Whether you own a touring caravan or a static caravan used as your holiday home, you are probably aware of the importance of caravan insurance – to protect the ‘van itself, its contents, and the various liabilities with which you may be faced as its owner.
Here, then, are some of our top tips on saving money on your caravan insurance.
Safeguarding your pride and joy
Your caravan might be the pride and joy of you and your family – a prized possession which gives you many exciting holidays throughout the year and one which deserves the adequate and effective protection of suitable insurance.
Away from the hustle, bustle and all round excitement of the long days of summer caravanning, this time of year might be just the time to review how much you are paying for your caravan insurance – and whether there are ways you might be cutting that cost.
At Cover4Caravans, we understand how many of you are looking for ways to manage down your costs.
That is perfectly understandable, and it applies, of course, to caravan insurance as much as anything.
We are and always have been, firmly committed to providing our customers with suitable and what we consider is highly cost-attractive insurance deals, but some components of your cost base might actually be under your control. That’s why we are offering here some of our top tips on things you can do that may help you to keep your cost of caravan’s insurance down.
Saving money on the cover you need
You might quite properly give your touring or static caravans insurance a high priority, but that does not mean overlooking the opportunities for saving money on its cost.
Whenever you are buying any kind of insurance or getting a quote, it is not just a question of going for the cheapest, but the cover you actually need – the cover that provides the protection for your individual needs and circumstances.
This is just as true when looking for caravan insurance whether your van is continually used for holidays or in storage – bearing in mind that your needs and circumstances may change from one year to the next.
The aim, therefore, is likely to be finding cover that represents good value for money and includes features and benefits you need, rather than just an apparently bargain basement deal or an offer that looks too good to be true – which is just might be.
You are likely to want to do some shopping around, but this may prove a daunting task these days, with so many insurance providers offering such a wide range of products and different policy terms, conditions and benefits.
Advice might be given by friends, relatives or fellow caravanners, but what you are really likely to appreciate is expert, professional advice about securing good value for money insurance cover.
Using a specialist insurance broker
It might prove quite an involved and complicated question deciding the insurance cover you need for your particular make, model and age of towing or static caravan and the use to which it is put.
To complicate things still further, there is a wide array of insurers all apparently competing for your business and offering a broad range of products to do so.
An experienced broker – such as ourselves here at Cover4Caravans – may be in the best position to make the closest match between your particular, individual needs and the products available in this niche of the insurance market. With an expertise and experience gained over a number of years, we not only recognise your particular, individual requirements, but also have the industry wide connections to suggest those insurance policies matching your requirements – at a competitive market price.
We may help to identify caravan insurance products which you might not otherwise find for yourself – and, into the bargain, help you to save money on the price of the insurance premiums. We can answer many of your questions – and arrange the cover you need – entirely online, but if you prefer an even more personal touch, simply ‘phone us on 01702 606301 – no waiting in a queue to talk to an anonymously distant call centre agent.
Additional money saving tips
Even with our help in identifying suitable caravan insurance policies, there are still further ways you may be able to save money:
- your membership of a caravan club, for example, helps to show that you are a responsible caravan owner, sharing the ideals of your fellow caravanners;
- these are traits recognised and valued by some insurance providers, including ourselves, who are able to offer discounts to customers who are also members of a recognised caravanning club – such as the Caravan Club or the Camping and Caravanning Club;
Security and safe storage for your caravans
- insurers are taking on the risk of loss, theft or damage to your towing caravan and its contents;
- the more you are able to mitigate those risks, the fewer are there for the insurer to cover, and so a reduced rate of premiums may be charged;
- fitting safer and more secure locks on doors and windows might be a good place to start, but whilst you are about it, why not also look at immobilisation devices such as hitchlocks and wheel clamps (which may be required by your insurer in any case), and motion-detecting intruder alarms to reduce any chances of theft;
- some security measures may be for your own personal safety, too – fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are just two such devices which spring immediately to mind;
- the winter time, or other periods when it is not in regular use, may leave your touring caravan especially vulnerable to risks of loss or damage, particularly from theft and vandalism;
- these risks are likely to be apparent if the caravan is left for long periods of time in the driveway of your home and may become even more acute if your caravan is parked some way away, in the corner of a farmer’s field, for instance;
- given these vulnerabilities, some insurance providers – including us here at Cover4Caravans – offer a discount on the price of premiums if you opt to store your caravan at a site registered by the Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (CaSSOA);
