The price of being honest – full time insurance for a motorhome

You may have read my rantings about full time motorhome insurance in past blog posts, as it’s a bit of a minefield. I finally got ours sorted, so if you’re planning to set off on your own long term adventure in a motorhome I’ve listed below a few things you might want to think about before you reach for the phone to get an insurance quote.

What is full timing?
I’ve often asked this question too. If you ask insurance companies they generally have a varied range of answers. Some class full timing as being in your van for more than six months a year, others say eight months. Some say you are full timing if you are not on the electoral role at a property in the UK, one company told me I either needed to own a property or have a nine month rental agreement in place to be counted as not full timing.

Whatever their definition of full timing is, they see a person touring in their motorhome with their property in the UK rented out a much bigger risk than someone doing exactly the same trip but with their home in the UK sat empty!

So, to rent or not to rent?
This is a biggie. If you own your house (or have a mortgage on it) and leave it sat empty while you travel, your home insurance company might have a few words to say about it, but your motorhome insurance company may see you as still living there, so not necessarily full timing.

If you rent out your house while you travel, you will need to inform your home insurance company, your mortgage provider and move yourself (on paper) to a friend or relative’s address. We found that we could not get quotes from several companies because our motorhome and driving licences were still registered at our house which we had rented out and someone else was living there.

The DVLA must have an up to date address to contact you at, and a postal redirect is not classed by the insurance companies as a suitable solution to changing your V5 and licences. So, if you plan to rent out your property you need to get your paperwork changed over with the DVLA before you start to shop for insurance.

The price of honesty
This is a bit of a touchy subject, but it has cost us a small fortune during our travels. From the outset we told our insurance company that we would be full timing in our motorhome. This means we were put onto a full time policy which cost us between £800 and £1200 per year. We filled out online forms for quotes for a normal policy, and it came back at just under £400 – a third of what we actually paid for that year.

Many of the people who we’ve met while travelling did not say the magic words ‘full time’ to their insurance company. Their policies provide 365 day European travel cover, and their insurance company assumed that they live at the address their motorhome was registered at. If they don’t specifically ask, and you don’t say you won’t be living there, it works out much cheaper to have a normal policy with a full year of cover in Europe.

Of course you do need to be careful, insurance companies aren’t stupid. If you have an accident they might try to weedle out of paying if they suspect you have been full timing. How can they prove it? If you keep a blog with your details on it or if you write articles for magazines (we were rumbled like that, but fortunately we were on the wrong policy through no fault of our own so didn’t have to pay up any more) they might do some digging and discover you weren’t on a full time policy. But, if you plan to tour quietly around and not tell the world about it – well they might struggle to find any evidence.

At the end of the day it’s down to your own personal situation, your view of the world and the level of risk you’re willing to take as to if you tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth or not.

Last tips

  • Try to align your insurance start dates with your departure date, that way you’ll be back in the UK for your MOT when it’s time to renew which makes it easier to ring around.
  • It’s worth picking up a copy of MMM or Practical Motorhome as there are loads of companies listed in the back that offer motorhome insurance – a good place to start when ringing around
  • It might work out cheaper if you join one of the camping and caravan clubs as they have deals with insurance companies which offer a discount (check that the amount of the discount will be less than the membership fee before you join!)

 

UPDATE – September 2015:

After all the hassle we had with insurance first time around we made sure to set ourselves up so we could enjoy long-term trips without being full-timers. We have converted an old outbuilding behind the house we own. We live in this (and most importantly keep our stuff in it so no need for storage), but we still have access to the house. We rent out a couple of rooms in the house which means it is always occupied, keeping us on side with the house insurance. It’s cost us a small fortune, but we now have a permanent base in the UK while we travel, an address and are on the electoral role.  The outbuilding thing might not be for everyone, but renting out a room or two could be an alternative to the whole house.

