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Enjoy the UK’s Blue Flag Beaches!

In the UK, no matter where you live, you will never be more than 70 miles away from your nearest coastal waters. So, with Summer on its way and, hopefully, fewer lockdown restrictions, why not take advantage of a day trip to one of over 150 Blue Flag beaches across the UK and Ireland?

Blue Flag Award beaches are widely considered the gold standard for beaches. Water quality, safety and services, Environmental Education, and Information and, Environmental Management are the four categories that must meet certain criteria to be considered for an award.

Here is a brief overview of just some of the fabulous beaches you can enjoy!

St Mildred’s Bay, Thanet, Kent

Less than two hours by road from central London, St Mildred’s Bay (pictured above) is on the easternmost tip of the Isle of Thanet in Kent.

From its small and sandy Blue Flag beach, you can enjoy bathing, swimming, windsurfing, or sailing before taking some refreshments at the café or restaurants on the promenade backing the sea.

Once you’ve caught your breath, you might even fancy a shortish walk to the bright lights of Margate.

Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Yorkshire

Britain’s largest county has a beautiful Blue Flag beach at Saltburn-by-the-Sea.

Here you can step back in time to enjoy the original charms of a Victorian seaside resort, its Italianate gardens, and the country’s oldest water-balanced cliff railway between the town and the award-winning beach some 120 feet below.

15 of Yorkshire’s beaches have also won the only slightly less prestigious Seaside Awards.

Magilligan Strand, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Magilligan Strand stretches for seven miles along the northern Irish coast just to the east of Lough Foyle and west of Port Rush and Coleraine.

The backdrop to the long expanse of beach is the largest dune system in the UK and you can explore it along boardwalk trails.

Although you’ll appreciate the feeling of being away from it all as you explore the local nature reserve of which it is part, the Blue Flag beach also has lifeguard services, a café, and a nearby caravan park.

Blackpool Sands, Devon

No, not the famous seaside resort in the northwest of England, renowned for its Blackpool Tower, promenade’s illuminations, and a welter of kiss-me-quick hats. This Blackpool is in the genteel county of Devon – just along the coast from Dartmouth.

It’s a crescent-shaped jewel on the coast of the rural idyll that is the rolling countryside of the South Hams, backed by stands of pine trees, with the coarse golden sand of the beach running down to the sea.

Sheringham, Norfolk

Take a train ride back to the glory days of the 1950s on North Norfolk Railway’s “Poppy Line” and you arrive at the quaint seaside town of Sheringham.

What’s more, the beach at Sheringham is one of six in Norfolk to win a coveted Blue Flag award for the environmental and educational information it offers, the overall environmental management of the beach, the provision of safety and services, and water quality.

North Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Picture postcard views across the wide sweep of Carmarthen Bay will greet you as you arrive at Tenby North Beach – situated between the ancient walled town’s Harbour Beach and North Cliffs.

A long, wide stretch of clean golden sand earns the beach its Blue Flag award, while a short walk into the town brings you within range of its many shops, pubs, restaurants, and cafes.

Widemouth Bay Beach, Bude, Cornwall

Some of the best of British beaches and the county of Cornwall go hand in hand, of course, so it’s no surprise to single out at least one of these for its Blue Flag award.

Widemouth Bay Beach draws the crowds in the summertime as families mix with surfers to take to the cooling clean waters of the sea. There are several surfing schools since the gently sloping beach is a favourite with beginners and lifeguards are on duty throughout the summer and at weekends in some shoulder months.

West Wittering, West Sussex

The southeast of England has 15 Blue Flag beaches – and the privately-owned beach at West Wittering, in West Sussex, near the city of Chichester is one of them.

The sandy beach is extremely popular with visiting families in the summer months, maintained with careful environmental management and water quality that meets international bathing standards.

Dovercourt Bay, Essex

Although the town of Harwich, in Essex, is host to one of the biggest ports in the UK, nearby Dovercourt Bay manages to maintain a clean, sandy beach with five-star water quality and environmental standards that earn it one of the county’s six Blue Flag awards.

Those taking to the sea can enjoy sailing, windsurfing, jet-skiing, and swimming or bathing.

The UK has some stunning beaches. Not only do they look good – as countless picture postcards attest – but they also help to maintain the highest environmental and conservation standards, with seawater quality that achieves international recognition.