- CaSSOA storage sites all meet established standards of security for the safe storage of touring caravans out of season and the sites are graded according to the particular level of security maintained;
- a further security measure is ensuring the registration of your tourer with the Central Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS) – providing you with the confidence and peace of mind of holding something rather like the logbook which the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) issues for your car;
- an alternative register – and one recommended by the Caravan Club – for helping to trace your caravan if it is stolen or for checking the status of one you are planning to buy is TheftCheck;
Review the cover levels for both your caravan and its contents
- it is not unusual to see cases where owners have either over or underinsured their caravan;
- it is worth making sure that your maximum cover levels are not unrealistically high (or too low) even if you need to ask for assistance in reaching an accurate estimate – please feel free to ‘phone us;
- however, we would advise against over-reacting here and simply reducing reasonable cover levels simply to try and save relatively modest sums on your caravan insurance – you might regret it if something went wrong and you needed to make an insurance claim;
Do something about high-risk components associated with your caravan and its cover
- at its heart, insurance for caravans and the price you pay for it is closely related to the policy provider’s perceptions of the risks they are taking;
- if you are currently doing something with your caravan that an insurance provider considers to be a high risk, then typically the premium will increase – if all other things are equal. It therefore follows that anything you do to remove those risky behaviours may result in a reduction in your premium;
- an example of this might be if you unhitch and a park your caravan on the public road outside your property;
- some insurance policies might actually prohibit that – making your cover invalid – and those that do cover it may increase their premiums accordingly. By making sure that your touring caravan is never unhitched, unless it is on either an approved site or your own property, you may be able to reduce your insurance costs.
By taking on board some of these tips and suggestions you may be able to secure suitable protection for the pride and joy of your family’s holiday life, whilst enjoying the benefits of money saved on the cost of insurance.
A further note on saving money on your static caravan insurance
When looking around for a longed-for second or home for holidays, you might have settled on a static caravan. This is a home that can be moved, of course, but rarely leaves its designated pitch on a purpose designed holiday park or resort – so static caravan is generally a more apt description than the alternative mobile home.
The annual rent you pay to the park owners for keeping your static caravan on its chosen pitch is likely to be a major source of expenditure. But there are other ongoing running costs and chief of these is static caravan insurance for your holiday home.
In addition to the many money saving measures you might take for caravan insurance in general, there are a few steps that might be especially relevant to your static caravan:
- it is not simply a question of arranging sufficient cover for your holiday home and its contents, but there are other risks to think about too – public liability insurance, for instance, to protect you against claims from members of the public who are injured or have their property damaged in some way connected with your static caravan;
- you may find that your site owner offers their own static home insurance cover – in most cases, however, you are not obliged to take their cover and may get more comprehensive protection and at a more cost-effective price, by shopping around, provided you are able to show the park management company that you have a minimum of public liability insurance;
- many owners of this type of holiday home also enjoy the extra income that may be earned by letting it out to paying guests or tenants from time to time – an occurrence your insurer is likely to regard as a “material fact” affecting the risks that need to be covered, so you need to disclose that fact to your insurance provider;
- your static caravan faces a number of risks and perils – during the times that it is occupied by you or your paying guests and during the park’s closed winter season when it is left unoccupied;
- if you want to save money on your caravan insurance premiums, therefore, it is worth demonstrating to any insurer that you are taking every reasonable precaution to ensure the security and safety of your holiday home and have invested in mitigating against any loss or damage;
- this extends to some of the more obvious measures such as the locks used for securing doors and windows and the installation of smoke detectors and fire alarms;
- but it might also extend to the levels of security maintained at your chosen holiday park, during the closed season or when your holiday home is left unoccupied – when 24-hour monitoring and onsite patrols by the site’s management may be taken into account by your insurance provider;
- remember, too, that if you intend to let your holiday home for any period, you also assume the responsibility for tenants’ safety – with respect to gas appliances, the risk of fire, and any danger from carbon monoxide fumes;
- the Camping and Caravanning Club has published advice on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and, however temporary it might be, your role as a landlord also requires you to conduct an annual gas safety inspection carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
In summary, whether you own a static caravan or a touring caravan, securing good value for money insurance as well as saving money on your insurance premiums, therefore, might be a combination of drawing on the expertise and experience of an established broker regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) such as ourselves here at Cover4Caravans as well as using the tips suggested above.
