You made a big step and purchased a caravan, so what’s next? Making your caravan feel like a home away from home. This includes decking it out with everything you need to have an awesome trip – and that might include some pretty valuable items.
So, you can imagine that after spending so long creating your tiny home, having your home on wheels damaged or stolen is beyond heartbreaking.
There are over half a million caravans on the roads in Australia. As one of them, you must understand the fine print of caravan ownership.
Before hitting the road, you must secure your caravan, belongings, and yourself. This includes safe driving as well as taking precautions and insuring your caravan. Since caravan insurance is not mandatory in Australia, people tend to bypass it, resulting in significant risk.
We prepared a short guide on everything you need to know and where to look for the best deals.
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Types Of Caravan Insurance
Depending on how you’ll be using your caravan and what you want to be covered, you can mainly pick between three categories. Read on to determine which one suits you best.
Touring Caravan Insurance
The touring or tourer caravan insurance covers caravans towed by a vehicle. If you’re pulling your caravan, it’s good to know that this type of insurance generally covers contents, new for old replacement, third party, and public liability.
It is important to note that this insurance covers a non-powered towed vehicle.
Motorhomes are considered as different to caravans in the eyes of insurers. Since motorhomes have engines, they are not covered by caravan insurance, and you need to get motorhome insurance.
Camper Trailer Insurance
Camper trailers and folding caravans tend to be less secure and prone to weather damage. This type of insurance covers the same points as caravan insurance, but it doesn’t protect from weather damage and contents due to lack of security.
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Do I Need Caravan Insurance
Legally, you do not need to get insurance for caravans in Australia. That said, it is a wise idea to get it regardless as it is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
What Does Caravan Insurance Cover?
The level of coverage depends on your policy, but here’s what you can choose to protect. You can tailor your policy to your needs – whether your caravan is parked most of the time or you’re a full-time traveller.
Here are some situations when your insurance can have your back and compensate for the damage.
Theft or Attempted Theft of Your Caravan
If someone tries to steal your caravan and manages to go off with it, your insurance will compensate you the value of your caravan. In addition, the insurance covers the damages caused by an attempted but failed theft.
Fire, Storms and Flood Damage
You can’t predict the weather while on the road for an extended time. But, in case of a storm or a flood, your insurance can cover the cost of repairs or replacement. You’re also covered if your caravan gets destroyed in a fire.
Vandalism and Malicious Damage
Sadly, there are instances where your caravan may be purposely damaged. In case your caravan gets damaged due to vandalism, the insurance covers the damage up to the caravan’s total value.
Accidental Damage and Storage
You can tailor your policy to protect yourself in a traffic accident even if it’s your fault. With a comprehensive cover, your insurer can cover the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle.
Legal Liability and Representation
Accidents can lead to injury, damage or death to another person. Your insurance can cover the cost of your legal defence and representation in front of a coroner or a magistrate.
Emergency Repairs and Accommodation
If your caravan suddenly breaks down, your insurance will tow it and send it for repairs. While you wait for it to be repaired, your insurance can pay for your stay elsewhere. With some policies, if you did an emergency repair out of pocket at the nearest service, your insurance can reimburse you.
Broken Electrical Appliances
Caravan insurance can cover electrical equipment that is part of the caravan – not those bought separately. So, for example, if your air conditioning motor breaks down, the insurance covers repair costs.
Every policy has a different level of contents insurance. It can include various categories like food spoilage due to an insured event like a breakdown. You can add your fishing equipment, TV, laptops, cameras and tools to the coverage list. The policy can also cover personal belongings like jewellery and clothes.
What Is Not Included?
It’s as important to be aware of what is not included as well as what is included. As a general rule the following is not included in any policy…
- Wear and tear. If your caravan is in need of repair because it’s old, it is not an insurable issue.
- Certain weather events. If you drive into an area that has reported impending floods or fires etc, you won’t be covered. Similarly, many policies do not cover damages caused by erosion, actions of the sea or extreme temperature.
- Poor maintenance. If you claim for repairs needed that are as a result of you not upkeeping your van, your insurer is likely to reject your claim
- Reckless behaviour and activities. Essentially, if you do something stupid, you won’t be covered. Reckless driving and unnecessary exposure of the van to potentail damage will result in a void claim.
- Uncovered use. If you say you’re storing your van but you’re actually using it, or if you say that you’re only using your van on bitchumin and not off-road (but you’re determined to get to the most far-reaching corners of Australia), you might not be covered.