Those qualities find ultimate expression in the Blue Flag award – jealously held by more than 150 beaches around the UK and Ireland. Visit one soon to discover what makes them so special.

Does cheap caravan insurance cover really exist?

If you measure it just by the price you pay, cheap caravan insurance cover may well exist – but looking for it may result in protection that is not always completely suitable for your needs.

Paradoxical as it may seem, finding cheap caravan insurance is rarely a question of the lowest priced premiums. Instead, it is more likely to be a matter of finding the best value for money for your own unique insurance needs.

Value for money

Good value for money recognises that not everyone’s needs are the same. Your needs and requirements – including those for your caravan insurance – are unlikely to be the same as those of the neighbour at your campsite or a neighbour or friend.

The first step in finding good value for money requires the identification of your own unique needs and requirements. This may be more difficult than it first appears, given the development and increasing sophistication of caravan insurance these days – you may be able to protect against considerably more perils and more closely defined risks than you imagined.

Just as it might be easy to miss a trick when it comes to identifying all your caravan insurance needs, there then comes the equally difficult task of finding the most appropriate product on a market that is surprisingly wide and varied. Unless you have a close or inside working knowledge of that market, you may well miss the very product you need – at the most competitive price.

So, the price of the premiums does eventually come into the decision, but not before some critical decisions beforehand. You might also wish to consider the following ideas.

Specialist brokers

Talking to a specialist insurance provider – such as ourselves here at Cover4Caravans – might be one way to ascertain whether or not your existing caravan insurance quotes constitute good value for money.

We have the expertise and experience to help you get what we believe is good value for money on your caravan insurance, whether you contact us through our website or directly by telephone. We aim to build the kind of personal relationship with you to address the three main elements of securing the caravan insurance you require:

  • by establishing the make, model, size, age and value of the caravan you wish to ensure and the principal ways in which it is to be used – helping us to define the insurance you need, without missing essential components, but sidestepping unnecessary cover;
  • by bringing to bear our intimate working knowledge of this particular niche of the insurance market to match your individual needs to the most suitable products available; and
  • doing all of this with a keen eye on the price competitiveness of the premiums, we aim to quote you cover that represents good value for money.

Cost-saving tips and suggestions

Keeping firmly in mind that what might be considered cheap caravan insurance for one caravan owner is not necessarily true for another, here are some practical tips and suggestions on reducing the cost of the premiums for your caravan insurance.

Read and understand the policy documents

Concentrate on that fact when choosing your policy, consider the price only once you have established that the policy is suitable for your needs. Once again, it is worth stressing that although cheap caravan insurance may be easy to find, the more important consideration is its cost-effectiveness rather than absolute price.

In a similar vein, try not to dismiss a policy’s terms and conditions as just so much red tape. In fact, they are extremely important and need to be read carefully as they may affect the outcome of any future claims – you may find that a policy which appears to have a low price, may have elements of its terms and conditions that are simply incompatible with the way you use your caravan.

Mileage limits

Some insurance policies for touring caravans may have stated maximum annual mileage limits.

If this is what is keeping the cost of your insurance premiums lower than others, but the limit is too low for your needs, then any cost-saving becomes irrelevant and a false economy.

Parking and storage

Some insurance providers may be so uneasy about caravans parked on public roads when not in use that they may exclude it from the cover provided by their policy.

Others might place a very hefty additional premium on a policy if that is where you usually store your motorhome or tourer when you are not using it.

Even if you park it on your driveway or garden, you might still be able to reduce the cost of your cover if you can get it into secure garaged storage conditions.

How and where you store your caravan over wintertime may also affect the cost of your insurance premiums – and not just because of the winter weather being hard or harsh.

If yours is a touring caravan, for example, it may be at its most vulnerable to theft or vandalism when it is laid up for the winter season. An informal arrangement with a local landowner does not offer a high level of security and your insurer may decline to insure your ‘van if this is the case.

To achieve greater security – and gain the chance of a discount on your insurance premiums – you might instead choose to store your caravan on one of the secure and purpose-designed sites registered with the Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (CaSSOA).

Secure storage – and on some sites a limited degree of protection against the elements – may be found at some 500 registered sites around the country – so there is every possibility of your finding one nearby.

