were asked if we ha d any further questions. There was no ‘hard sell’, alth ough we did feel it was a bit cheeky when a few asked who el se we’d appr oach how much th ey’d quoted us ed and for. Treat these as outline quotes further invest , to be igated before you come to a final decision .
ut... r, a new Watchavoan Quote ..for Car rison website online compa ed by being launch rance. Towergate Insu
The queen of caravan insurance speaks her mind
eet Mrs Caravan Insurance. Lesley Coell heads up the insurance team at the Caravan Club, the UK’s largest caravan insurer. But, she also does a whole lot more than that. Caravan asks the questions
“First, a bit of history. You really are Mrs Caravan Insurance. How long have you been involved in the sector? How long as Head of Insurance at the Caravan Club?” “Well, I first joined the Club in 1973, working in its Insurance department when the Club was based in Mayfair, London. This was one year after the launch of 5Cs – just in time for the first renewal cycle. I should say at this point that I was a precocious child and was actually just nine years old at the time! “Seriously, 5Cs (the Caravan Club’s insurance scheme) is
How many caravans does the Club insure?
To answer this gives away sensitive business information! But, I can say that I believe the Club administers the largest caravan insurance scheme in the UK, maybe even in Europe. Needless to say, we arrange the insurance for a high percentage of our members’ caravans.
What makes your insurance different?
The Club is of course a club in the true sense of the word – it is a club running a business not a business running a club. Yes, it derives income from providing insurance services to its members, but any surplus is ploughed back into the Club helping to develop products and services for all members. We have no shareholders to pay. Also, the products are developed by caravanners for caravanners and the focus is always upon providing wideranging cover at a competitive price.
You’re not the cheapest...
As a Club owned and operated by members for members, our focus is to provide insurance cover to all members. So, we don’t cherry-pick risks – the cover is designed to be available to as many members as possible. It takes account of the very varied requirements of members – some have high-value vans with lots of security – others have low value vans and minimal security. As a membership organisation, feedback is frequent and we actively use it to inform product development, policy cover and service to ensure that we continue to meet expectations. Over the years, the Club has developed very strong relationships with numerous claims handlers and insurers – the success of the scheme is underpinned by wider experience of the market in which we operate, and it allows us to be proactive in ensuring cover continues to match our members’ high expectations.
40-years old this year – our Ruby Anniversary – and I have been with the scheme, ermmm…‘man and boy’! I started as a temporary contract clerk – only intending to stay a couple of weeks. I have always lived in Crawley, West Sussex, so when I left school I decided to work in the ‘exciting smoke’ that was London. I can only say that, having found my perfect job, I was extremely disappointed when the Club decided to relocate to East Grinstead in 1975, which was only seven miles from my home. East Grinstead felt like a remote backwater after the sophistication of Bond Street! “As the department grew, I progressed to team manager. Then, following a reorganisation, to product manager and then to Head of Insurance and Financial Services, with responsibility for all of the Club’s insurance offerings.”
Has the market changed over the years?
Actually, in some ways very little and in others hugely. I can remember when 5Cs was launched it had four Sum Insured bandings – ranging from £600 to £1500 – and the premium ranged from £2 to £12. We insured toilet tents as part of caravan equipment, caravans were lit by gas light and had glass windows – some would say those days were far more romantic as everyone looks fabulous in muted light! While the number of caravans has not increased significantly, how they are built and what they contain has changed hugely. We have built-in electrics, flushing toilets, TV, satellite dishes, microwaves, motor movers, fixed beds, bathrooms with showers, anti-snaking devices, tracking devices and all manner of security. I always look forward to the next development.
It must be hard turning down a claim from a Club member. But, I guess it does happen... How do you manage that situation? It is rare that a claim is declined and, if it is, there is always good reason. Proper explanation will always be given to the policyholder. While they may be disappointed, we would hope that they would fully understand the reasons.
Any new initiatives for this season?
