In our guide to towing and caravan insurance, we look at some key questions such as ‘Do I need insurance for my caravan?’, ‘Will my car insurance cover my caravan?’ and ‘Do I need a special licence to drive a motorhome?’. Keep reading for all the information you need when it comes to getting your caravan on the road.
Do You Need Caravan Insurance?
You're not legally required to have caravan insurance, but if you're unlucky it can be costly to not have it. Around 4,000 caravans are stolen every year, and there's always the risk of accidental damage.
Most car insurance policies cover your vehicle while towing a caravan, but they almost certainly won't cover damage to your caravan in the event of a collision. Do check, but you'll probably find that caravans are specifically excluded in the policy. That's why it's important to take out additional caravan insurance.
Here are the key reasons why insurance for your caravan is a good idea:
1. You won't be protected from theft or damage
To tow a caravan with a car, car insurance is enough by law on the road. If you damage someone's property or injure them, your insurer should payout.
However, just having car insurance only gives you third party cover. This means that there's no cover for your caravan if it's damaged or stolen. You would have to foot the bill yourself. It is worth considering specialist caravan insurance if you have spent a lot of money on your caravan.
2. Your home contents insurance could cover your possessions inside the caravan
Home contents insurance can give some protection, but only if you have the right type.
A home contents insurance add-on, called 'all risks' or 'personal possessions', covers valuable goods and clothing you take away with you outside the home, such as in a caravan. Therefore, it is worth checking whether you have this.
It is important to note that most home contents insurance policies don’t cover the caravan itself, unless you buy an add-on for your caravan. It's rarely worth buying this over specialist caravan insurance because it is so expensive.
It is always worth calling your insurer to find out about the best ways to approach your insurance needs.
3. If your caravan weighs too much, you won't be covered
Government rules mean you can tow heavy tourers and trailers with a car but just how much you can pull depends on when you passed your driving test. You can take GOV.UK checks to see if you are allowed to tow.
For your insurance to be valid, you must meet these criteria. You can usually find details of what your vehicles weigh in your car handbook and caravan documents.
4. Keep your caravan safe
Much like your car insurance, how and where you store your caravan can make a difference to your premiums and could even give an insurer a reason to choose not to cover you.
As a minimum, insurers will expect a wheel lock and a hitch lock. The hitch lock stops someone else connecting their tow bar to your caravan.
Not having these locks could mean your insurer won't pay out if your caravan is stolen, so purchasing these are worth the investment. When it comes to storing your caravan, you've two options: at home where you can keep an eye on it, or in a dedicated caravan lock-up.
You can often reduce the cost of your insurance by making your caravan more secure. Ground anchors and hitch posts will make life harder for thieves. Caravan wheel clamps are more likely a prerequisite for cover, rather than the key to a discount.
5. Register your caravan in case it's stolen
The Central Registration and Identification Scheme allows you to register your caravan so that if it's stolen there's a better chance that the police will be able to reunite you with your caravan.
Most insurers say you have to be registered to get cover and while some newer caravans will be registered when you buy them, if you're buying second-hand you'll need to make sure it's registered in your name. So be sure to double-check when you buy.
What are the different types of caravan insurance?
There are 3 main types of caravan insurance:
- Touring or tourer caravan insurance - This covers caravans which are towed behind a vehicle.
- Static caravan insurance - This is for caravans in fixed locations, such as holiday parks or seaside resorts.
- Trailer tent and folding caravan insurance - Contents stored in trailer tents and folding caravans are less secure than traditional caravans, and so they can be trickier to insure.
How much does caravan insurance cost?
Similarly to your car, bike or home insurance, there are many factors that can play a part in your premium. This can include the model and make of your caravan, your caravan's security, where the caravan is kept, where you live and your age.
You would need to speak to your insurer to get the best quote suited to you.
Towing weight and width limits
Often, people do not realise that most cars have a maximum weight they can tow. It’s usually listed in the handbook or specification sheet.
The vehicle’s ‘gross train weight’ may be listed on the vehicle identification number (VIN) plate on the car. This is normally under the bonnet or inside the driver’s door.
The gross train weight is the weight of the fully-loaded car plus the fully-loaded trailer and must not be exceeded.
If your VIN plate doesn’t list a train weight, you should not use your vehicle for towing.
- The maximum trailer width for any towing vehicle is 2.55 metres.
- The maximum length for a trailer towed by a vehicle weighing up to 3,500kg is 7 metres and this length does not include the A-frame.
Trailers, caravans and towing equipment
It is important that anyone looking to tow knows that the equipment you use with your trailer or caravan must:
- Meet certain safety standards
- Be used correctly and legally
You can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get three penalty points for using a vehicle in a dangerous condition.
If you get a tow bar for your car, it needs to be ‘type approved’. This means it must meet EU regulations and be designed specifically for your car.
You will know that your tow bar is type approved as it will have a label with:
- An approval number
- Details of the vehicles it’s approved for
- Towing mirrors
When driving normally, it is essential that you have an adequate view of the road behind you and around you. This is applicable to towing, too. Therefore, you must fit suitable towing mirrors if your trailer or caravan is wider than the rear of your car. This is not only for safety reasons, but you should know that you can be fined and get penalty points for towing without proper towing mirrors.
Trailer or caravan brakes
We all know how important functioning, healthy brakes are. This is something that must be considered when towing, as you trailer adds considerable weight to be halted when stopping.
Here are some key points to note when it comes to trailer or caravan brakes:
- Your trailer must have a working brake system if it weighs over 750kg when it’s loaded.
- Some smaller trailers also have brakes, but these are optional.
- Any brakes must be in good working order.
- You must use a breakaway cable or secondary coupling in case the trailer becomes detached from your car.
You must display the same number plate on your trailer as on your towing car. A number plate can be easily fixed to the back of a trailer or caravan.
Towing an American caravan or trailer
American trailers and caravans don’t always meet European safety regulations. Therefore, if you want to use an American caravan or trailer in the UK or the EU, you must first check that it’s legal.
Be Wiser can help take one weight off your mind by helping find the perfect caravan insurance for you and your needs. Get a quote now.