To qualify for registration, each member site needs to be visited and inspected by CaSSOA, which has particular regard to the levels of on-site security – the presence of CCTV cameras, for example, guarded entry and exit gates, and a fully fenced perimeter.

Depending on the inspection’s findings, the site is then graded – according to the levels of security offered – as Gold, Silver or Bronze standard.

Security

The higher the level of security with which you safeguard your caravan, the lower the risk of loss or damage through theft or attempted theft. (Our Caravan Security and Insurance Video explains more).

Improved locks on doors and windows, smoke detectors and maybe even intruder alarms may persuade some insurers to recognise your care and caution by offering discounts on your premiums.

Be mindful about what you keep in your caravan

Whether yours is a static caravan, tourer, or motorhome, remember that you are likely to pay substantially higher premiums for cover against theft, loss or damage of valuable items such as expensive electronic devices, gadgets, or jewellery and the like.

In fact, some policies might exclude some or all of these categories of item.

Making your vehicle a comfortable home-from-home might be understandable but removing what might be overly expensive items from it – particularly when it is unoccupied – might help keep your costs down.

We hope these points have highlighted the importance of finding the most appropriate caravan insurance for you, rather than just the cheapest. If you have any questions, please feel free to call us on 01702 606301 – we’d be delighted to help.

Caravan must-do’s and must-haves!

In caravanning as in life, there are some things you simply must have or do. These days, caravanning life has changed beyond recognition. Where once it probably meant a couple of weeks away just getting away from it all by roughing it a little, today it remains a chance to escape the humdrum of everyday life without roughing it at all.

Essential home comforts – including all the latest communications gadgets and devices – have become a necessary part of that two-week travelling caravan break.

Before getting down to the nitty-gritty of must-haves, though, let’s spare a thought for the must-do’s. If your caravan has been languishing in your driveway at home or stored away during the winter, it first needs a good old-fashioned spring clean. It’s you first must-do – and all the must-haves can follow on later.

Spring cleaning your caravan

Spring cleaning might often be seen as a chore. When it comes to spring cleaning your caravan, however, it is probably the first sign of your getting ready for the coming new season of holidays and outings. The sense of anticipated fun, adventure and relaxation might make spring cleaning a surprisingly welcome and pleasant task!

So that you only have to do it once in preparation for the coming season, and to help you get the task done properly, you might want to take on board some of the following tips and suggestions.

Spring clean your insurance

Your first spring cleaning exercise involves no physical effort on your part at all – but is no less important for all that.

An annual spring clean of your insurance may ensure not only that your cover is up to date, but that it reflects the steady changes in market valuations and provides the appropriate scope and level of protection for you and your family.

As part of that annual health check, you might want to contact us here at Cover4Caravans to ensure you still have the most appropriate insurance and at a cost-effective price.

Cleaning and maintenance

When it comes to the cleaning itself, the job falls naturally into two parts – the inside and the outside of your ‘van:

Inside

  • dust and hoover as you would any other room in your house, of course;
  • but with a caravan, one of your main enemies is likely to be condensation, damp and the potentially very damaging mould that may grow in such conditions;
  • use your nose or a purpose design damp meter to detect the tell-tale signs of damp before it has the chance to get hold;
  • give the interior a thorough airing and ensure that air vents are unblocked and properly facilitating the flow of air;
  • flush through the water system, using a proprietary freshwater cleaning agent if you so wish – but never use bleach for this purpose;
  • another place where you should never use bleach is the toilet in your caravan, where once again you need to select a proprietary cleaner;
  • in a posting dated the 28th of April 2020, caravan manufacturers Bailey suggest a wide range of cleaning products for use in your caravan;
  • while on your internal spring cleaning, check that both gas and electrical appliances are working and the connections in good order;
  • check the gas cylinders, if necessary, weighing them to make sure that there is enough for at least your next outing;

Outside

  • tackling the outside of your caravan is essentially a question of plenty of water, a good sponge, and the appropriate amount of elbow grease to remove the stains, bird lime and sap from trees that may otherwise damage the finish of external surfaces;
  • the general consensus is that high-pressure water hoses should be avoided and an article published in Out and About Live also warns about the use of petroleum-based cleaning agents;
  • cleaning the outside of your caravan, therefore, is likely to be a pretty straight forward affair – potentially more important are some of the essential safety and maintenance checks that need to be done;

