Our guide to camping insurance
Got the tent? Check! Sleeping bags? Check! The kids? Check! Got insurance? Insurance?
Despite the huge increases in the number of camping converts in recent years, many campers, myself included, have not considered or even realised that insurance for camping equipment and holidays is either necessary or available.
Camping is often considered as a cheap alternative to a package holiday abroad, not to mention the fact that camping equipment is as cheap as it’s ever been. Is it really worth forking out for special insurance?
But, have you ever stopped to consider the value of all your camping gear when it’s put together? A collection that has grown over the years could cost thousands of pounds to replace should something happen to it.
Generally, campsites are incredibly safe, and the majority of fellow campers abide by amiable camping codes of conduct; respecting other campers’ equipment, privacy and safety. However, with more and more people heading to campsites, the chance of equipment being damaged or stolen may be on the increase.
If your tent and all the accessories inside it were destroyed by a fire or stolen, then not only would the remaining holiday be ruined, but the cost of replacing the equipment could mean jeopardising future camping trips.
With all this in mind, it could be worth considering some form of insurance for your holiday and for your equipment. With prices varying from £15 to £150, looking into the options below could be helpful.
For basic cover for your camping equipment and valuables, you may consider approaching your home contents insurer first. Most insurers offer an ‘away-from-home’ package, to insure the items you take away from the house.
Usually these include things like mobile phones, cameras, jewellery or laptops for example (all of which you may take on your camping holiday), but if you contact the insurer and let them know about additional items you’d like insured, like your tent, they may be able to add them to the policy. Depending on the value of your equipment, you may have to pay an additional premium.
Also remember that most policies won’t cover cycles away from home, unless you have specifically added them to the policy. There is usually an additional premium for these.
In recent years there has been an increase in companies offering insurance aimed specifically at campers. The type of cover and cost vary widely, but most insurers will provide adequate cover for your tent and accessories.
Some policies replace your equipment on a new-for-old basis, usually providing the claim is made within a year or two of purchasing it. Some policies have this as standard, but some will add a premium – it’s worth checking.
If new-for-old is not included, then insurers will generally pay market value for any equipment covered; which for a five-year old tent, won’t amount to much.
Many insurance policies will also cover the cost of hiring replacement equipment should anything happen to yours. This means if something happens to your tent, the holiday can carry on regardless. Some will also pay the cost of a B&B or hotel, but be aware that such benefits are usually subject to a maximum payout – in some cases as little as £150.
Some companies offer a tailor made policy so you can cover exactly the value of what you own, without paying excessively, and you may be able to place a separate value on your tents and accessories.
However, it is worth noting that many camping insurance policies don’t cover items like spectacles, mobile phones, SatNavs or personal audio equipment when they are left unattended in the tent.
Travel insurance can be incredibly useful, even on a UK camping trip. While it probably won’t cover the total cost of your equipment, it will usually cover valuables and cash, if these are lost or stolen.
It will also usually cover cancellations, and given the rising cost of some campsites during peak season, this could be worth having. Many policies will pay the cost of any deposits or payments made if you have to cancel due to illness, home emergencies or bad weather; check which circumstances are covered on each individual policy. Some policies will also insure against missing ferries or trains.
While medical assistance is of course freely available in the UK, many travel insurance policies will cover the cost of moving you to a closer hospital to home should you happen to get stuck in one that’s far away.
Cash away from home is not usually covered on home insurance policies but can be covered (up to a certain limit – usually about £300) with travel insurance. Travel insurance will cover the cost of personal possessions, but again only up to a certain limit, so if you have a particularly expensive tent or piece of equipment, this probably won’t be covered. It’s worth speaking to your travel insurance company to check what’s covered, and what you can add.
Even if you do choose to take out insurance for your camping trips and equipment, the onus is on you to ensure that reasonable care is taken of all equipment and valuables. All campers should have basic items like fire bucket, fire extinguisher and fire blanket to hand and know how to use them – a small fire caught quickly is easier to deal with than something that has taken hold and threatens a number of units. And campers should be familiar with the campsite’s fire policy and location of extinguishers.