- Malfunction. If something in your van malfunctions or is faulty and it is a manufacturer’s issue, you won’t be covered.
Other Things To Watch Out For
There’s not one policy that fits all caravaners. To find the one that suits you, you might need to understand what is included as standard, and what is not. Write a list of the things that are important for you.
Some policies don’t reimburse emergency repairs or repairs done by a workshop of your choice. You’ll be obligated to take the caravan to their service agent. If you have a service you trust with your caravan, make sure you won’t pay them out of pocket.
Windshield and window replacement often aren’t included in starter policies – you need to pay extra. If you’re travelling off-road (or anywhere for that matter!), a rock can easily chip your windshield and you might be surprised to find out your insurance doesn’t cover the replacement.
Most policies have a limit on contents – you can only claim a certain amount per item. Your insurance can provide $5,000 in contents cover, but you can only claim $500 per item. If you get one thing with a value of $5,000 stolen, you can’t claim more than $500 for it, and that’s terrible news.
Why Do You Need Caravan Insurance?
Caravan insurance is not mandatory, so you might think about saving that expense. But be aware, it can cost you way more! If you’re uninsured, you have to pay your own damage, the other car’s damage, and not to mention the hefty towing prices in case of a breakdown.
With insurance, you’ll feel safe about unhooking the caravan and exploring around the camp with your car. If you’re doing the Big Lap, you’ll bring some of your potentially valuable or sentimental personal belongings, and you wouldn’t want to lose them.
Over 400 caravans get stolen yearly, and being one of the unlucky owners sure isn’t fun. If this is your first caravan, it’s common to misjudge the width of the caravan and hit gate posts or kerbs, especially when reversing. Caravans are expensive, and even those with hitch locks and wheel clamps get stolen.
It’s a common confusion that car insurance covers your caravan. The only thing your car insurance covers is your car while towing a caravan. In the case of an accident, only the damage to your vehicle gets covered. For a flat yearly fee for caravan insurance, you’ll travel with peace of mind.
Determine The Value Of Your Policy
The average insurance cost is $560 a year. The sum of course varies depending on what you want to include and how big the premium is. But, before going to an insurance company to chose a policy, you need to clarify a couple of questions.
- How you’ll be using your caravan – are you going to park it most of the time and use it for weekend getaways, or are you going on your Big Lap around Australia?
- Where are you going to travel to – is it secured, paid camps or off the grid free camps in the outback?
- What’s the caravan’s value – insurance policies also depend on the age and condition of the caravan.
When purchasing a new caravan, the best option you can go for is new for old. What does it mean? With the new for old policy, in case your caravan gets damaged beyond repair or stolen, your insurance company will secure you a new one with the exact specifications.
If you own an older caravan, you can opt for a market value policy. With this option, if your caravan gets stolen or damaged beyond repair, you’ll get reimbursed the caravan’s current market value. The market value takes into account the age, condition, wear and tear of the caravan. You might need to do good research to find out the market value of your caravan.
However, it’s good to consult your insurance agent about which option suits your needs.
How To Lower Your Premium
Showing your insurance company that you have taken precautious measures to protect your caravan can secure you a lower premium. Wondering what exactly you should do? Here are some tips:
- Invest in locking devices such as wheel clamps, corner steady locks and hitch locks that cover your tow bar so no one can hook your caravan to their vehicle.
- Get a safe for your precious items like jewellery, expensive cameras and other small electronic devices. Hide large objects so they aren’t visible from the outside.
- Install an alarm and immobiliser.
- Pick a good, safe storage site if you’re not travelling full time.
- Choose a higher excess to reduce your overall premium. You might pay more if something does happen but it will reduce what you pay on a monthly or yearly basis.
- Maintain a clean driving record. If you have a good driving record, you show the employer you’re a lower risk.
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Best Caravan Insurance Companies
There are no insurance companies that are better or worse than the next; they are just better or worse for you. Generally, you just need to get the right insurance for you.
Here are the top 10 caravan insurance companies in Australia
Caravan Insurance For Seniors
For many years, the Big Lap has been associated with grey nomads. And although that stereotype is reducing slightly, it hasn’t changed the offers available for seniors in terms of caravan insurance. This is mainly because seniors are less likely to make a claim.
That said, while most employers offer great discounts for over 50s, once you reach 70, it actually becomes more difficult to get insured. These insurers are good options though…
- National seniors insurance
- COTA Insurance