Suffice it to say that we plan to stay abreast of industry and technology development. Initiatives are in the back room – say, in the claims handling. We constantly work to ensure that members receive great service.
Any advice for caravanners regarding insurance? Should they “shop around”?
Everyone should read the policy documents to ensure they understand. If they have any queries about the cover or anything at all, they should ask their provider to clarify the situation for them. The majority of providers go to great lengths to ensure documentation is clear and easy to understand, only to have policyholders not read it. Apply the same logic to buying insurance that you would to any purchase you may make. Be sure what you are buying does
what you want it to – so yes, you could shop around if there is something particular you are looking for in terms of cover. Insurance cover varies between providers, so don’t wait until you are making a claim to check that you have the right one for you.
And the most amazing claim you’ve handled?
I don’t usually like to talk about funny claims, because what others may think funny arises as a result of someone’s misfortune. I think the explosion at the Buncefield fuel depot near Hemel Hempstead stands out in my mind. Unfortunately some 450 caravans were stored very near to the facility and the explosion had interesting consequences. It was the first time that many of us had experienced caravan damage by ‘implosion’. I don’t pretend to be a scientist, or to be able to properly explain the effect of the blast, but I am told it created a huge drop in air pressure, so while the vans looked fine on the outside, the blast had caused them to flex, and inside the wallboards had detached and, of course, with it the furniture etc was also torn apart. The other memorable event was the 1987 ‘hurricane’ that affected the south of England. Damage was so significant we were just asking policyholders to take a photo of what was left of the van and send it with the claim form. But, these are catastrophe-type events, so, fortunately, we have very few of them.
We recently settled a £45,000 caravan loss claim. We have had larger claims but these relate to physical injury/death attached to Personal Accident and Liability sections of the cover. Not nice to deal with or discuss, but these things happen and the insurance is there to provide protection.
Run-of-the-mill, small impact type incidents – hitting a gatepost, damage from awning poles, broken windows, panel damage etc. So, high-frequency, low-cost impact events.
The perfect insuree?
The Club scheme is rated primarily on the sum insured, so occupation, address, type outandaboutlive.co.uk
of caravan does not currently drive the underlying rate. So I would have to say the perfect insuree is... any Caravan Club member! We do aim to be able to provide cover to suit all members’ needs. We do not cherry pick the best risks – but accommodate as many as we can.
Is there anything that folk can do to keep their premiums down?
The ultimate cost of insurance is driven by claims experience – there has to be enough money in the pot to pay the claims. The Caravan Club and 5Cs claims-handlers work hard to manage claims, with the aim of keeping down the cost of insurance for caravanners. We work alongside manufacturers, police, dealers and suppliers, taking practical action where we see trends.
You also serve on a number of other key bodies in the caravan industry...
Many years ago, the Club instigated the formation of a group of insurers called CITARG (Caravan Insurers Theft and Accident Research Group), who met periodically to discuss issues affecting caravan insurance and caravanners. Its remit was to work behind the scenes to keep down the cost of caravanning; more specifically, the cost of caravan insurance for caravanners. I acted as chair on that body for some years. When Tony Blair was in power, he focused on reducing crime and I then sat on the Leisure Sector group of the government’s VCRAT initiative. The aim of this group, with the support of the Home Office, was to contribute to crime reduction initiatives. This group subsequently morphed into CSSG (Caravan Security and Safety Group) of which I am currently chair. The aim here is to continue the good works of VCRAT, continuing to promote caravan security and safety initiatives, providing impartial and practical advice to caravanners. It works in partnership with the Association of Chief Police Officers Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS) funding a dedicated resource working on caravan security and safety. I represent The Caravan Club, working alongside colleagues from the AVCIS, the National Caravan Council and the Camping and Caravanning Club.
Spare time? What do you do in that?