Wheels and tyres

  • properly checking the wheels and tyres after a long winter’s layover, for instance, is likely to require you jacking up the caravan, resting it on axle supports and deploying the corner stays;
  • when safely raised from the ground, grip the tyre of each wheel, and attempt to wiggle it from side to side – there should, of course, be no detectable play in the wheel bearings;
  • on the tyres themselves, you need to check for cuts, bulges and other deformities and ensure that the full depth of tread follows a straight path around the whole circumference of the tyre;

Brakes

  • with the caravan raised off the ground, you also need to check that the brakes are working correctly – a helpful step by step guide is published as an online guide by campsite owners at Horton Common;
  • to check that there has been no binding – especially if the brake has been left on during the winter – simply spin the wheel and listen carefully;
  • provided there is only the sound of the brake shoes gently brushing the inside of the wheel, everything is likely to be fine, but if there is a significant dragging noise the brakes need adjusting by removing each wheel;
  • when the adjustments have been made, remember to do the wheel spin test once again before satisfying yourself that the brakes are working safely;

Hitch, jockey, and steadies

  • the final series of external checks involve the hitch mechanism, the jockey wheel, and the corner steadies;
  • as the only point of contact between your caravan and the car towing it, the hitch is clearly an important mechanism;
  • the hitch must be firmly secured, and the head needs to be clean and properly greased, checking too that the breakaway cable is in excellent condition;
  • maintenance of the jockey is essentially a question of the wheel rotating freely and you being able to raise and lower it easily – in other words, suitable attention to greasing points;
  • corner stays might also be checked that they are in smooth working order simply by cleaning them – with brake fluid if necessary – and greasing the operating mechanism.

Must-haves

Switching from that must-do spring clean to what you must-have for your caravan allows you to be a little more indulgent.

Let’s consider just some of how your chosen must-haves might make life easier.

Motor movers

Touring caravans are designed with weight considerations in mind – with careful balance making for easier manoeuvring.

But there are still situations where you might find it challenging to manoeuvre. A motor mover is designed to give you just that little extra help. It might be needed when space is restricted, and the caravan needs to be unhitched from the car or when you need to align the wheels precisely so that a wheel lock may be used to provide that extra level of security.

Motor movers work on the principle of providing power to turn the wheels of the caravan to move it backwards and forwards and turn it in tight spaces. The power typically comes from the caravan’s own battery and the work is done by clamps which fit against the tyre.

Generally, the motor mover is simple and easy to operate through the kind of remote control device you might use with a television set.

Generally speaking, the simpler the design, the cheaper the cost, of course – this might range from a few hundred pounds to more than a thousand. The amount you are prepared to spend may also have a bearing on the ease of use of the device, although creativity in engineering design may have a greater impact still.

Solar chargers

Getting away from it all is one thing but doing without all your favourite gadgets and devices is another thing entirely.

A solar charger provides a ready – and free – source for all those power-hungry devices such as telephones, laptops, games controllers, and batteries.

Cookers and hobs

So, we’ve enjoyed a mini-succession of especially fine summers, but it’s still somewhat optimistic to hope to do all of your cooking over a campsite barbeque.

Thankfully, you can buy a whole range of cooking aids for your caravan ranging from a single burner hob right through to a full-sized oven – allowing you to give full rein to your culinary expertise.

Satellite systems on the go

If the idea of missing out on your favourite TV programmes while you are away is a non-starter, then a portable satellite system may help you ensure that you stay up to date with all those plot lines.

It will also provide a source of entertainment for the kids on those occasional days when you can’t get out and about.

Shower al fresco

Maybe not what springs immediately to mind when you think about high tech gadgets but what about a portable external shower unit so you can help ensure that all that sand or mud stays outside where it belongs?

But remember

If you intend to buy a few of these must-have items, be sure to check that your caravan’s insurance covers them.

Remember that, sadly, all these gadgets may appeal to others who may not be particularly interested in buying them for themselves!

Tips on buying a caravan

It’s essential to get one thing crystal clear from the very start. There is a world of difference between a so-called static caravan and a touring caravan.

With these principal differences between the two types of caravan firmly in mind, here are our tips on buying either a static caravan or a touring caravan.

What is a static caravan?

