It’s useful to start by checking your existing motor policy as this will most likely include some elements of insurance cover for your caravan, at least while in transit.
You might, as I did, discover that your existing car insurance does not cover you while towing. During my ensuing discussion with the company I discovered that they were also not in a position to offer this cover even though I was happy to pay for it.
A swift telephone call later I changed insurance companies and I’m now covered to tow, in addition to my van, a trailer or a broken down vehicle. This works only on a third party basis however and if want, which I do, to have comprehensive cover on the van itself then we must go to a separate company.
The following therefore is a checklist that you may find useful:
Driving Licence: Check your driving licence to ensure that it allows you to tow a caravan. If not, upgrade your licence before setting out.
Motor Policy: Check your existing motor policy to confirm that you are covered to tow a caravan. If you find that you’re not you may be in trouble a) if you have an accident and b) if you are stopped on the road and have your documents examined by the Police. Confirm what kind of cover is provided under your car policy. This is a useful exercise because it may save you some money in the following steps.
Caravan Insurance Policy: Decide what kind of insurance you want for your caravan; At a basic level you need to consider the replacement value of the unit itself taking into account it’s current age. It may be useful here to chat with your dealer in order to arrive at a true market replacement value. Third party indemnity should also be considered as a basic option & this will cover you for damage to others or to their property while the van is not being towed.
Consider the following:
Structure: Insure the structure of the unit for as close to the replacement value as you you can get. Consider the price. If your van is new you will be aware of how much you paid for it. Otherwise chat with your dealer or look at the price that people are expecting to be offered for older caravans on places like e-bay. Have a look also at the dealers second-hand lists as this will help to give you a very accurate figure for what you can expect to pay for your year and model.
Contents: For a while we didn’t insure our contents, thinking that all we have in there are a few bits and pieces of essential living equipment, a few maps and a paperback or two for wet days. Then one day we decided to have a look and calculated that it would cost more money than we were prepared to lose to replace everything in the van. In fact if we were to replace all the stuff that we carry around if would put a sizable dent in the budget available for replacing the unit at the time of the next trade-in. Consider your television and satellite kit, one or two laptops, cameras, mobile phone and binoculars. Suddenly the need for a little more protection becomes more pressing.
Awning: Thankfully our awning has never suffered damage that we needed to claim for & we have had many types over the years. We started out with the full, closed awning, which reminded me too much of the old days, pitching the tent. We therefore moved to a simpler roll out Fiamma Zip, a shop front type awning which keeps the ground dry, and provides some shade. This, the zip version, also has sides which turn it into a porch. I deal more with this subject on the awnings resource page, so for now lets see if we can decide whether or not they should be included in our insurance package. A quick glance shows awnings starting at prices of €300/250 and going on to cost over €/£1,000. Again taking into account your trade-in budget, a damaged or missing awing at these prices will have a significant impact on it. Make sure it is included in your policy.
Third Party Indemnity: We do need to consider what happens if our caravan or motor home becomes the cause of damage to other peoples property, or the cause of injury to others. Of course we take all the measures necessary to avoid this happening, but in the case of something going wrong it is good to know that this aspect is also dealt with.
Towing: In addition to confirming before you set out that you are covered by your motor insurance to tow a caravan, you should also satisfy yourself that each aspect of your caravan insurance remains in force while your unit is in transit. In order to get where we are going we obviously need to tow the things. In addition it won’t do any harm to ask if all our insurances remain in force while we are, for instance, on board the ferry or the on a deck in the Euro Tunnel.
Going Abroad: Many, if not all insurers both of your tow vehicle and of your caravan will apply limits to the period of time that you will be insured while abroad. It is a good idea, especially if going for longer than the standard two or three weeks to check this out before you go.
Permanent Residence: If you are lucky enough to be taking to the roads for an extended holiday of weeks, months or even years do check carefully that you are not considered to be using your unit as a permanent residence. You may find that you you will need to make new arrangements to cover your extended plans.
Excess: The excess is the amount you have to pay before the insurance company will start to pay out & in the case of caravan insurance is usually very low. My current policy excess is €65.00 and the storm excess is €130.00
As New: These policies will replace your unit if it is written off & they will do so on an as-new basis. You need to check that this is included in your policy and that you are paying a sufficient amount for this level of cover.
As usual if there is anything that you would like to know about that I haven’t covered here, simply get in touch and I’ll do my best to find the information for you.
My Insurance Resource Pages has links to a number of insurers who will be happy to answer questions and to provide you with the quotations you need and, in addition, this page will give you some information on motorhome and towcar breakdown assist.