Our Motorhome Insurance Renewal Story

delaminated tyre
Oh yeah, and this happened a couple of months into our first trip in 2011 - doesn't help!

Oh no! It’s the time of the year that I dread, even more than going to the dentist; it’s motorhome insurance renewal time.

Why do I hate it so? Well, in the past we’ve had some real challenges trying to get a quote, let alone cover, that doesn’t cost the earth. The main reasons for our problems were:

delaminated tyre
Oh yeah, and this happened a couple of months into our first trip in 2011 which didn’t help!
  • We were full timing – i.e. we had rented out our house while we toured during 2011-2013. This seriously reduced the number of companies that would quote
  • We hadn’t transferred our V5C (vehicle log book) and driving licences to another address, they were still registered at the rented out house
  • We had no ‘no claims’ years because Dave (our previous Hymer B544) was in my name and at the same time I had a company car. I was told I couldn’t transfer my years of claim free driving over while running both
  • When the company car went back we hit the road a couple of days later, and were so wrapped up sorting everything else out we forgot about transferring my no claims status until it was too late
  • Neither of us had jobs as we’d both left work

Let’s just say we didn’t tick any of the boxes that are needed on insurance company computer screens and as such our policy ended up being almost £1200, which is quite a lot for a van worth less than £10,000!

So how are things now?

Fast forward a couple of years and we’ve got Zagan, a newer, slightly more expensive, van (a 2001 3.5 tonnes Hymer B544). But we’ve made sure we have got ourselves set up so that we tick many more of those boxes, and quotes are easier to come by.

We no longer full-time. We have a base in the UK and take long-term trips (current one is 10 months) from there. To ensure the house isn’t empty while we are away, which would cause issues with house insurance, we rent out a couple of the bedrooms on a licence agreement. This means that we remain on the electoral role there, are there for our driving licences and still have all our post, council tax bills etc delivered there. When we are at home, we share the house with the tenants and while we are away they look after the place. Of course, this also generates an income for us too.

We’re now both self-employed, so we can take long-term trips whenever we want. Jay is an IT Contactor and I run my own business helping people save money on their household bills – and can still be classed as in employment.

We’ve also been driving a car while we’ve been home and built up a couple of years of no claims. We’ve sold that car so are now able to transfer those years to our motorhome.

Renewing should be simple this time, shouldn’t it? All we want is to be able to tour Europe whenever we want and maybe nip over to Morocco for the winter (so we’ll need a green card for there), it’s not an unreasonable ask, is it? Here’s how our renewal story went:

Checked with current provider

Our provider for 2015/2016 had a limit to the number of months you could be out of the UK during any 12 month period. We bought Zagan in June, but didn’t start our travels until October, so we just squeezed under that limit. We knew it wasn’t going to be possible this year, so I contacted them to see if they would remove this limit. The answer was no; time to begin the search of the market.

Comparison sites

I popped our details into a comparison site, and it came back with loads of great quotes, but sadly with very little detail. After speaking to a couple of different providers from this list, it appears that most companies have a limit to the number of months you can be away in any one year, or the number of days per trip.

The comparison site did bring up one company who were able to offer us unlimited travel in Europe, but they couldn’t quote us because we didn’t own another vehicle (we live on a great bus route and have access to parents cars when home so no need to have our own rusting away while we travel).

Ask other travellers

There are loads of people out there doing this, just look at our fellow travellers page, so who are they are using? A plea went out for help out and three names kept appearing:

  1. Unfortunately, or fortunately, we’re a good 10 years too young to speak to Saga, even though we once appeared in their magazine!
  2. An insurance broker who specialise in motorhome cover was also recommended, but after long talks on the phone they could offer us a policy with unlimited travel in Europe or a policy with a 90 day limit and a green card for Morocco, but not a policy that could do both.
  3. Our knights in shining armour came in the form of Safeguard, part of the Swinton Group. We arranged a call back via their website (it’s cheaper to receive than make calls when you are abroad) and went through the quote process. They were able to offer us:
  • Unlimited travel 365 days in Europe
  • Unlimited mileage
  • Green Cards for Morocco, Serbia and Turkey – for free
  • AA European Breakdown Cover

This means that we’ll be able to cancel our ADAC cover when it comes up for renewal and save ourselves another €100 (£82).