A static caravan is so-called because it is rarely moved. Once you have leased a pitch on the park or caravan resort of your choice, it typically stays there for the duration.

Typically, pitches are fully serviced with electricity, water, drainage, and bottled gas supplies. There generally are restrictions on the continuous length of time you can live in a static caravan since most sites close for at least part of the year – for that reason, they might also be described as holiday homes.

Static caravans are typically manufactured to relatively high standards of insulation and equipment, which are further qualifications for their use as holiday homes or short breaks. When you are not using your static caravan, you may be able to let it to other short-term visitors for their holidays (subject to the caravan site allowing this and you informing your caravan insurance provider that your cover will need changing).

Buying a static caravan

Just as with any kind of caravan, you may buy your static holiday home brand new or second-hand.

Owners of static caravans tend to be mightily proud of their second home on wheels – as well they might. All the care and attention lavished on the trailer, however, generates an extra, perhaps less intentional quality for the preloved caravan – a monetary value that typically holds its own very well in the second-hand market.

Not only is the price of a second-hand caravan likely to reflect good value for money for something so well looked after, but it may also prove a very versatile second home.

If you are considering buying a static caravan – whether brand new or preloved – here are a few suggestions that might result in your getting just what you want:

Location

  • almost by definition, of course, location is likely to be everything – a holiday home is somewhere you want to visit time and again and if there is any prospect of letting it to other people, a location which others want to visit too;
  • so, check the location and area thoroughly before you view the caravan. If you look at the caravan first and fall in love with it, psychologically you may not be best positioned to spot glaring issues on the site or in the surrounding areas. Remember that the site and its environs may be critical factors in selling your caravan again should you need to in future;

Buying in-situ

  • although you are not limited to purchasing a caravan already pitched on the site of your choice, transportation costs of moving one bought elsewhere and the availability of the pitch you want on any new site might make it all the more important to buy a static caravan already in place;

A friendly second opinion

  • take someone dispassionate with you to view the caravan and area. Before signing any contracts and cheques, take someone with you who has absolutely no vested interest whatsoever to view the vehicle and site. They may well be able to objectively spot something that you haven’t;
  • use someone else’s knowledge. If you are a caravan novice, get someone to inspect your caravan with you who understands the points to look for;

The lease of your pitch

  • the next consideration is likely to be what you pay to keep your static caravan on your chosen pitch at your preferred park;
  • so, talk to other owners on the site. They may be unlikely to be entirely forthright in their views, but you may sense whether there are issues with the area that are not immediately visible;
  • check what security is in place on the site over the winter months. Sites that are entirely unsupervised and mostly empty in terms of occupiers might be prime targets for thieves and vandals. In some cases, that might cause you an issue with your insurance cover;
  • be clear that the site has all appropriate local council registrations and permissions in place. You won’t want to find yourself embroiled in a legal dispute shortly after purchasing;
  • completing a few basic investigations of this nature may take a little while.

Further reading: Guide to buying a static home.

Static caravan insurance

Included among the various cost-factors you need to add up is the all-important consideration of static caravan insurance – essential to ensuring you remain financially protected if anything goes wrong and the caravan itself is lost or damaged, or you face claims of liability as its owner.

The park owners may offer you their own arranged caravan cover. Remember that you are very rarely obliged to accept such an offer and in most cases may shop around for the insurance cover that suits you – provided you can demonstrate to the site owners that you have a minimum level of cover, against public liability claims, for example.

Here at Cover4Caravans, we will be happy to offer further advice on any aspect of your static caravan insurance.

Buying a touring caravan

If you are interested in buying a touring caravan, you might find that guidance and advice on the process – and what to look out for – is helpfully suggested by both the Caravan Club and by the Camping and Caravanning Club, since both have detailed guides on the subject.

As with static caravans, second-hand touring caravans tend to hold their price very well – the Caravan Club, for example, goes so far as to say that a second-hand caravan does so far better than a new one.

The Caravan Club also suggests that the average useful life of a touring caravan is roughly 14 years and this indicator might help you narrow down your search for a suitably preloved model.

