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At the ombudsman service we deal with a wide range of insurance related problems, including a handful every month about caravan insurance. We therefore thought that we’d provide some guidance, to help prevent these complaints from arising in the first place, and to help you sort things out swiftly should something go wrong.
Take out the right cover
When taking out insurance, think about the type of cover you need. There are several different types of caravan – from those that are pitched at a set location through to motorised caravans – and the type of cover you need may vary depending on which one you go for and where you plan to take it. Be sure to answer all of your insurer’s questions as fully as you can. As easy as it can be to fill in the applications online it might be worth ringing your insurer to check you have the right cover in place. Read through the insurance policy when you receive it to make sure it fits with what you discussed.
You may think that once you have taken out insurance, you’ll be covered should anything go wrong. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Most caravan insurance policies are designed to cover loss or damage caused by specific events only – such as fire, theft or extreme weather conditions. The exact terms and conditions and the cover provided varies between policies. So take the time to check what you are and aren’t covered for. Shop around for different types of policies and, if there is a specific event you’re worried about, ask your insurer if it’s covered.
Don’t assume that the insurance will cover everything inside your caravan as well. Some policies also include insurance for additional items such as bicycles and fridges but you often have to add these on as extra ‘specified’ items. If you choose to add an awning or an expensive TV it pays to check whether you need to cover these separately. Some also provide benefits in other situations, for example where roadside assistance and/or vehicle recovery is required but, again, you may need to ask for this separately. Find out what additional protections an insurer can offer, and then only add for the ones you may require.
Minimum security requirements
Many caravan insurance policies stipulate that theft cover will not operate unless the consumer has taken various security measures. The specific measures required will vary between policies, but may include the requirement that the caravan should be fitted with a hitchcock, wheel clamp or certain type of alarm for example. Some policies also stipulate that a caravan should be kept at a storage site that meets certain requirements – for example one that’s properly fenced and securely locked. Have a read of your obligations under the policy and regularly check that you are meeting the requirements. If you’re not, don’t panic; just take the steps necessary to put things right.
Keep accurate records
When we receive a complaint we will usually look at the relevant policy wording, any advice provided and whether or not important terms or unusual exclusions were brought to your attention. So make a note of the date and time of any important conversations you’ve had with the insurer, who you spoke to and what advice, if any, was received. If you send letters, keep copies and a record of when they were sent. It also pays to have records of what you have in your caravan – if you don’t have the receipts anymore take photos as proof or ownership. If the worst happens and your caravan gets damaged take photos of the damage for your own records.
If you bear the above in mind, hopefully, should you have to make a claim, you can work with your insurer to have your claim dealt with as swiftly as possible. But if you’re not happy with the way a claim has been handled we may be able to help.
Call us on 0300 123 9 123 or visit www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk.
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