- 1 Introduction
- 2 Why is security so important?
- 3 Keeping your caravan secure
- 4 Checklist
- 5 Insuring your caravan
- 6 Wheel clamps and hitchlocks
- 7 CRiS
- 8 Specialist providers
- 9 Storing your ‘van
- 10 Conclusion
Updated 7th June 2016
Whether it is at the beginning of new season or as it draws to a close, the security and storage of your caravan is likely to be a year-round concern.
As the days get longer and the weather warms up, you are likely to be preparing your caravan for this year’s outings and holidays, when security on the move and safe storage in between trips are important considerations; once the season is done and you are thinking of over wintering your caravan, you thoughts are likely to focus even more keenly on the longer-term security and safe keeping of the storage facilities you choose.
In this short guide, therefore, it might be helpful briefly to review:
- why the ongoing security of your caravan is likely to be important;
- the ways and means for keeping it secure;
- the key issues affecting the insurance of your caravan;
- questions revolving around the longer-term storage of the caravan; and
- the factors you might want to take into account when choosing a storage site.
Security issues and the safe storage of your caravan may become almost a state of mind – an attitude that keeps to the fore the importance of reducing the risks of loss or damage to your caravan whether it is in use or temporarily laid up.
Risk reduction like this not only helps you avoid the time, trouble and inconvenience of having to put right losses and damage that threaten to spoil the enjoyment of your holiday, but may also be part of the straight forward, common sense, but no less essential precautions your insurer has every reason to expect
Why is security so important?
According to vehicle tracking specialists Tracker, there are between 1,600 and 4,000 thefts of caravans each year – and that does not include the many others that have been subject to vandalism, attempted theft, forced entry or theft of contents.
Against this background, therefore it simply makes sense to do whatever you can to maintain a high level of caravan security whether it is in use or going into storage. You are likely to have invested a substantial amount in the vehicle, and one of the best ways of protecting that investment is to guard against the risks and perils to which it is exposed.
This remains true even though you have sensibly arranged caravan insurance – from ourselves here at Cover4Caravans for example. It is acknowledged in insurance circles that an insurer has the right to expect the insured to take every reasonable precaution in mitigating the risk of loss or damage
Insurers might typically react in a number of different ways when assessing the efforts made by a caravan owner to improve security and to seek safe storage facilities:
- the offer of discounts on premiums for those owners who have gone the extra mile in demonstrating in practice their awareness of guarding against loss, damage or theft;
- reducing the amount paid out in any claim where the insured may consider to have been responsible for contributory negligence; or
- in the most serious cases of the insured’s flagrant disregard for common sense security precautions, or a failure to take security measures specifically mentioned in the insurance documents, might decide to decline the claim altogether.
Further discussion of the security measures you might take and some of the considerations to keep in mind when insuring your caravan now follow – the principal message, however, that caravan security and safe storage are both important issues in safeguarding the investment you have made in the purchase of your caravan and your ability to continue to enjoy your outings and holidays in it.
Keeping your caravan secure
Doors and windows
Just as at home, some of the principal points of vulnerability are likely to be the doors and windows of your caravan. Care for windows and doors may be as simple as checking that they lock securely and firmly and are maintained in that state.
For additional security, however, you might also want to consider deadlocks, over-locks, which fit over the standard locks, bolts on doors (if there is space and you have no objection to installation that requires drilling into the fabric of your caravan, or the kind of door frame lock described and sold by the Caravan Shop).
If an intruder manages to force open a door or window to gain entry, you might be glad of an intruder alarm that will warn you or anyone else within earshot.
A further development on a similar theme might be the installation of motion detectors.
The best security you are likely to be able to give to items of particular value is simply to make sure that you do not leave them if at all possible in your unattended caravan.
There may be occasions, however, when taking items such as cash or jewellery with you when visiting the local tourist spots may in fact put them at greater risk. In that case, you might want to consider installing a safe – typically in the floor of the caravan so that it is not at all obtrusive, takes up little precious space and may be suitable for smaller sized valuables.
The big difference between keeping your home suitably protected and your caravan secure, of course, is that the latter is highly mobile – the whole point in owning a touring caravan after all.
There are a number of security devices, therefore, which aim to immobilise your caravan in order to prevent thieves making off with it.
The hitchlock, for example, works on the very simple principle of covering and locking the hitching device through which your caravan is hooked up to your car. With the hitchlock firmly in place, no one else is able to hitch up your caravan and tow it away.
On the same theme, wheel clamps do just as they say, and clamp the wheels of your caravan, effectively locking them into place and preventing them from rotating.
There are two basic designs of wheel clamp:
- some cover the whole of the wheel to lock it into place; and
- others rely on the insertion of bolts through gaps in the wheel.
Since not all types and design of wheel clamp are compatible with every type of caravan wheel, it is important to check the make and model you are buying for suitability.
Industry sources report that tracking devices have a proven track record in tracing stolen caravans so that they may be recovered.
The devices rely on present-day GPS technology to track your caravan’s whereabouts and report the position to a control centre. If the caravan is then moved with out your knowledge or authorisation the control centre is able to alert you and you may decide whether or not to inform the police.
The Camping and Caravanning Club publishes a useful checklist of security issues, including not only those measures also described, but also mentioning such items as etching registration numbers on windows, marking your postcode on the roof of the caravan and on fittings and equipment inside, and recording the serial numbers of fittings in the interior of the caravan.