Whether you are buying a second hand caravan or want to buy new, there are several aspects to which you might want to pay close attention. So, when looking at caravans for sale think about:

What you want

  • the make and model, of course, is very much a question of personal choice, based on your individual requirements concerning such matters as size, towing weight, and layout;
  • choosing the make and model which offers the space you need – the layout and design of a touring caravan is likely to be at least as important as its overall floor area, length, and number of berths;
  • it is also essential to ensure that the car you aim to use to tow your preloved caravan is also up to the job – a calculation which might initially appear overly technical to the uninitiated, but for which there are online reckoners;
  • it is likely to be a fairly major investment, so it is vital to spend your money wisely by making sure that the caravan you choose meets as many as your needs as possible;

Use

  • your guiding principle when choosing a family caravan is likely to be the use to which you want to put it;
  • with your own needs as well as your children’s in mind you might want to give thought to the accommodation offered – there is likely to be more to it, for example, than simply counting the number of berths the caravan has. The size, length and comfort of a berth may vary quite widely and may need to accommodate young people from toddler size to adolescent;
  • facilities: the older your children, the more likely importance will be placed on the roominess and effectiveness of showering and washing facilities – unless, of course, you plan to be staying on sites where 5-star facilities are assured;
  • size matters: no caravanning holiday is likely to have assured good weather where the whole family can eat, play and relax outside – think of the worst-case scenario when you and your brood are cooped up in the caravan for several continuous days’ of rain.

Layout

  • although size matters, how the space is laid out and used may prove equally important;
  • it may make sense to study the wide range of layout options published by online caravan sales companies to home in on those designs most likely to meet your family’s needs;

Storage

  • when a family goes on holiday, there is invariably more than the usual amount of equipment and kit to be packed – adventure sports gear for older members of the party, perhaps, or diversionary toys and games for younger children;
  •  to free the precious space and keep the inside of your caravan as uncluttered as possible, therefore, you might want to make sure that the layout and design you choose includes plenty of cupboards, lockers, and general storage;

Where it’s been

  • if you are buying second-hand, you have the National Caravan Council (NCC) to thank for its foresight in 1992 in setting up the Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS) which is the practical equivalent of a 17-digit VIN etched into the chassis of the caravan (and typically the windows, too) as a way of recording the history of ownership in much the same way as the logbook does for your own private motor car;
  • there is no need to stop there, of course, since you are probably also going to want to know more about previous owners, their record of maintaining the caravan and whether it is subject to any outstanding finance;

The condition it’s in

  • the condition of any second-hand caravan you are looking over is going to depend on the wear and tear it has suffered as a result of its age and the price you are prepared to pay for it;
  • this, in turn, might rest on your estimation of the overall useful life of the caravan – the Caravan Club, for example, puts the average practical life at some 14 years;

Inspection

  • when you are buying second hand, the physical inspection is likely to prove critical;
  • public enemy number one as far as touring caravans are concerned is likely to be the problem of damp and condensation – the symptoms of which not only leave unsightly, tell-tale signs but might also pose a threat to health;
  • check carefully for signs of damp or condensation, therefore, since even when remedies exist, they may prove costly;
  • your inspection of the outside of the caravan is likely not only to be restricted to spotting dents, scrapes and scratches, but also to the potentially more important check on the condition of seals around doors and windows – silicone-based sealants, for instance, might be expected to last as long as 20 years, while acrylics may last only half that time, and oil-based sealants only five years or so;
  • hitch gear, lighting and electrical connections, wheels and windows are also likely to be a focus of attention during your inspection of the exterior;
  • on the inside, you may get an immediate impression of how well the caravan has been looked after – or otherwise;
  • checks of fitted electrical and gas appliances – especially the latter – are essential safety precautions for which you might want to consider the expert oversight and testing by a qualified engineer;
  • the security equipment installed and used to protect the caravan may offer a further clue to how well previous owners have looked after it. And, the greater the level of security, of course, the more likely you are to qualify for any available discounts on insuring your caravan.

Price

  • the price someone is asking you to pay for a second-hand caravan may not be the same as its true market value – prices for the same make, model and age may vary very widely, so a rigorous price comparison may be the order of the day;
  • the age and value of the caravan are also important factors when it comes to insuring your caravan, and you might want to remind yourself of some of the further considerations by referring to our own quick guide on the subject here at Cover4Caravans.

Where to buy your caravan

If you are buying new, the pre- and after- caravans sales service provided by a reputable dealer ensure that you take delivery of a perfectly functional caravan, in which everything is in sparkling new order.