Finally, remember that if you have questions or concerns over your caravan insurance; you need a reminder of your policy features, benefits or excess; or, you would rather get a quote from a person rather than getting an online caravan insurance quote, then please do please ‘phone us on 01702 606301. We’d love to hear from you and would be delighted to help.
Expanding caravans and the 12 best caravan sites near Cardiff revealed
How are your caravan adventures going this summer? Hopefully you’ve been kept busy with lots of outings at the weekends and, of course, an extended summer break in your favourite second home away from home.
Just in case you’ve been too distracted to keep up with all the news, here are just a few snippets about some of the latest developments.
Expanding caravan to be launched in the UK
If you’ve ever thought that touring by caravan is always a compromise between a home small enough to tow yet roomy enough to live in, there’s a new kid on the block which might solve the conundrum – a cleverly “expanding” caravan.
Built in France, the BeauEr appears modest enough when hitched to your car. But when it’s pitched at your chosen destination, a simple push of the switch activates electric motors. These slide an extending module that transforms the previous 4 sq.m. floor area into a spacious 12 sq.m. in just 60 seconds.
UK importers are motorhome manufacturers RP Motorhomes.
Revealed: The 12 best caravan sites near Cardiff
With its lush rural countryside, the wilds of the Brecon Beacons, the call of its valleys, and some breath-taking beaches, South Wales has long been a favourite destination for caravanners.
While there are touring sites aplenty, you might be left wondering which are the best – and Wales Online has come to your rescue by suggesting some of the finest, most easily accessible sites in the country. All are but a short distance from Cardiff, so you can avoid long drives into deepest Wales and still sample so much of the scenery, peace, tranquillity and sense of escape from the hustle and bustle.
Try Carmarthenshire, for example, for the seclusion of the Towy Valley at Quarry Lodge Camping, or Llandyfan Camping and Fishing for day trips into the wilds of the Brecon Beacons.
You’re certain to have heard of the beautiful Gower Peninsula, so if you want to experience it yourself, why not pitch up at the five-star touring site at Three Cliffs Bay Holiday Park.
Get to grips with the essence of Welsh farming by staying at a working sheep farm at Our Welsh Caravan and Camping, near Bridgend, just 18 miles from Cardiff.
Mobile caravans still welcome at North York Moors National Park
At the other end of the country, there is good news, too, in the welcome that continues to be extended to touring caravans in the North York Moors National Park, writes the Darlington and Stockton Times.
The head of strategic planning for the Park scotched rumours that controls were about to be tightened on the number of visiting touring caravans and the provision of camping sites for them. These were as welcome as ever.
The greater concern was posed by an increase in the number of parks for static caravans or the conversion of existing sites for tourers into parks for more permanent second homes within the boundaries of the National Park.
Make sure your caravan is properly attached
What’s your worst nightmare as you’re trundling along with your caravan in tow? Have you ever been wracked by the fear of it becoming unhitched and a runaway menace to other road users? Put paid to any such thoughts of disaster by making sure that your caravan is always safely and securely hitched – and then double-check to make sure yet again.
It’s not difficult to imagine the damage a runaway caravan may cause. A story in the Scotsman newspaper on the 19th of July illustrated the mayhem caused when a caravan became unhitched and crashed straight into an oncoming vehicle. Mercifully no one was injured, but police charged the caravan owner with driving with a dangerous or insecure load.
In yet another incident, a caravan broke its coupling and became stranded in the middle of a railway level crossing – causing both the road and the railway line just outside York to be closed.
Is your static home looking a little tired and in need of a refresh? Then here are some ideas on how to spruce up your static home on a budget.
The static caravan that makes your home away from home is unlikely to be anything as large as the place in which you live. Therefore, you can forget about those major building works to create an extension or loft conversion and narrow your sights to more modest changes – by thinking small, you might be able to make the biggest and most eye-catching changes in creating a second home that looks brand new.
So, let’s take a closer look at some of the ways you might spruce up your static caravan.
See for yourself
Of course you want to put your own individual touches and character to any improvements and modifications to your caravan, but that doesn’t mean you are unable to take a leaf or two from other owners’ books.
Take a look around, therefore, and pay closer attention to what seems to work and what might be best avoided as far as your own project is concerned. If any lessons have already been learnt by your neighbours, there is no point in your repeating any of their costly mistakes.