There is also a coded number and letter combination called a Skytag which is stencilled in vinyl roof of your caravan and can be read by police helicopters and other security cameras to assist recovery if it is stolen.
Insuring your caravan
As may have become clear, therefore, there is a close connection between the security and safe storage of your caravan, and the insurance you arrange.
Some measure you might be required to take in order to keep any insurance cover valid, whilst others might help to win your valuable reductions in the cost of the premiums you pay.
Wheel clamps and hitchlocks
An example of a common security requirement, for instance, is the insistence of your fitting both wheel clamps and a hitchlock whenever you leave your caravan unattended but still hooked up to the towing vehicle. Wheel clamps are then also typically required whenever the caravan is left unattended but unhitched from the towing vehicle.
For many insurers, this might be considered to be such a basic security precaution that if you fail to adopt the required measures, any claim for theft, loss or damage might be declined.
A further security measure is registration under the Central Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS) for touring caravans.
This is a registration scheme operated by the National Caravan Council (NCC) and involves the issue of a unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) which, together with a description of the caravan is offered to the owner as a registration document (much like the “log book” that comes with your car), with the details also kept on the main records of CRiS.
Since 1992 all members of the NCC have been obliged to register their products under the auspices of CRiS and, since 1992, have also been required to electronically tag the caravan with the same VIN, which is etched on the windows of the caravan and onto its main chassis.
Owners of caravans built prior to 1992 may also apply for CRiS registration.
So useful has CRiS proved to verifying and tracing registered owners of caravans that some insurers insist on registration as a condition of insurance. Others may recognise the security value of the scheme by granting a discount on premiums for registered caravans.
Perhaps the single most important aspect to arranging your caravan insurance is to do so with providers who know what they are talking about and who are able to display an expert knowledge of this niche of the insurance market.
You might want to make sure, therefore, that you arrange your cover through specialist insurance provider – such as those of us at Cover4Caravans. You can read our guide to caravan insurance by clicking here.
Storing your ‘van
For some hardy souls, the caravanning season might stretch from the very beginning of spring until late into the autumn. For most people, however, winter represents a time when a touring caravan is effectively put into storage whilst it is not being used.
Time was when probably the majority of owners then simply kept the caravan on the driveway at home.
Since then, however, many people have realised that this is probably not the wisest choice when it comes to keeping the caravan safe and secure during the winter months.
Instead, there are purpose designed storage sites offering varying levels of security and dotted all over the country. Since 1999, such sites have been eligible for membership of the Caravan Storage Site Owners Association (CaSSOA).
There are now more than 500 such sites around the country – so there is almost certain to be one near to where you live – and each one has been independently inspected and assessed with respect to the levels of security maintained, ease of access to the site and amenities offered.
On the strength of these assessments, the sites are ranked according to one of three levels of registration.
Such is the enhanced safety and security in storing your caravan at a CaSSOA site that a number of insurers offer incentives for using such a registered facility. Here at Cover4Caravans, for instance, we grant a 15% discount on caravan insurance premiums if you choose to store your ‘van at a CaSSOA site. You can read our article on why we support CaSSOA here.
Once you have identified a CaSSOA site suitable for your caravan, therefore, you may rest assured that it is in secure storage and all that need worry you further is the preparation and maintenance typically recommended before over wintering your caravan.
A helpful schedule of the cleaning, repairs and maintenance that might prepare your caravan for the rigours of winter is published by the Caravan Club.
Considerations when choosing a storage site
If you have decided to choose a site offering secure storage for your caravan – and are enjoying the discounted insurance premiums as a result – what are some of the things to look out for when deciding on the site to use?
The following are offered by way of suggestion:
- first and foremost, of course, you may need to make sure that the site is indeed CaSSOA registered, and if so, which of the three levels of security does it meet;
- what exactly are the security features and installations – what perimeter fencing exists and how are intruders discouraged or prevented from gaining access;
- is there 24/7 closed circuit television (CCTV) – and, just as importantly, is it constantly monitored;
- is security lighting on the site between the hours of dusk and dawn;
- is access to the site controlled all 24 hours of the day, with just a single entrance and exit;
- are there 24-hour patrols of the site and what intruder detection systems and alarms are in place;
- it may be worth reading the written storage contract, with all its terms and conditions, before you sign up;
- what is the storage offered – on grass, hard standing or if you are especially lucky you might find one of the rare sites with storage under cover;
- how easy is your access to the site with your caravan – manoeuvring in confined spaces may prove very difficult;
- what additional facilities are available – valeting, washing or even full caravan servicing, for example;
The storage site you choose might not tick every one of these boxes although the more of them that can be met, the safer and more secure your caravan is likely to be whilst in storage.
In a brief guide such as this it is clearly not possible to cover every aspect of security and safe storage for your caravan. Nevertheless, the points raised may serve to keep such questions uppermost in your mind when looking after it when it is in using during the summer season or in storage during the winter.
The guide has attempted to explain, for example, just why security is so important and the emphasis which insurers in particular are likely to place on the extent to which you take responsibility for taking all reasonable precautions for minimising loss or damage.
A number of practical suggestions are given for improving and maintaining the security of your caravan – especially those likely to impress your insurer.
Your insurer is also almost certain to attach importance to the way you are planning to store your caravan – indeed, you might earn valuable discounts on the premiums you pay by being able to assure your insurer of the level of security maintained by your chosen storage site. Some sites may offer greater security than others and a number of suggestions are made about the considerations you might want to keep in mind when choosing a storage site.
Finally, why not watch our two short videos for further information.