Caravan & RV Insurance

Whilst the first steps to avoiding theft begin with ensuring you follow a few simple commonsense security routines to deter thieves in the first place, you should also look carefully at the type of insurance you choose. Caravan insurance or trailer insurance is in many ways different from car insurance. In this article we provide you with an outline of what to look for, especially from a travellers perspective.

RV & Motorhome Insurance vs Caravan & Trailer Insurance

For caravans and trailers to be stolen, thieves obviously need towing equipment to remove it from its stationary position. Usually, to protect a caravan from theft, a mechanical device is used to lock the trailer in such a manner that towing would be impossible. In self-propelled RVs such as a campervan or motorhome however, anti-theft devices such as immobilisers should be used.

In matters of insurance these safety measures have a direct bearing on the premium and most companies offer a discount on account of them. Discounts are also available for different alarms and GPS devices which are increasingly being fitted in caravans and RVs.

Choosing the right policy

Due to the existence of a number of companies in the insurance sector, there is healthy competition between them. This is true in the case of home insurance, auto insurance and medical insurance. Caravan Insurance, which falls in the general category of Auto Insurance, though different in many ways, is no exception.

Where to find and compare policies

With the availability of the internet, the relative merits and demerits of the policy of each company and the financial implications are easily available to everyone.

How to get discounted insurance

Many insurance companies offer a number of discounts and special deals which they pass on to the customers. Companies offer discounts for membership of various clubs. The Automobile Club membership gives you a 24 hour break down assistance service. Such facilities are provided by Motor Vehicle Associations like RACQ, NRMA, RACV and RACWA.

Comparing insurance policies

Most insurance companies spell out what their policies cover and what they do not. Generally, the events that they cover are accident, fire, theft or attempted theft, flood, storm, hail, damage by malicious intention, and more. What they do not include in the coverage is a pretty long list!

Some of the important ones are indicated below:
  • The insurance company does not pay more than the "agreed value", or you can elect to have a "market value" policy.
  • They do not pay for repairs done without their consent except for emergency repairs.
  • Theft or attempted theft of the vehicle if it is not securely locked is excluded.
  • In case you leave your trailer or caravan unattended for a period of time (check terms between policies), the insurer may not be liable to pay for theft or damage. Often the only exception is when you leave the caravan in a caravan park which has a resident manager. Loss or damage to your annexe or your caravan while setting up, repairing, dismantling or modifying, is also rarely covered.
  • If your caravan is damaged or lost due to tidal waves, the insurance company may refuse to entertain any claim. Similar is the case of loss or damage to your annexe by a known storm if it does not have a hard roof or walls.
  • If the caravan is misplaced and you are not able to locate it, the company may decline payment except when it is a case of theft.
  • If an examination reveals that you have incurred some expenses for fixing some faulty repairs done before the policy came into force, then these expenses would not be reimbursed.
  • As in the case of vehicles, no compensation is given for wear and tear, corrosion and depreciation of the parts of the caravan or RV as the case may be.
  • Failure and breakage of any mechanical, electrical, electronic part or gas of the vehicle are often excluded. Damage to tyres is also usually excluded.

Due to the large number of exclusions incorporated in the policy by most insurance companies and their own interpretation of such exclusions, it is necessary that you must, on receiving a quote and terms and conditions of a policy, read them thoroughly to know what exactly you would stand to gain in case of theft or damage to your vehicle.

Insurance tips for regular or long-term travellers

General caravan insurance is designed to cover you for theft of or accidental damage to the insured caravan. But definitions of accidental damage can vary from policy to policy, as can definitions of “Australia wide”, and "personal effects & contents".

Find out if “on-the-road” cover restricts you to bitumen roads only. Check the fine print for circumstances where you come into trouble in a more remote area that you’ve accessed via unsealed roads. Check that you are covered in all circumstances whether you're touring on the road, on-site or at home - you may have to choose one such circumstance with some insurers so consider your perceived element of risk for the non-insured scenario.

Your policy may include some or all of the above listed benefits up to “specified limits” so check these limits and how well this covers all your property.

Find out precisely what contents are covered by your policy and any exclusions and fine print as many included contents policies are inadequate for travellers. In most cases you will need to have an additional contents policy designed specifically for use away from a fixed home address. Try to have your generator, solar panel and other high-value items itemised on your insurance policy. If this cannot be done as a specified item on your caravan insurance, then you may need to obtain another policy to cover your nonimated extras.

Finally, check the terms for the level of flexibility regarding your choice of repairer. Whilst they may say they offer a nationwide network of accredited repairers be sure you understand what happens if you require repair in a regional area and you cannot get to one of their “accredited” repairers?

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Created: March 2012
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