The Insurance Minefield

Below I mutter on about the anomalies I have stumbled across relating to insurance cover and while I feel better for getting them off my chest there are a few lessons to be learnt.   We all like to feel as secure as possible when we take our pride and joy out so its important to ensure we have the right cover of insurance all round.  With dozens of companies offering “the best deal” for camper insurance, Breakdown insurance, Travel insurance and insurance to cover any mopeds, cars, motorcycles or bicycles that we take with us.  Now sadly I note that there are some people among us that believe that either the Caravan Club or Camping and Caravan Club offerings are the best – after all they are tailored specifically for its members.  Not true.  For one thing the caravan club (and C&CC) is no different to the likes of Tesco or Sainsbury’s in that they are merely agents for the “real underwriters”   What that means is that they are not prepared to take above average risks and so impose limits on their policies.

Let me explain – Tesco will try for your business by offering a very competitive quote for a Ford family car driven by a 35+ year old driver with 10+ years no claims bonus.  However if the driver decides to change his or her car for say Mercedes or Jaguar then the quote rockets to such extent that the driver walks away.  Its no different with either the CC or C&CC – if you have a nice family Swift caravan or a Lunar Welcome Motorhome and over 35 with 10+ year no claims bonus then they will give you a very competitive quote.  However if your camper costs over £50K or is more than 7 meters long or has a height of over 3 meters or weighs more than 3500kgs then these clubs don’t want to know either.  In short they are only interested in the “Mr Average”.  However it doesn’t stop there – read on.

Many insurance agents/underwriters will spell out limitations of their benefits and point out features such as “We will pay all customs duty on spares that need to be shipped” – how very good of them but in reality the vast majority of us travel only within the EU where no customs duty is levied between states.  The Underwriters are further covered as the policy limits define the EU as the only countries covered. – nice one.  Many companies impose limitations on windscreen replacement.  So folks with many of the A class motorhomes such as N+B, Concorde, Pheonix and Carthago could be faced with a huge bill if their windscreen breaks.  The front windscreen on a Flair or Concorde costs over £10,000 yet most companies set a limit of £3000 for windscreen replacement leaving a shortfall of £7000.    Important physical limitations such as weight, height or length are usually hidden in the exclusions section of the policy document yet these companies will still accept you even when you give them your sizes but presumably if you broke down or had an accident they would look to refusing to pay out as you are “outside their limitations”

The Caravan Club has a very odd exclusion that cannot be found in their policy document – they won’t cover you for Solar Panels – how odd is that.  The Caravan Club has Red Pennant travel insurance that is tailored especially for “Mr Average” caravan or Motorhome owner yet the premium is extortionate – up to five times more expensive than its rivals however they pad out their policy with “benefits” such as compensation if you return your hired caravan late, increased public liability from £1 million to £2 million or increase the maximum payout for lost credit cards from £200 to £300 then  claim to have the policy tailored for you – big deal.  Any reputable company will include all the items that are required.

My advice is to download or ask for a copy of the policy document before you commit to buying any insurance, including Breakdown insurance.  Check out the limitations and exclusions to make sure you are covered no matter what.

Renewals

Why is it that insurance companies will not give out a renewal notice (or premium) until you are within 28 days of the expiry date?  We had a tricky problem to solve this year (2013) as our policy expired on the 31st March and we are travelling on holiday from the end of Feb and not returning until mid April.  We contacted our insurers to ask for either an extension of the existing policy, early renewal (accepting that we would loose the remaining 5 weeks) or even take out a new policy with the same company.  No Not possible.  They would not extend the existing policy, nor would they renew the current policy until we were within 28 days of its expiry date – why ever not?  They would not cancel our existing policy and take out a new policy immediately.  This resulted in forcing us to take out a new policy with another company (that turned out to be some £83 cheaper than last years)  Very frustrating as we were perfectly happy with our current provider.

On health insurance it always niggles me when you get penalised  with an additional cost    when taking out medical travel insurance simply because you are taking medication for something.  I find this really odd because if you go to a doctor and get medication for say high blood pressure and that medication controls the problem then surely you are less at risk than someone who has never been to a doctor and their medical condition is unknown.

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