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5 Comments

  1. Hello Both. Good that you’re still blogging, even if it’s not quite so exciting now you’re back in the real world.
    Just thought I’d let you and others following your blog that we too have done the ring round checking on definitions of “full timing”, with a multitude of answers. The best quote by far came from Safeguard at not much more than £300 if I remember rightly. They were perfectly happy if we were away for 51 weeks a year, and were happy to give us a discount for “being parked on a driveway” as opposed to in the street, even when I specifically told them we may only be actually there for a few days a year! And it includes European breakdown cover!
    Still haven’t found anybody willing to give us fully comp insurance if we stay away for longer than a year and hence have no MOT, but thats a whole new minefield. Maybe you know better?
    Cheers, Peter and Elaine (full timing in ‘Heidi’ a Hymer B574)

    • Wow, that’s a bargain! Unfortunately Safeguard couldn’t quote us – I can’t remember which one was their reason but it was either because

      We weren’t in the UK at the time of renewal
      We were full timing
      I was unemployed
      We didn’t know who imported Dave

      They were our three blockers, but I think we might have been be a bit of a motorhoming exception!

      Can anyone else beat that price though? I doubt it!

      Julie

  2. Hi, it was not the easyest think to sort.we are with safeguard as well. 400 ish I think it was with brakebown. The only other one worth looking at was NFU, but think they wanted 600 ish.
    All where looked at in the UK. I think doing it from out side will make it hard. It was when living in Germany.

  3. hi everyone I’ve been touring the UK for 17 months to fulfil an ambition when I retired. My attempts to obtain ‘full timing’ insurance was a complete nightmare at first and my plans looked like fading away and I began to believe that a ‘two week jolly’ was the only option open to me. I contacted a number of insurance companies with an honest mind as soon as I mentioned ‘full timing’ the conversation ended at that point. I asked one company WHY can’t you insure me? There response was “you are regarded as high risk” I retorted by asking why? “Because of the miles you’ll be covering sir” I again asked the question, (in comparison to a sales person who travels the UK covering perhaps up to 12-15 thousand miles per year) so whose the risk? Which the operative couldn’t answer to my satisfaction. I eventually obtained insurance the insurance company insisted that my vehicle had to have an mobilizer, rear view camera which were already fitted and have a tracker installed, done. I had no evidence as to how many miles I would complete in my first year, my premiums high without the evidence until I completed my first year of travel. To my surprise I had completed just under 3000 miles and agreed to a ‘limited miles policy allowing me full comprehensive cover for 4000 miles which reduced my premiums considerably. The ‘property issues’ which previous contributors commented have also been addressed. The cover for my intended trip to Europe next year I’ve only been offered 60 days cover by my existing insurance company which includes breakdown and recovery back to the UK providing it doesn’t exceed £3000. Looks like more research is needed, unless anyone knows different, interested to hear your observations.

  4. …well, Good morning…I have to start somewhere as a Chinese politician once suggested, so here goes.
    I am an LGV driver, and spent many years taking boats around Europe, mostly to the south of France, Spain and the Algarve. I even had a Driving Instructors’ Licence for some time, so with all due modesty I have some idea of what I am doing.

    I am 62 and have been living in my flat in Bournemouth since 1986….half my life, butI am selling-up. My beautiful wife, Katy, died last year and with retirement looming, I thought that with one chapter closing in my life, I would sell my flat to payoff the mortgage and swan-off into the sunset to ….who knows what.

    Do you think that I can get Insurance for a Fulltime live-in Motorhome…? Not a bit of it! It’s bad enough for my everyday Mercedes car with limited mileage. I’m not expecting a free ride, Insurance Companies have a business to run, after all; but sometimes, maybe ‘honesty’ is not the best policy.

    The relation idea, (a temporary mailing address), would have legs up to a point – my sister is up towards Inverness…!

    All I want is a temporary arrangement whilst I weigh-up my options once the flat has been sold; retaining some mobility and independence, and to end-up perhaps in the West Country, which is where I was bringed-up.

    **update** I’m waiting for ‘Comfort’ to get back to me – fingers crossed!

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