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Thousands more people are taking to a life on the open road, according to the National Caravan Council (NCC). Figures show that new motorhome registrations shot up by 20% last year, while sales of new tourer caravans stood at over 21,000.
In total, more than 40,000 new caravans and motorhomes came onto the roads over the course of the year.
Jenny Summers at NCC said: “More people are discovering the benefits that touring in a caravan or motorhome brings.” There are a few things to think about before your drive off into the sunset with your holiday home in tow, though.
As with any vehicle on the roads in the UK, for example, you will need adequate insurance in place. So here are our top tips on insuring your caravan or motorhome and staying safe on the roads.
Insuring your caravan or motorhome
So you’ve decided to join the millions of Britons who prefer staying in a caravan or a motorhome rather than a hotel or resort. Before you can get a taste of the freedom afforded by travelling this way, you’ll need to get your new vehicle insured… Let’s say you’ve bought a touring caravan, you’ll need caravan insurance offering:
- Personal possession & equipment cover – in case your belongings or stereo are stolen, for example
- Third party/public liability cover – should you damage or cause injury or death to a third party with your caravan
- New-for-old replacement cover – in case your caravan is damaged or stolen
- European cover – most caravan insurance policies provide cover for trips within the EU, subject to time limits.
If you’ve bought a motorhome, you’ll need to choose from three types of insurance:
- Third party cover – basic protection that pays out if you damage or injury to a third party
- Third party, fire and theft – also covers you should your motorhome be stolen or damaged by fire
- Fully comprehensive – also includes cover for damage to your motorhome and its contents, as well as European cover in many cases.
Travelling around in a motorhome or a caravan means you can more or less take your worldly belongings with you if you want.
But what happens if someone steals the vehicle with all your things in it? Many insurance policies will cover you for the theft.
But prevention is better than cure, so it’s worth making sure your caravan or motorhome is as secure as possible. Ways that you can do that include:
- Fit an alarm to prevent break-ins, or an immobiliser to stop would-be thieves driving your motorhome away
- Use a steering wheel or handbrake clamp to make life more difficult for thieves
- Have the vehicle registration number or VIN etched onto all the glass surfaces
- When leaving a caravan parked up, park with the A-frame away from the road use a wheel clamp to stop anyone else driving off with it
- When at a campsite, always lock all doors, windows and roof lights, and take any valuables and important documents with you when you go out
- Ask neighbouring caravanners to keep an eye on your caravan and offer to do the same for them
- Keep an eye on your caravan at service stations, where thieves can unhitch and drive off with it within seconds.
Happy caravanning – at home and away!
Thieves are not the only potential danger to your new caravan or motorhome. Driving a big vehicle or towing a caravan is very different to driving a normal car, meaning you could easily end up damaging it yourself if you’re not careful! So for happy travels:
- Fit extension mirrors to obtain a clear view when towing a caravan (and remove them when you are not).
- Never overload your caravan or motorhome
- Remember that when towing a caravan, your car will handle differently than normal, especially when braking, accelerating and cornering
- Allow extra space around you, especially when manoeuvring
- In fact, give yourself more time and space for everything, including accelerating
- Make sure your caravan displays your car’s registration and is illuminated at night
- If a queue of traffic is building up behind you, pull over somewhere safe to let it to pass
- Avoid towing in high winds.
And if you are off abroad:
- Research the road laws in the country or countries you plan to visit – including the speed limits and rules on wing mirror extensions and reflective markers
- Carry a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit
- Buy high-visibility vests if needed – Spain, Italy, Belgium and France require you to carry one in case of an accident or a breakdown
- Invest in at least one warning triangle – or two if you are towing a caravan in Spain, Croatia, Slovenia and Turkey.