Going it alone
Some modifications and improvements you might be able to take on yourself, but there may be other elements on which a more professional input might be helpful. In other words, don’t be afraid to ask for that help. It might be a question of knowing your own limits.
There are plenty of companies skilled in the maintenance and repair of static caravans. You can look online at directories to find someone near you.
Even for those jobs you may be taking on yourself, suppliers such as these may be useful sources for ideas, tips and suggestions.
It is the exterior of your caravan of course which is the face presented for the world to see.
Across your holiday park you are likely to see identically built holiday homes of a similar appearance, largely down to the fact that the majority of them have an aluminium exterior.
It is relatively easy to reclad your static home in vinyl, however, to completely transform its general appearance – as well as increasing its insulation and weather-proofing.
Recladding might have served only to highlight the generally poor state of repair and dated look of your doors and windows. Although these might of course be replaced – to highlight the makeover – it is a job that you might want to leave to the professionals.
Remember, tackling the exterior may prove more difficult and needs to be handled with particular care, given the nature of a static caravan and its need to remain completely weather-proofed.
On the inside
It is inside your holiday home that some of the most exciting challenges might be faced and the biggest changes made to reviving the look and feel of the place.
It is in the very nature of a static caravan and the way that it was designed and built that it comes with mainly fitted equipment, furniture and units.
Replacing these need not prove too expensive a project, however, and new kitchen cupboards and work surfaces are likely to create an immediate change in the interior environment.
Because of the relatively smaller interior of a static caravan, the flooring and passageways tend to take heavier than normal traffic, with the result that they more quickly appear tired and worn
New flooring – using lino, carpets or modern laminates – may transform the appearance and give fresh life underfoot. It is a job that is unlikely to be beyond the means of a reasonably competent DIY enthusiast.
Soft furnishings – from curtains, to cushions, furniture and upholstery – provide probably the fertile ground for pimping your holiday home. New textures, fabrics and colours may be used imaginatively and creatively to produce an entirely new look inside the caravan. In many instances, quite dramatic makeovers may be made with very little effort or expenditure, yet create a brand new, eye-catching and homely feel to the whole of the interior.
Here are some tips …
Clean and repair
As a first step, make sure to thoroughly clean and repair the interior of your caravan to sort out just what needs replacing, what can be kept, and what can be spruced up. This provides your starting point and the likely budget you need to make the changes you want to achieve.
Check for evidence of damp and mould and make sure to tackle that before tackling anything else. When you are satisfied they are clear, a lick of paint in fresh new colours might transform the appearance and make your static home feel airy and fresh.
Strapped for space?
There are still options! For example, a significant amount of space in a static caravan is typically wasted, being empty air at or around shoulder and head height etc.
You may be able to create additional storage space and free up floor space by putting in some additional wall cabinets, removing items from floor level and thereby making space for additional seating or decorative items etc.
It might also be a good idea to think about purchasing furniture that doubles up as storage areas – i.e. seats that lift and have hollow spaces underneath. There are some great new storage solutions for ‘vans around that may help you maximise your space.
Whatever the layout of the interior of your static caravan, one of the first impressions is likely to be given by the state of the floor. A static caravan is likely to have far less floor area than your own home, so the area that needs to be covered is unlikely to be huge, so your budget might even extend to completely renewing your floor coverings
Where areas have become scuffed or worn, an inexpensive way of sprucing them up is to lay second-hand carpet tiles in the living areas or self-adhesive vinyl tiles in the kitchen and bathroom.
The really good news here is that things such as lino floor tiles (and similar) are now really very affordable and they’re typically far better quality than those available just a few years ago. It’s perhaps worth spending a little more than the absolute minimum here in order to get more durable flooring if you can afford to do so but even if you do, the costs are not likely to be prohibitive.
If you are interested in producing a look that reflects current trends, some online research is likely to pay dividends – so look through the caravan club websites, Pinterest and Instagram for some illustrated ideas.
Careful research is also likely to pay off if you want to retrofit your static caravan to achieve a more classic look – charity shops and car boot sales offer ideal place to rummage in search of old pictures, their frames and classic, retro fabrics.
Don’t forget that it is sometimes possible to obtain nearly new items at a very low cost by purchasing them at public auctions etc.
