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Thinking of Buying a Caravan or Motorhome? – The Hidden Cost will surprise you!

So, you’ve decided to spend the hundred grand on your dream rig, now comes the expensive part.

Protecting your investment, with an RV Insurance policy.

Like all the insurance we cover ourselves and our property with, not all policies are the same. Ensuring that the type of policy you take out is comprehensive enough to protect you against a whole range of potential incidents is far more important than whether you save $100 per year on the premium.

It is not only damage to your caravan or motorhome, should you be involved in an accident, that you need to consider. What about rocks being thrown up by trucks, falling tree limbs at campsites, weather related damage, water ingress (more common than you would believe even in brand new RV’s) are to name but a few you should be aware of. 

Let’s not forget, once you’ve bought your new RV both of you are going to have a ‘must have’ list of perceived justifiable essentials that will be coming with you on your holiday, adventure or big lap. 

Believe me, Hubby is going to do his upmost to convince you that the large amounts new fishing gear he just came home with will help keep the bills down because he is going to be catching dinner every night. Or is he a golfer and sleeping with his ‘heavy’ precious clubs is not out of the ordinary?

Wifey is not going to be any different. The Master Chef range of pots & pans and cooking implements is never going to be not on the shopping list – after all how on earth could she do justice to the beautiful specimen of a fish you just brought home? Then there’s the all-important cushions!

Jointly, you’ve read all the RV magazine articles and you have concluded that a generator is a must, even though you have enough solar energy on the roof to light an entire suburb. (Before rushing out and buying one, read Aussie Life On Wheels, it could save you thousands of dollars).

Bikes, scooters, wheelchairs, generators, satellite dish, spare wheels, solar panels, annex poles, fuel and water containers, even folding boat trailers and kayaks are all items commonly seen externally on RV’s – are they included in an RV insurance policy for theft or damage?

Unfortunately, theft is a fact of life these days and RV’s are an easy target in some areas, which means you’ll need to be aware of what Contents Cover – actually covers! And, do not overlook all the added extras installed during manufacture or after market, as these may not be classified as part of a stock standard RV so additional cover may be required. 

Things to look for in a policy:

  • Replacement value in first two years from registration?
  • Agreed value (most are market price only) be careful on this one.
  • Emergency repairs?
  • Towing costs to nearest repairer due to mechanical breakdown of tow vehicle or motorhome?
  • What distance will the towing cover? (within city limits is not a problem but out on a lonely highway?)
  • Costs to return caravan to your home, in the event of a breakdown or accident?
  • Temporary accommodation whilst being repaired following an accident or breakdown?
  • Hail, flood, wind damage? (wind damaged awnings are the number 1 claimed item)
  • Fire, explosion? (You have gas on board and batteries, all can potentially ignite or explode)
  • What contents cover is included. Can it be increased?
  • Malicious damage (vandalism) Is this important?
  • Electrical motor burnout (water pumps, fans, fridge motors)
  • Windscreen replacement (Motorhomes) 
  • Choice of excess payable – the higher the excess the lower the premium.
  • Legal & personal liability 
  • Is a discount offered if you have certain safety devices fitted e.g. electronic stability control, anti-theft measures?
  • Does it have Australia Wide cover for everything listed?
  • Will your RV be insured whilst in the driveway or garage at your home? Or is this part of home contents insurance? 
  • No claims bonus?

As you can see there is a lot to consider. 

Take nothing for granted when it comes to ensuring your RV, and its contents, are automatically covered by a standard insurance policy.

Some items are cheaper to replace yourself than pay out the excess and potentially lose your no claims bonus, so may not be worth insuring in the first place.

Apart from researching policies I also recommend you do some due diligence into finding out which insurance companies specialise in caravan insurance. But, MOST importantly, what they are like to deal with in the event of a claim. Ask around, look at online feedback, Facebook etc.

If Travel Insurance is anything to go by, then I can tell you from experience as a travel agent, that there is a chasm of difference between companies when it comes to the all-important payout time. 

Some go out of their way to make claims difficult and time consuming (hoping you give up) while others are excellent at processing claims quickly and efficiently – these are the ones you want even if their premiums are slightly more expensive. 

A policy is only as good as the payout (not the premium!)

So where to start?

Get a quote from the most publicized companies – CIL Insurance and your state RAC equivalent.

Just about all motor vehicle insurance companies are now getting onto the Caravan/RV bandwagon and they tempt you by offering a 10% discount if you combine it with car or house insurance. 

Buyer Beware. 

From what I’ve read some are very basic policies, which is OK if you just use your rig to take short two-week local holidays, but if going further afield or for longer then you really need fully comprehensive nationwide cover.

No Caravan/RV salesperson worth his salt is going to let you get your new purchase off his lot without trying to sell you their recommended RV insurance! After all he is on commission and that includes insurance.

Be prepared before collection day, have a policy in place or get one from the seller there and then – your new home on wheels is going to need protection before the wheels hit any bitumen.

An insurance broker is a good alternative, they will do all the research for you, but make sure you know exactly what you want covered and for how much before approaching them. 

They may have never owned an RV nor be familiar with the needs of owners. This does not stop them finding the perfect policy on your behalf if they know what to look for. Brokers are also a good point of contact come claims time – let them do any ‘stick up the bum’ chase ups!

Don’t forget to refer to the list I supplied above when looking at potential policies to ensure you are getting protection for the things that matter to you most.

Now you know the facts about insuring your pride and joy – will you still need that extra fishing reel or copper coated frypan I wonder?

This article is an extract from Chad’s RV Newsletter ‘Aussie Life On Wheels’ 

  • Sign up for the September issue where Chad discusses, ‘Ways to enlarge RV kitchens Pre-& Post purchase, plus space saving and equipment ideas in his RV Master Chef Series. Tips on Motorhome rental overseas.  Phones, Modems, Antennas & Wi-Fi – Information that every RV’er really needs to hear…  Go to:

An entertaining read and a useful tool for all Caravan & Motorhome owners and would be owners.

Chad and his partner are veteran caravaners. (10 years into a 2-year trip around Australia!). Chad has spent years researching vans and equipment, knows most of the ins and outs of living on the road and how they earn a living from their van.

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