Modern caravans and cars are incredibly reliable. Long gone are the days of having to de-coke your engine every year, grease your suspension points every week and pay for a full service every 3,000 miles. Not many of us miss such a punishing regime but when our cars and caravans do let us down it can come as even more of a shock.
Caravan owners have a unique perspective when it comes to buying breakdown cover. OK, most of the time they’ll be driving solo, just like the rest of us; but when they are towing their caravan and they have a problem they really do have a problem!
Imagine that you are going on holiday with your caravan when your car breaks down and it can’t be repaired at the side of the road. You’ll need someone to take you, your car and your caravan to your final destination – and if they can’t then your holiday is ruined! Do you see what I mean about caravan owners having a unique set of problems?
Is Your Caravan Covered?
Checking that your caravan will be covered in the event of a problem seems like such an obvious thing but you might be caught out. Green Flag breakdown cover includes any caravan up to 3.5 tonnes in weight, with inclusive repair and recovery.
There might be fewer things to go wrong with your caravan than your car but as it still has wheels, tyres, wheel bearings, a towing hitch and a complicated electrical system there are plenty of things that could go wrong, ruining your break! Sadly, RAC cover doesn’t include your caravan if it breaks down. They will recover it for you to a garage to be repaired but you will have to pay the costs of doing so.
The AA cover problems with your caravan but say that they can’t give you a replacement car with a tow hitch fitted if they can’t repair your car. This means that they will have to recover your car AND caravan, potentially leaving you stranded.
What Exclusions Are There?
The two most common exclusions are kerb weight and style of towing hitch. Some companies, including the RAC, AA and Green Flag, limit the cover that they give to caravans weighing less than 3.5 tonnes. The AA and RAC also limit the width to 2.3 metres (7ft 6in) and length to 7.6 metres (25ft). This shouldn’t be a problem for most owners but might catch a few out who own the larger American-style caravans.
All insist that your caravan be fitted with a standard 50mm ball-hitch too.
Is There a Caravan-friendly Policy out There?
There is. The Green Flag policy is pretty good for those who own standard caravans that weigh less than 3.5 tonnes and are smaller than 2.3 metres wide and 7.6 metres long.
However, those who own larger caravans there is the option of the MAY DAY policy, operated by Green Flag and administered through the Caravan Club. You need to be a member of the Caravan Club but the policy is very comprehensive and should cover all of your needs.
For example, if your caravan or car breaks down on your way to a pre-booked campsite they’ll recover you there and take your car (if appropriate) to a local garage to be repaired. If the garage can’t repair your car then they’ll recover your car and caravan back to your home address at the end of the holiday. Green Flag will also give you £10 if they don’t reach you within one hour of calling them too, so their response rate should be impressive too.
A very similar scheme is provided by the RAC. Called RAC Arrival it is administered by the Camping and Caravanning Club.
Autonational are one of the smaller breakdown companies but they do give you the ability to add your caravan to their standard car policy for an extra £9 a year.
GEM Motoring Assist also cover your caravan as well as your car in one simple policy, getting you to your destination regardless of whether it’s your car or caravan that’s broken down.
AutoAid is another small company with a difference. They provide caravan cover but you need to pay the recovery costs upfront and then claim them back from them. This keeps the policy cost very low and they have an excellent record with many customers recommending them very highly.
You will normally have to pay extra to have caravan breakdown cover while you are touring in Europe, and it’s even more important to double-check that your caravan will be covered.
Preventing the Need for Breakdown Cover
We would suggest that every caravan owner needs breakdown cover, if for no reason than because the problems of a caravan breaking down are so far-reaching.
However, any breakdown is inconvenient, even if you know that a white knight will come charging to your rescue! Regular servicing will help prevent problems from happening in the first place and is money well spent.
We’d love to hear how you get on with arranging your caravan breakdown cover – or even your experiences of the various companies if you do breakdown!