You may also be amazed at how things can be improved by simply a light sanding down and a coat of new paint or varnish.
Keep an eye open also for liquidations and stock clearances – they are often good sources for new furnishings at knockdown prices.
New cushions and upholstery
You don’t need to rush to a designer boutique in order to secure some very good quality and highly attractive slip-on upholstery. The same is true for cushions, both in terms of upholstery and their internals.
Changing your colour scheme and replacing those tired furnishings can make an immediate and major positive impact on your surroundings.
A fresh, new look may be created by making your own curtains and scattering around a few handmade cushions to give the interior more comfort and interest. Yes, curtain fabric can be breathtakingly expensive at times but you may wish to check on the internet for off-cuts. Remember that today you may be able to bring fabric in from overseas for a fraction of the cost it may be available for in UK retail outlets – and that includes taking into account the shipping costs!
You can make your own cushions by buying inexpensive foam and fillings from a local trader and sewing together fabric remnants and material to make the coverings.
Tastes and fashions in decorative items change over time. True, most of us probably can’t afford to follow fashion to the extent that we change all our decorative possessions every other season but even so, it might be time for a new look.
Whatever your tastes are, modest decorative items are usually available for relatively small amounts of money from retailers and perhaps even less from boot sales etc. They can make a huge difference to how your room looks. Don’t forget, you may be able to sell the old ones to contribute towards the cost of replacement.
Modern LED systems are not only highly energy-efficient but today are also often set in mountings in stunningly attractive styles.
Replacing those old lights and suspensions and replacing them with more up-to-date versions will make an immediate positive impact on your décor.
In passing, some of those old annoying features of LED lighting, such as waiting for several minutes after switching on for them to “warm up” and deliver light, are now the stuff of history. The modern ones are superb and it’s worth checking them out.
It’s possible for shower rooms and bathrooms to also start to suddenly look very dated.
In reality, completely ripping out your existing shower and replacing it with state-of-the-art systems is likely to be expensive.
Give these areas a thorough clean – clean the grout and remove any mould. Replace the showerhead (you can buy more eco-friendly shower heads for around £20).
Then by simply adding in a few extras such as towel racks, dispensers and stylish WC seats, you can transform the look and feel of this area for relatively small sums.
Pimping your static home on a budget
The realisation that the internals of your static home are looking rather “yesterday” can be painful. However, as this article has hopefully shown, with a little effort, some ingenuity and not a lot of money, you may be able to do something about that – and relatively quickly.
Finally, although the changes you have made might seem relatively small and generally inexpensive when taken one at a time, the overall expenditure and effect may be to significantly increase the value of your static caravan. So, when the pimping is done, don’t forget contact us here at Cover4Caravans to consider a re-valuation of the sum insured amount for your static home if required.
Believe it or not, there are some misguided folk who think that caravanners are a pretty staid lot who love nothing better than pitching their van only to spend the next two weeks sitting in the deck chairs under its awning and doing precious little else.
We have news for them – there are also great caravan adventure holidays, packed with as much fun, excitement and adrenaline as anyone might want.
Let’s take a look at just a few ideas that might have you scuttling to stow those deck chairs firmly away – to increase your heart-rate and give your limbs a workout.
You’ve seen the TV shows – now how about discovering your inner Bear Grylls?
Forest Holidays offer basic and extended survival courses in the company of your own personal Forest Ranger who will teach you about some of the skills you may need to survive in the wild – from building a shelter, lighting a fire without matches, brewing up your pine needle tea and foraging for other forms of sustenance.
The courses are run in some of Britain’s more remote forests and glens – from Ardgartan Argyll to Thorpe Forest, and including Cropton, Deerpark, Blackwood Forest, the Forest of Dean, Keldy, Sherwood Forest, and Strathyre.
There are touring caravan sites close to all of these sites – if you are planning to survive at Ardgartan, for example, try the Camping and Caravanning Club site at Luss, on the western shores of Loch Lomond, if your choice is Thorpe Forest, you’ll find the Caravan Club’s Thetford Forest Club Site set in the Forestry Commission’s deep woodland.
If it’s a taste of life on the ocean wave you crave, why not consider a training course in driving a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB)?
These are high-performance craft, certain to give you a definite adrenaline rush, yet there’ll be room aboard for you, your instructor and the family too.