Security could mean fitting a padlock to the tent zip (obviously thieves could still rip the fabric to gain entry, but as this is more conspicuous, they are less likely to) and locking valuables like phones, wallets and cameras away in the car if you’re away from the tent (there are small car safes available), or keeping them close by at night.
There are also alarms on the market that are ideal for use while camping. The Cavius (cavius.com – tested February 2008 issue) is a motion sensor alarm that can be placed in the tent, or near to valuables. It will sound when it senses movement, and it has smoke detector and panic alarm functions too. There are also many other PIR motion sensor alarms available in outdoor or hardware stores.
Finally, always read the key facts of any policy carefully before purchasing and insurance, so you are totally sure what is covered and what isn’t. That way there’ll be no nasty surprises if you ever need to claim.
It’s worth noting the following points when you’re considering camping insurance:
- Exclusions to policies may include damage by mildew, rot, vermin or pets
- If you have a trailer tent, you’ll need specific insurance.
- Many insurance policies won’t cover for damage caused by Acts of God. If your tent and belongings are trashed in a storm or flood, then chances are you won’t be covered. Check with your insurer.
- Check that your policy will pay out in the case of a fire caused by lighting or cooking equipment – the main causes of tent fires. There are some policies that won’t. It’s also worth checking what the situation is if your tent caught fire and caused damage to other tents on the site.
- Many policies don’t cover equipment whilst being carried on a roof rack. And check if your camping trailer needs special insurance and that you are insured to tow.
- Check the excess! The cheaper the policy, the higher the excess is likely to be, which may make it unfeasible to claim.
- Travel insurance policies usually provide cover for UK holidays providing they are more than 25 miles from home – not much good if you’re only heading to the local campsite for a night.
- Many policies have the following (or similar) statement: “Theft of Equipment from an unattended Tent unless it has sides that completely enclose the interior in which case the maximum Insurers will pay is £50 per single article or £100 in all.” You’ll need to decide if your equipment is worth over £100 should it be stolen.
Do not be ruled by paranoia – problems are rare and many accidents, like the risk of fire, can be minimised by good camping practice. Theft may be on the increase but it is still a rare occurrence that can be countered by taking measures like stimulating a sub conscious ‘pitch watch scheme’ by getting to know your neighbours. The following may also help to minimise incidents:
- Don’t choose a pitch that is too remote, or that is too close to places where thieves can gain easy access to the site; for example near fences or rivers.
- Use a padlock or an alarm to secure the tent during the day. Thieves are much more unlikely to strike if they think there’s any chance of getting caught, and so won’t want to draw attention to themselves by slashing fabric in the daytime.
- Either lock your valuables in the car boot overnight or when you when you leave the tent unattended.
Shield Total Insurance, the outdoor leisure insurance specialists, offers practical advice to help you make an informed decision with your camping insurance needs. We asked them for some top tips:
- Comprehensive tent insurance cover is designed to protect your tent, camping equipment, contents and personal effects from loss or damage caused by accidental damage, fire, theft, vandalism, flood and storm damage (the most common type of tent claim). With premiums starting from just £31.80, it is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
- Check to see that you have “loss of use” cover. If your tent becomes unusable following an insured incident, it will contribute towards the reasonable costs of hotel accommodation and the hire of a similar tent to enable you to continue your holiday e.g. you may be due to depart on a pre booked holiday with your tent and a repair or replacement cannot be completed by your planned departure date.
- In addition, the policy should cover your legal liability for causing injury to a third party arising from the use or ownership of your tent.
- It is good practice to read the Key Facts Summary provided. This sets out the main policy benefits and any significant exclusions that apply.
- Does the provider readily understand the differences between a tent, trailer tent and folding camper? You want the comfort of knowing you are dealing with a specialist who can offer useful advice, anticipate your concerns and have appropriate contacts to ensure claims are dealt with properly.
Want specialist camping insurance? Try these for starters:
Alan Rogers Insurance Tel 01580 214 004 Web alanrogers.com/insurance
Camping and Caravanning Club (for members) Tel 01277 243000 Web thefriendlyclub.co.uk
E & L Tel 08449 809 520 Web eandl.co.uk
Shield Insurance Tel 0800 975 1394 Web shieldtotalinsurance.co.uk
For more handy camping guides, click here.