It seems that there aren’t many companies out there who offer everything that a motorhomer wanting to take long-term trips needs, thankfully we have found one. Ju

Disclosure:

After having our quote from Safeguard, and doing a final search of the market to make sure they were the best providers for what we need, I got in touch with their marketing department. As you know, we’ll only promote motorhome-related products and services on here if we use them ourselves.

You might not realise it, but Jay and I spend 2 to 3 hours most days writing blog posts, answering email questions and responding to comments. We do it because we love doing it, and not for the commercial return, but after speaking to other travellers who promote things on their sites, it got us thinking that maybe we could reduce our costs a bit by utilising our blog.

I spoke to Safeguard to see if they wanted to work with us, and after they reviewed our blog (which it seems is up to scratch), they were up for it. They have covered the cost of our policy for the year and in return, over the next few months, you’ll notice an advert for Safeguard appearing in the side bar on our blog. We’re happy to promote them on our site because after a good couple of months of research, we think they offer the best policy for anyone wanting to travel long-term in Europe in their motorhome.

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28 Comments

  1. After lots of research and different issues last year, we found Safeguard the best. Not only do others limit your time out of the country but give you a meagre miles allowance in a year and we wanted to explore without worrying. It can only help to promote good companies and may make the competition take notice!

  2. We’re already with SafeGaurd but thought we’d have to move to Comfort Insurance for long term so this is interesting to read………did you check out Comfort ?

  3. We’re with Safeguard for our normal UK motorhome insurance. They included European travel with AA recovery while there (only 2 weeks, mind). I found them very good to deal with, very helpful and seemed to want to get me the best deal when I enquired about adding extra drivers. Very good company.

  4. Very interesting report which brings a couple of things to mind about breakdown cover.
    I see most say they are not obliged to cover transport of pets. WHAT?

    Also I am considering removing my wife off the motorhome insurance as I know she would not want to drive such a vehicle while abroad, but would be expected to if I became unable.

    I use SafeGaurd, but never claimed, so cannot comment on the claims side for our caravan. Being old we use Saga for the Motorhome and Britannia Rescue for the van.

    Really good blogs thank you, Richard

    We are really enjoying your blogs

  5. Cheers Jason it’s been interesting to read the difference and it’s possible that we will be staying with safeguard now 😀

  6. This could be very useful….once I persuade Paul we really need a motorhome or campervan! Still in sunny Bulgaria. Hope you are both well.😃 Christine & Paul xx

  7. This is just the report ( safeguard insurance ) I’ve been looking for ! Really enjoy reading your blog, and look forward to each one so thanks for this and hope your practice ping your ‘wife carrying skills’ for next year lol !!

  8. Thanks for the information. I read it just after renewing unfortunately but we were happy with our current insurer – CaravanGuard. I will definitely look at Safeguard next year. Caravanguard have been helpful and cheerful in all contacts and they offer 270 days a year in Europe which is adequate for us (not sure about Morocco). You can add fully comprehensive cover in Europe and you can remove European breakdown but you cannot remove UK breakdown – even though we have the motorhome and other vehicles covered on ADAC. ADAC covers the person, not the vehicle.
    Being old enough, I checked with Saga earlier this year in response to an email from them offering bargain rates for motorhomes – they weren’t and I complained loudly as their email was very misleading.
    I have also had to research keeping a UK car in Europe full time – Saga have a real catch 22 for that: they offer unlimited cover in Europe but you have to be a UK resident, meaning, they say, you must live in the UK for at least 180 days a year. In the conversation they could not clarify exactly if you and/or the vehicle had to be in the UK for those six months which made the “unlimited european cover” claim look rather meaningless. Because I could not rely on their offer I gave up trying to pursue it even though my own UK-based car insurance is with them. (I did find cover elsewhere by the way.)
    In fact it is not true that you have to live in the UK for six months a year to be classed as UK resident – as Ju and Jay demonstrate.

    Sorry if this is too long and slightly off-topic but I feel the same way about insurance as you! They often just seem intent on thwarting you.
    Robina x

  9. Very useful, we are old enough and have used Saga in the past, but had Safeguard last year, however Comfort gave us a better quote this year, including Morocco and Serbia. Not sure I fancy Turkey atm…. Will wait for you to go first!!!

  10. Thanks for an interesting and informative report and well done for attracting some sponsorship but how much did they quote you for the cover? It would be good to compare with your other policy.