The Aquasafe Powerboat School offers just such courses and operates out of the yacht haven in Lymington on Hampshire’s south coast. That’s only a stone’s throw from the wooded peace and quiet of the New Forest, so you can spend your days riding the waves in the Solent and retire to your caravan to relax in the evenings.
You’ll find plenty of room at Setthorns Campsite, for example, which has 237 pitches for caravans, motorhomes and tents and is situated in the heart of the New Forest, half-way between Lymington and the Forest town of Lyndhurst.
Ride the surf
Feel like riding the crest of the wave? Have surfboard, will do.
Beginners, intermediates and seasoned surfers alike can all pick a spot practically anywhere along Britain’s seemingly endless coastline.
If it’s the (very slightly) warmer waters you’re after – and why not spoil yourself a little, too – then you might head for the south coast for the excitement and adventure of surfing.
Joss Bay in Kent, for example, is but a short train ride from London but has been a favourite among surfers for more than 40 years. The Joss Bay Surf School caters to all abilities and ages while teaching you to surf or paddleboard – let your next adventure begin.
The award-winning Nethercourt Touring Park near Ramsgate is open all year and might serve as your handy base away from the surf school.
Fistral Beach at Newquay in Cornwall lays claim as the home of British surfing – a boast proudly maintained by the Fistral Beach Surf School.
Pitch your touring caravan at nearby Trevella Park, where a huge range of facilities is offered for the whole family.
Want more ideas? Then read Caravanning for adrenaline junkies – where to go and where to pitch-up in the UK.
Updated 1st August 2019
Introduction: why buy a touring caravan?
There are many reasons for buying a touring caravan – here are just a few of them:
- perhaps the first reason many people give is the simple freedom of being able to travel to holiday in any place you choose at any time staycations are certainly more popular than ever – a study in 2019 showed that more than half of Brits planned to have a staycation);New hyperlink and wording:
- a tourer gives you the chance to explore and discover different parts of the UK or abroad; it gives you the flexibility of enjoying your holidays in a different place each time – unlike a static caravan or second home;
- you are able to pack up and go at a moment’s notice, with a spontaneous decision – even if it is a day or two just locally;
- because many touring caravan sites are in picturesque locations, you might get to enjoy stunning scenery right on your doorstep;
- there is the chance to meet new people from neighbouring caravans or those on the same campsite;
- it may be a sociable way to take a holiday with a group of friends or family, knowing that you are all able to sit around with a glass or two of wine with your meals, without anyone having to drive home afterwards;
- the Camping and Caravanning Club – and several other associations for touring caravan owners – frequently hold rallies and other events in different parts of country, where you may compare notes, swap stories, and make friends with like-minded souls;
- towing your home away from home with you is typically much cheaper than paying for a hotel or bed and breakfast – allowing you to pursue your interests, hobbies or sports around the country;
- the initial cost of a new or second hand touring caravan is generally considered to be an affordable investment;
- there is a wide range of different makes, sizes and models to choose from;
- the return on your investment of course depends on how often you use it, but a touring caravan is more or less permanently ready to hitch up to your car to go;
- rates for storing your touring caravan when it is not in use may be considered to be reasonable and affordable – and may give you the peace of mind of it being kept safe and secure; or you may even be able to keep the caravan parked on your own driveway – provided it is not being used for living in and provided your property has no restrictive covenants preventing such a use of your driveway or garden.
The list of reasons is by no means exhaustive and you may have some others of your own. Whether buying for the first time, or even as a seasoned caravanner buying second hand, however, the actual purchase of the trailer that is likely to suit your and your family’s needs may present a bewildering array of possibilities.
What make and model, for example, is likely to fit the bill? Even when you have homed in on a particular possibility, to what aspects might you pay special attention and consideration? How about the car that you intend to use for towing your tourer – will it be up to the job? And what are some of the most appropriate ways of protecting and looking after your investment?
This Guide will give you some pointers on all of the above, helping you narrow down your choice.
The good news is that there is a huge range of different tourers from which to choose – the less good news, perhaps, is that it may prove quite bewildering choosing the particular make and model that best suits you and your family’s needs, requirements and interests.
It may seem obvious, but this may be the most important rule to keep in mind – you are looking for the tourer that suits your own purposes. However new, imaginative and tastefully designed is the model you are being shown, there is little point in buying it if it fails to meet you and your family’s hopes and expectations.
