With interest in motorhomes from all age groups having revved up during the staycation boom, there are now nearly a quarter of a million owners in the UK.
A realisation that few holidays are better suited to self-contained accommodation and social distancing has fuelled demand for all types of these vehicles, from converted campervans to hotels on wheels.
But many buyers have unsuitable insurance, with standard vehicle policies that cost more and with poorer cover than those available from specialist providers. As the cost of the average new motorhome is now around £60,000, this can be an expensive mistake.
Lee Stephenson and his wife Nicola took out a £309-a-year specialist policy
Why we chose specialist policy
A wheel clamp and two alarms proved no obstacle to the thieves who helped themselves to Lee Stephenson’s motorhome in February when it was parked behind his brother-in-law’s house. No one heard a sound.
But thanks to a £309-a-year specialist policy that he took out with Caravan Guard when he bought the second-hand vehicle for £38,000 in 2017, the 58-year-old carpenter was fully refunded within ten days.
This enabled him to get an equivalent motorhome in time to fulfil a couple of scheduled staycation breaks with his wife Nicola, also 58, and Cockapoo, Bert.
He received £38,000 for the loss of the vehicle and a further £5,000 for contents, which ranged from furniture and an awning to a satnav and two TVs.
Lee, who lives in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, says: ‘I did plenty of research online and chose Caravan Guard because I wanted the peace of mind of knowing that most of my motorhome contents were covered and that if I broke down I would get alternative accommodation and my vehicle relayed home.’
Many owners of smaller motorhomes simply add their vehicles to standard car or van insurance policies, while those with larger holiday homes on wheels often cover them via highly restrictive basic policies badged as motorhome cover by well-known motor insurers.
A particular drawback of these alternatives is that they tend to offer minimal contents cover, sometimes as little as £100. But the value of the personal possessions and equipment on board is normally far greater. Awnings alone can cost from £1,500 to £2,500.
However, a number of specialist insurance providers, most of which don’t appear on comparison websites, offer much higher contents limit. For example, £5,000 with Caravan Guard, Comfort Insurance and Shield Total Insurance, and £3,000 with Adrian Flux Insurance Services. The extra cover is hugely important in the light of a recent boom in thefts.
Caravan Guard has experienced a doubling of theft claims during the past five years and expects this year to be its worst ever for claims. Thieves are able to get round even the most modern security safeguards.
Scott Goodliffe, product and underwriting manager at Adrian Flux Insurance Services, says: ‘Thieves have devices that can copy the signal of an electronic motorhome key, open the vehicle and start it without triggering the alarm.’
Specialist insurers can also offer numerous other benefits not available on inferior policies.
These include cover for gas explosions, alternative accommodation, repatriation and specialist breakdown cover – standard breakdown cover normally has weight and length restrictions that exclude motorhomes from being relayed.
Ben Cue, general manager at Comfort Insurance, says: ‘When you’re buying a motorhome, you’re buying a holiday, and we can make sure you keep your vehicle on the road during that time. Our network of repairers can at least do temporary repairs to keep you roadworthy and then do the full repair at the end of your trip.’
Their ability to offer unlimited or very generous windscreen cover, which applies to all glass on the vehicle, is also important, as standard motor policies often restrict this to a few hundred pounds. Windscreen claims, which can be as high as £8,000 on deluxe vehicles, account for nearly half of all motorhome claims.
All specialists have slight differences in their policy cover, and some offer several types of policy, so it is important to select the right one for your needs.
Average annual premiums, at around £350, undercut most standard motor policies because specialist insurers know the average motorhome only travels around 5,000 miles a year.
Specialist providers: Caravan Guard (caravanguard.co.uk, 01422 396860); Comfort Insurance (comfort-insurance.co.uk, 020 8984 5327); Shield Total Insurance (shieldtotalinsurance.co.uk, 0800 393966); Adrian Flux Insurance Services (adrianflux.co.uk, 0800 089 0035).