With the after-effects of the recession still being widely felt, it is no surprise that the popularity of caravanning holidays is on the up.
The idea of taking your own accommodation with you now appeals to millions of Brits: research shows that 13 million caravan breaks were taken last year by UK residents, both at home and abroad.
That is why Confused.com has become the first price-comparison website to let you search for the best caravan insurance deals.
So if you’re planning to get into caravanning, here’s what you need to know.
Making your choice
If you’re new to caravan holidays, your first decision should be whether to buy a touring caravan – which you tow behind your car – or a static caravan that is parked on a particular site.
Static caravans are more suitable if you’ve found a particular place you’d be happy to return to every year – or even more frequently. (See our Guide to static caravan insurance.)
Touring caravans, on the other hand, give you much more freedom.
A touring caravan can cost anything from a few hundred pounds to many thousands, depending on its age and the facilities it has to offer.
What is important, though, is that your car can tow the model you buy. As a rule, whatever you are towing should not exceed 85 per cent of the weight of your car (in its unladen state – known as its kerbweight).
You car handbook should tell you the kerbweight, or the maximum amount it is allowed to tow.
When you buy a caravan, check its maximum laden weight – the dealer will be able to give you this information – and compare this with your car to ensure it is not above the 85 per cent figure, and therefore too heavy.
Check your licence
If you passed your car driving test before 1997, you have a towing limit (for vehicle and trailer) of up to 8.25 tonnes – so you should be free to tow the caravan of your choice.
But if you passed your category B driving test in 1997 or since then, you face restrictions on the amount you can tow: essentially you will not be able to tow something that, when combined with the weight of your car, is heavier than 3.5 tonnes.
Check your licence and the weight of your caravan if your licence was issued after the start of 1997: if necessary, you will have to take a further car and trailer test to get the authorisation to tow heavier loads.
New speed limits
If you’re towing a trailer or caravan, different speed limits apply: the maximum of 70mph is reduced to 60mph, while 50mph is the quickest you can go on a single-carriageway road.
European countries also impose greater speed restrictions on cars with caravans, so be sure to check before you go.
Get the right cover
As well as getting the right insurance for the caravan itself, make sure your car insurance covers you for towing: in most cases your normal policy should at least extend your cover for third-party risks, but it makes sense to check your policy documents or call your insurer in advance.
Confused.com now offers a caravan insurance comparison service – we’re the first comparison website to offer this. You can compare the best rates on policies for static caravans as well as touring caravans.
Beef up your security
Making sure your touring caravan isn’t stolen or broken into is important, and there are a number of security measures you can take.
There are three vital pieces of extra protection you need: an alarm that will sound if someone tries to break into your caravan; a hitch lock, to prevent would-be thieves using their own vehicle to tow your caravan away; and a tracker that will help you, or the police locate your caravan if it is stolen.
Theses measures are not just common sense: they will also help you reduce your caravan insurance premiums. Read more keeping your caravan secure in our caravan security guide.