    • Hi Jon. I said in the post, our previous provider would not have allowed us to travel outside of the UK for as long as we wanted, so we can’t really compare the two based on price. Cheers Ju

      • Hi Ju,

        OK so we can`t make a direct comparison but I feel that if you are going to quote your previous providers premium then to be balanced the new premium is relevant, after all you have given a comprehensive description of the cover you have so we can all make up our minds can`t we?
        I can`t think of any reason why you wouldn`t say what they quoted you before they offered you a free premium can you?

        Keep up the good work,

        Regards,

        Jon.

        • Hi Jon

          I am a tad confused as I haven’t quoted my previous provider’s premium. Are you referring to the £1200 that we used to pay back in 2012 when we were full timing? If so, again you can’t really do a straight comparison – we lived at a different address, drove a different van and didn’t have jobs (as mentioned in the article) all of which affected the policy.

          If you just want to know what our current premium is, there’s no secret it’s £472. The reason I didn’t put it in the article is because it’s irrelevant, unless you are Jay and I and want a policy based on our vehicle, no claims history, storage address etc. We’ve found in the past when we start to talk numbers for insurance it opens a huge can of worms with people coming back saying they get it cheaper, or it costs more for them, which they will because they aren’t us.

          Hope that helps.

          Ju x

  11. Hi Ju,
    Thanks for clearing that up. At least I have an idea what it`s likely to cost my wife and I when we eventually embark on our travels as our circumstances are very similar to your own. Also I find it very interesting when you comment on the local prices that you encounter, both good and bad!
    Looking forward to more insights and escapades.

    Regards,

    Jon.

  12. Hi Really interesting to read your great blog and comments on insurance, we have just sold up, business last year and just sold the house. Our new Laika Kreos 5009 has just arrived and we will be off into Europe for the foreseeable future. We are in our 40’s so SAGA was not an option for us.Having spent weeks ringing every insurance company known to man and beast we can only get full time cover from Comfort, we have a UK mailing address and no other vehicles. Out premium is £1207 which includes RAC Euro cover, contents but not covering laptops etc and new for new on the van. We had to have a Thatcham 1 alarm fitted and a Thatcham 6 tracker but as it was the only way we could get cover we did it. I hope this might be of some help to any others looking for insurance. We are off in September and will have our travels online lemontravel.com, hope to meet lots of you on our travels. Keep having fun everybody Richard

    • Your plan sounds cracking Richard. The full-timer premium is roughly what we paid at one point, when we had no no-claims, sounds about right if horribly expensive! Let us know when your website goes live and I’ll add it to our fellow travellers list if you want? Cheers, Jay

  13. Hi just noticed the safe guard banner has arrived so thought I’d read this again , have you discussed how you would repatriate Charlie if needed if the van was unable to be repaired as I have just discovered dogs aren’t allowed as foot passengers on ferries and the hire cars have to be dropped of at the port and a new one taken from the uk perhaps you could ask them what there procedure would be

    • Hi John. At the moment he is covered by our ADAC cover. Once we cancel that it’s a discussion to have with the AA. Their breakdown cover won’t cover the additional cost of getting pets home. If it comes to the worst, we’ll find a way to get him home and cover the cost ourselves. Depending on where we are in Europe there are longer/overnight ferries with pet friendly cabins, or one of us stays abroad with him while the other borrows a car from friend or family. We don’t let stuff like this worry us until we need to worry about it, otherwise we would never leave home. Julie

      Edit: just checked the AA European breakdown cover policy and they state they will not cover any costs related to the repatriation of any animals. We’ll need to make a call whether we keep paying for ADAC cover (about £80 a year) in order to retain this, or if we’ll just sort out a way ourselves to handle the situation should it occur. Cheers, Jay

  14. We did it according to plan two kids house etc we are now retired problems with bank inland revenue insurance etc. We insure house and motorhome with the camping and caravan club our van is a Ford we get European road side assist with annual service. Internet and a couple of family members on two continents help with other problems. The powers that be must someday realise some of us actually travel

    • Hi Moira

      We know what you mean! Lots of red tape challenges living this kind of life, but nothing that can’t be overcome. Most bureaucratic systems are built to cater for the more ordinary situations in life, and this life is anything but ordinary. Keep pushing on!

      Cheers, Jay

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