Hmmm… I am a caravanner – not as active as I would like to be, but, I spend my summer holidays in Dorset. I also seem to spend a lot of time at the gym, not that it does me much good. I can’t afford to go out – I support a daughter at University! I rarely make New Year’s resolutions, but I have for 2012. I intend to get away more – whether it be in the van, a city break or just to visit friends. outandaboutlive.co.uk
company profile Defaqto
efaqto is an independent finance D research company that started looking at caravan insurance back in 2010.
It confirms that there are huge variances in what different policies cover. However, by applying its Star Ratings to each policy, ranging from 1 for basic to 5 for the most comprehensive, it says it lets caravanners make instant comparisons. Here are other things to consider. ■ Caravan replacement basis (new for old cover) – 80% of policies will replace lost, stolen or badly damaged caravans with a new equivalent version as standard; however, policies vary widely in terms of the max caravan age allowable for this provision to apply, from six to 240 months. ■ Awning cover – 76% of policies will cover awnings as standard, with a further 15% providing cover for an additional premium. Of these, almost 34% limit cover to a monetary amount, with cover ranging from £500 to £2500. Of those products which do provide awning cover, 29% of these will not cover theft from the awning. ■ Contents cover – 77% of caravan products will cover your contents whilst in your caravan, however, 86% apply a single article limit (where providers will not pay over a certain amount for a single item). It is important to understand the difference between Contents and Equipment cover within your insurance policy, as insurers can define these elements differently. Equipment cover will usually insure items related to the use of the caravan such as fixtures and fittings. Examples of these would be: Gas bottles, batteries, stabilisers, generators and fridges. Contents cover however relates to household and personal items that belong to you and are articles of personal use. ■ Touring Abroad 92% of current policies provide Euro cover as standard with a further 3% offering this cover as an optional extension. Of those that include this cover as standard, the number of days touring abroad that is allowed can range widely from 30 days up to 365 days per year. Only 27% include cover for the costs of repatriation. ■ Breakdown/Replacement 94% of products will provide cover towards the costs incurred for the recovery and removal of the caravan to a repairer. However only 41% will cover the costs incurred in arranging an alternative unit following an incident. Costs for alternative accommodation following an insured incident are covered by 88% of policies with the total benefit limits ranging from £300 up to £3500. ■ Discounts Ensure you make the insurer aware of what security you have within your
caravan. 38% of polices provide an alarm discount, while 66% will discount your premium if you have a tracker fitted. ■ Security Requirements 98% of current policies include certain security requirements to ensure cover in the event of a claim. 5% require a wheelclamp to be fitted or at least one wheel to have been removed from the caravan, whilst 85% of products will require you to have a hitch lock and wheel clamp fitted. ■ Focus on features not just price Pinpoint the features you need from an insurance policy and identify the policies that provide that cover. Although important, price should not be the primary basis for comparison. After all, buying the cheapest cover available could end up being the most expensive option if it doesn’t provide the cover that you need. ■ What’s important to you? Whilst most of us hope we never need to make a claim, it is important that we consider what we would need if we had to. Taking time to think about what would be the most important aspects to you when claiming, means you can find a policy that can provide you with those things if the worst should happen. ■ Basis of Cover The basis on which cover is offered under a Caravan insurance policy may be categorised as one of the following: ● ‘Specified perils’ – covers loss or damage caused by certain risks, which will be listed within the terms and conditions. ● ‘All risk’ – covers all loss or damage. ● ‘Accidental damage’ – covers loss or accidental damage in addition to the risks listed within the terms and conditions. Understanding the differences between these and exactly what your policy will cover you for, is essential to ensure you choose a policy which covers what you would expect. ■ Other Insurance Always check what insurance cover you may have in place elsewhere to ensure you aren’t paying for the same or similar cover elements twice. Many home insurance policies for example now provide cover for personal possessions (items which you normally carry with you) and so cover for this may not be required under your caravan policy. Indeed, having double insurance may complicate claims and, of course, you can’t claim twice.
DON’T MISS Caravan’s Secu Special, next mrity onth April 2012
Everything you need to know about choosing, buying and minimising the premium on your caravan insurance.