You have the further peace of mind of warranty back-up and somewhere to go for those niggling after-sales questions and enquiries – together with the opportunity for booking the next habitation service.

If you are thinking of buying a used caravan, then rather more care and caution may be required – but you are likely to discover a wide range of avenues and sources to explore:

  • initially, for example, you might do worse than canvas your friends and fellow caravanners about makes and models that might be up for sale;
  • this might lead to the sales advertisements that might appear anywhere from your local newsagent’s window to the classified listings of your local newspaper;
  • casting your net wider, by going online, you can access many more listings, of course, and a number may specialise in the new or second-hand models in which you are especially interested;
  • there is a site for caravans, for example, that echoes in every way its sister site for motor cars – Autotrader Caravans, with a constantly updated listing of sales;
  • a helpful suggestion from the Camping and Caravanning Club is that you make the most of the several caravan shows that are staged around the country at various time of the year – these provide an opportunity to see for yourself some of the latest layouts and designs in an atmosphere that is almost guaranteed to be competitive when it comes to pricing as salespeople vie for sales;
  • what you have seen and learned at such a show might point you in the direction of a particular dealer whom you might choose to visit later – an established dealer with a reputation to maintain might be a good place to secure a money-saving deal on the right caravan and aftersales service, but you may need to exercise good judgement, and the advice of fellow caravanners, to find the most reputable dealers.

Further reading: Cover4Caravans’ guide to buying a tourer.

Insurance

Finally, whatever the size, shape, or layout of the touring family caravan you choose, you need to address the question of insuring your caravan.

Given the time, effort, and money you are likely to have invested in acquiring the trailer, caravan insurance is probably a priority – and a specialist one at that. There are several specialist caravan insurance providers – such as us here at Cover4Caravans – so you might want to take the opportunity of an early discussion of your needs.

Guide to buying a touring caravan

So, you have decided to buy a touring caravan. That is a great start, but things are about to get a lot more exciting!

The decision to buy is just the first step. You’ll soon want to move on to specifics about the many shapes and sizes of different tourers, the maximum number of people you may be hoping to accommodate, the permutations and combinations of layout, whether your car is going to be powerful enough to tow it, whether you want an awning or canopy to erect alongside it – a hundred and one choices to make.

Plus, the question of insurance touring caravan alone is likely to provide a whole chapter in itself.

So, it might be helpful to break down the likely process into manageable steps. 

Your caravan

As you begin casting around for ideas about the type of caravan that might suit you and your family’s needs, you may do worse for inspiration than simply taking a look at what your friends and neighbours are using.

Since they are likely to be nearby and more or less available, this gives you the opportunity of a close-up inspection, getting a feel for the caravan and, of course, for asking them about their own experiences with this particular make and model.

If they are especially good friends or neighbours, you might be able to go one better and ask them to let you give it a go – a short weekend for you to try it out for yourself.

On the other hand, there might be a shortage of caravan-owning friends and neighbours so, the alternative is to rent a touring caravan for a while.

There are rental companies throughout the UK with caravans of many different sizes and layouts – from 15ft to 18ft in length (so 4.5m to 5.5m), for example, sleeping from 2 to 6 people, and delivery to anywhere in the country (or you may collect it yourself from the company).

The research may also give you a guide to how much you need to spend – not only on the purchase, but also running costs such as general maintenance, storage, and caravan insurance.

Inspired by the experience, you are probably ready to move on to thinking about a touring caravan of your own. 

Size isn’t everything when buying a touring caravan

You want to be comfortable in your caravan, of course, with room to swing a cat. But it is not only its overall size that is likely to be important but its layout too.

Caravan designers seem to have become ever more ingenious when it comes to maximising every last centimetre of space, so it pays to shop around for the layout that fits your particular bill.

Don’t forget that you can also temporarily extend the size of your tourer by using an awning. Please click here for our Guide to awnings.

Towing power

A critical aspect of choosing your touring caravan is the car that you have to tow it.

An initial browse through internet sites might give the impression that this is a very complicated issue – what with Mass in Running Order (MIRO), Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM), and Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM), to name just a few of the acronyms for measures of weight. To the untrained eye, it is likely to appear extremely technical.