So, what are likely to be some of the key considerations in making your choice?
The size of tourer you are likely to need is typically determined by the maximum number of people you expect it to sleep – in other words, the number of berths.
This, in turn, is likely to determine the length of the caravan needed to accommodate that number of people. The length might also determine the level of amenities that may be incorporated. In its guide to buying a touring caravan, for example, the Caravan Club points out that in order to make room for its own toilet facilities, the modern caravan needs to be longer than 10ft (3m).
As important as the overall length is the way in which the designers have made optimum use of the space. The layout – and sometimes this is more imaginative and ingenious than others – may make all the difference and may even mean that you may be able to shave off a few feet from the overall length.
The weight of your tourer is likely to be determined by its length and the manufacturer’s choice of construction materials.
Although the weight is going to determine the size and power of the vehicle needed to tow your caravan, bear in mind that this weight might be multiplied several times over if you have packed a lot of kit into it. This is termed the payload allowance and in caravans manufactured since 1999, your caravan’s documentation needs to state the European Standard maximum permissible laden mass (MTPLM).
You may have noticed that some tourers have twin axles rather than the standard single axle. These are likely to be reserved for only the largest caravans which need to support an especially heavy laden weight. In almost every other instance, however, a single axle is perfectly acceptable and makes handling considerably easier.
Principal considerations as far as internal amenities are concerned are likely to focus mainly on the kitchen, shower and loo. The extent to which they are equipped is, of course, largely a matter of taste – and the depth of your pocket – but remember, too, that they all add weight to the trailer you are going to be towing.
The above considerations may already have pointed you in the direction of certain makes and models of tourer. You may already have formed a preference for one manufacturer over another simply through word of mouth or examples you may have seen elsewhere.
When choosing a make, it might be worth reminding yourself once again that the best one is going to be the one that is most appropriate to the individual needs and expectations of you and your family.
Given the relatively long list of considerations that may go into choosing your touring caravan, it may be a good idea to try to test drive a few models and persuade the vendors to let you take a weekend break or two in any of those you are thinking of buying.
Things to check when looking at a caravan
Things you might want to check when looking at any caravan you are thinking of buying are likely to depend on whether it is new or second hand – if it is new, the list may be somewhat shorter or the inspection rather less rigorous than if you are buying second hand.
(Read our short guide to buying a second hand tourer for further information).
Caravan Talk has published a helpful checklist for those about to buy a caravan and the points raised may be useful whether you are buying new or second hand:
- ask to look at it in static mode, set up on site just as you might find it pitched during your holiday;
- check the documentation that comes with it – including proof of ownership or the vendor’s authority to sell;
- check the age of the caravan against that declared in any documentation provided by the Central Registration and Identification Scheme (CRiS), the national register for caravan owners, together with any plates or other coding that might indicate the year of manufacture;
- the more documentation you can be shown about the caravan’s history the better. The original handbook and service log, for example, may give a fair clue to it having been looked after by any previous owners;
- when making your external inspection, you are likely to be looking for scratches, bents and other broken surfaces;
- it is also worth taking a close look at all the sealants, taking into account that oil-based sealants may be expected to last 5 years, acrylic 10 years and silicone-based sealants 20 years;
- outside fittings, such as windows, handles, wheels, lights, towing hitch and electrical connections, also need to be inspected carefully;
Chassis and towing gear
- these may prove expensive features to repair, so it repays to check the chassis especially carefully for any signs of corrosion or buckling – bearing in mind that over-enthusiastic use of under-seal might be hiding problems;
- make sure that the hitch moves freely and that the jockey wheel moves freely up and down;
- test the handbrake to make sure that it works effectively;
- on the inside, the principal enemy is likely to be damp in the walls and floor;
- this is the first stage of a rot that may eventually lead to the structure simply falling apart;
- a tell-tale sign is a pervading smell that may mask a host of potential health hazards;
Doors and windows
- just as you did on the outside, check doors and windows are watertight, their hinges are secure and that they open, close and lock properly;
- check any roof vents from the inside and pay attention to any problems causing condensation to form on the inner surfaces of double-glazed windows;
Gas and electrics
- appliances and supply lines need to be thoroughly checked in order to prevent potentially fatal fires or gassing of occupants in future; and
- finally, check all of the fitted equipment, including any fires, water heaters, fridges, cookers and microwaves.