Although a guide published by the Camping and Caravan Club explains the meaning of every one of the relevant terms, a useful and widely accepted rule of thumb is offered on the Out and About Live website. This says that the Maximum Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM) of your caravan needs to be no more than 85% of your car’s kerb weight (or up to 100% if you are especially experienced in towing caravans).

On the other hand, you might want someone else to make the calculation for you and turn to What Tow Car’s automatic “outfit matcher” into which you simply enter the make and model of your caravan and the car you want to be capable of towing it.

Shopping

Thanks to your research, viewings, and trial runs, you might now be ready to buy the make and model of your ideal touring caravan – or its approximate equivalent. But just where do you shop for caravans?

  • word of mouth – those very friends and neighbours who first showed off to you their pride and joy of caravanning might also be a useful source of fellow caravanners interested in selling their pre-loved ‘vans;
  • classified ads – the classified ads in your local newspaper might also be a place to look, although this is likely to depend on the part of the country in which you live and, more particularly, the size of the area covered by the paper’s circulation;
  • online listings – as with practically anything else you are interested in buying, the internet offers a fertile source for listings by online magazines and website (the ever-popular Autotrader, for instance, has a specialist site listing caravans for sale); or
  • dealers – if you prefer to buy a brand new caravan or a second-hand tourer, you may, of course, visit a local supplier.

Whichever route you choose, a little time and patience are likely to come up with the caravan for you and your family.

Touring caravans insurance

Now that you’ve spent a great deal of time and effort finding just the caravan that suits you – not to mention the potential hefty financial investment you have made – don’t forget to arrange the protection offered by suitable touring caravans insurance.

Although any insurance needs to be tailored to your individual circumstances and requirements, an overview of the principles of this type of cover is given in our series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the subject.

What does tourer insurance cover?

  • at the heart of any touring caravan cover, of course, is the protection of the ‘van itself against such potentially serious risks as fire, flooding, impacts, storm damage, vandalism and theft;
  • the sum insured needs to reflect the current replacement value of your caravan (which is likely to be different to the price you paid for it or its current market price) – although some insurers may offer a new for old replacement if your caravan is less than a certain age and is stolen or damaged beyond economic repair;

The contents

  • cover may also extend to the contents of your touring caravan and protection against similar risks and perils;

Safety and security

  • most touring caravans insurance policies include provisions for mitigating the risk of loss or damage by insisting that you apply a hitchlock and use wheel clamps if the ‘van is left unattended but still hitched to the towing vehicle and wheel clamps alone if it is unhitched;
  • cover against loss or damage to your caravan and its contents typically extends to periods when you are using it on holiday, while it is temporarily on your driveway at home, and when it is in longer-term storage (when laid up for the winter, for example);
  • it is when your caravan is not in use for a significant length of time that it might be at its most vulnerable – we, therefore, offer a discount on insurance premiums you pay if you take the precaution of using the especially secure storage sites registered by the Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (CaSSOA);

European travel

  • you may have even greater freedom of the open road – not to mention the sense of adventure involved – if you are towing your caravan for a holiday in Europe;
  • in that case, suggests an article in Caravan Talk, you need to take special care that your caravan insurance (as well as your motor insurance) covers travel in Europe;
  • although your motor insurance normally meets the minimum requirements of local laws, this might only offer third party cover for your caravan (if the ‘van causes injury or damage to a third party in a road traffic accident), making separate, specialist insurance for the ‘van a more than prudent option;

Use by friends and family

  • some tourer insurance policies extend cover during the ‘van’s use in the UK by your family or friends;
  • if you propose such generosity, therefore, it is important to check that your caravan insurance permits such use;

Public liability

  • even when your touring caravan is pitched or being stored on your driveway, you may face claims of negligence if a campsite neighbour, passer-by, or member of the public suffers an injury or has their property damaged;
  • with such claims potentially reaching a substantial figure, public liability indemnity insurance typically offers at least £1 million of cover.

In short, therefore, touring caravan insurance may cover a wide range of risks and perils, depending on your proposed use of it. When arranging cover, it is important that the insurance you buy is tailored to your specific needs and requirements.

We hope this quick overview as to what you need to consider when choosing, buying and insuring touring caravans will help you make an informed decision as to the next steps. For further reading, please visit our Guide to buying a tourer.