Matching your caravan to your car
Now that you might have your heart firmly set on a particular caravan, you need to match the caravan to your car (or the one you intend to buy) to ensure it is up to the job of towing it. You also need to take into account the rather complicated rules about the weight of the trailer you may tow on your current driving licence.
Your driving licence
The rules are set out in the official government website, which sets out the two possibilities:
- if your licence to drive a car (category B) was first issued after the 1st of January 1997, you are allowed to tow a small trailer weighing no more than 750kg, unless the weight of your caravan and the car you are using to tow it is less than 3,500kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM);
- if your licence to drive a car was first issued before the 1st of January 1997 you are allowed to drive a vehicle towing a trailer where the combined weight of the two is up to 8.25 tonnes MAM.
If you want to drive towing combinations in excess of these limits, you may need to pass the separate practical test to gain the “+E” suffix denoting your ability to tow heavier loads.
The caravan and car combination
The same government website also notes the maximum weight of a trailer that may be towed by a car.
This is expressed by the manufacturer as the maximum weight of trailer that the car may tow or is recorded as the vehicle’s gross train weight. Usually, this is stamped into the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate on the car. The gross train weight is the combined weight of the fully loaded trailer and the fully loaded car.
The maximum width of any trailer, such as a caravan, towed by a vehicle weighing up to 5.5 tonnes is 2.55 metres (approximately 8ft 3in), and the maximum length 7 metres (approximately 23ft).
The above limits are the maximum permitted combinations. In practice, of course, most people generally prefer to stay well within the upper limits and do so by following somewhat easier to follow rules of thumb.
Those simpler rules are based on just three basic principles:
- by keeping the weight of the caravan being towed, in relation to the size of the car, the safer the combination is likely to be;
- however much you put in the trailer caravan, its weight must not be greater than the kerbside (unladen) weight of the towing vehicle; and
- the closer you get to the trailer and the vehicle weight being the same, the more careful you need to be when driving the combination.
So what does that mean? At its simplest it means that the lighter the caravan compared to the weight of your car the better. It means that you are more likely to have enough power to overtake other vehicles, climb hills and continue to cruise at optimum speed on motorways.
The RAC has a useful guide to working out towing capacity.
Having settled on the appropriate balance between caravan and towing vehicle, you might also want to ensure that you have fitted to your car the appropriate mirrors to enable you to negotiate all of the hazards you are likely to encounter.
You can read our helpful guide on towing mirrors for more information.
Protecting your caravan
Having found the caravan to satisfy your dreams, matched the car to tow it, spent a fair amount of time and effort to buy it – not to mention the cost of your investment – you probably want to make sure that you are able to protect it the best that you are able.
On this score, one of the most effective means of protection is likely to be insurance.
It might be tempting to think, for example, that the motor insurance you have already arranged for your car is going to cover the risk of loss or damage to any caravan the car is towing.
In reality, your motor insurance is likely to extend only to third party damage caused by your caravan and not to the caravan itself. For the latter, you are likely to need purpose-designed touring caravan insurance. It tends to be a specialist form of insurance about which you might want to consult specialist providers – such as ourselves at Cover4Caravans.
Touring caravans are a special form of insurance risk not only because of the potential for damage to the trailer itself, but also because of the risk of theft of such a mobile piece of property and because of the risk of theft of its contents. Both risks may be covered by the appropriate form of insurance.
Although insurance may be in place, there are still measures you may take to mitigate the risks of loss or damage.
Many insurers, for example, may insist that whenever the caravan is left unattended that a hitchlock is used (if it is still hitched to the towing vehicle) or wheel clamps fitted (if it is not).
Other sensible precautions include paying careful attention to such obvious weak points as windows and doors, by ensuring that they are properly secured when you are away from your caravan for even a short period of time.
For further information, read our Guide to Caravan Storage and Security.
An increasingly widely used security measure is the installation within your caravan of a tracking device. It is purposely unobtrusive and typically hidden within the structure of your caravan, but constantly reports its whereabouts to a central control room – an invaluable service if ever the caravan might be stolen.
When storing your caravan, note that we will provide up to 15% off the cost of your cover if your tourer is stored at a CaSSOA-approved site.
While this is only a brief guide to the considerations you need to make when buying a tourer, we hope it has helped given you some food for thought. Don’t forget to check the rest of our website for further hints and tips.