Hiring a motorhome - nine essential steps
Hiring and collecting a motorhome
Having decided what type of motorhome, how many beds and space you need, you should now be ready to start the actual motorhome hire process. If you haven't decided yet on the perfect motorhome or campervan, then just click here to read our motorhome hire guides.
1. Finding the right hire location
There are two options to finding the best hire location. The first is to decide whether you are happy making your own way to where the motorhome hire company has the vehicle and collect it in person.
Some companies have secure parking so you can drive there with all your belongings and leave your car, take the motorhome out and then return it back. Others don’t, in which case you will need to use public transport and then there is the disadvantage of having to haul your suitcases to the hire location. The advantage of going to the area where you are going to use the motorhome is that you cut down on petrol costs and save time if getting there by car.
The alternative is to hire from your nearest company. Again, there may be secure car parking, but it will certainly be easier to get there by public transport. The alternative, if there are two drivers, is to drop someone off to collect the motorhome, then follow the initial driver back to your house to collect all your belongings and supplies for the trip. This stage is all about managing how you are going to get to and from the motorhome and the hire depot.
Also, ask the hire company if it has a drop off and/or collection service. If so, it may bring the motorhome to you or come and collect you and drive you to the depot.
2. Making a booking
Most companies will have prices on their websites. You can guarantee that it will be more expensive in the summer holidays or when a major festival is taking place – particularly for campervans. Some companies have online booking systems but others require you to call them or go to the office in person. Either way, you’ll need your credit or debit card.
3. Leave a deposit
If you are booking in advance you can often leave a deposit to secure the booking and then pay the balance nearer the time. It’s important to check all the rules and conditions of booking and whether the deposit is refundable within a certain time frame so the money isn’t lost if circumstances change.
Motorhome hire companies will also ask for a security deposit, in addition to the actual hire charge. This is to cover damage. Many motorhome and campervan dealers offer a try-before-you-buy option where they will take the cost of the hire and deduct it from the price you pay for the motorhome.
4. Limitations and insurance
Some hire companies will have age limits on who can hire their motorhomes. These will be for young drivers and those near or above retirement age. In some cases they may exclude certain age group altogether, in others you will be allowed to hire the motorhome but there may be an additional insurance cost.
Insurance comes as part of the hire because you don’t want to write off a £60,000 motorhome and have to pay for it. Usually the hire will be fully comprehensive for the named driver, but if there’s a party of adults it makes sense to spread the driving load by adding additional drivers, for a fee, so in case of emergencies, someone else can drive the motorhome back. If the named driver has any medical conditions, these must be discussed before booking is complete as they may invalidate the insurance.
For the insurance, the policy will carry an excess charge. This is a sum that you will have to pay first in the event of an accident that is your fault. If another driver admits responsibility you won’t have to pay it. The excess can often be quite steep but you can also pay a nominal sum for a Collision Damage Waiver which will reduce or negate the excess. It’s your choice which to go for.
A final limitation to consider relates to your driving licence. If you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997 then you will be limited to hiring a 3,500kg (total weight including passengers and contents) vehicle unless you pass additional driving tests to gain eligibility on your licence.
5. Booking optional extras
Some motorhomes will come with a range of accessories but others will have them available as an optional charge. These can include awnings, barbeques, bike racks and bikes, sat navs and TVs.
The larger the motorhome, the more extras tend to be included by default. If there’s something you really want, either budget for it as an extra cost or look to a slightly more expensive motorhome to hire that has the features you want.
Also check what the motorhome actually comes equipped with - are there towels, bedding, cutlery and pots and pans, or do you have to supply everything?
6. Breakdown cover
This will come as part of the insurance and motorhome rental charge, but is often limited to just the UK. There may also be a mileage limit as well.
Check the small print to ensure you are covered for what you intend to do. If you are heading for Europe, ensure that the breakdown policy is extended so you are covered.
7. Picking the motorhome up
When it comes to collecting your motorhome, you will need to bring your driving licence so don’t forget it. On the handover, firstly check the motorhome for any dents or internal damage. There will be a form to sign saying that what flaws it does or doesn’t have. If it has a dent and you don’t get it declared on the hire form, you may be liable when you get back.
Get the hire staff to demonstrate as many features on the motorhome as possible. It’s worth recording this on your phone or camera, for reference later when you get to camp up. Also, if something doesn’t work properly, you can get it signed off now so you aren’t liable for it when you come back.
If you have brought all your clothes and travel kit to the motorhome, transfer everything and pack it all securely. Then, it’s time for the adventure to begin. Remember, all your passengers must be in a forward or backwards facing seat, with a seatbelt fitted.
8. In the case of any accidents
For something minor that doesn’t involve another vehicle, then take note of what has happened, photograph the damage and call the insurance or breakdown company that was specified in the hire agreement. If the worst should happen and you are in an accident with another vehicle, the process is the same as if you were in a car.
Firstly, put on your hazard lights and turn off the engine. By law you must call the police if you are the driver and anyone else has been injured, damage has been caused to another vehicle or someone else’s property, or an animal (horse, cattle, sheep, pig, goat or dog) has been injured or killed on the road.
Even if the accident is not your fault, you cannot simply drive off. You must stop at the scene so that you can exchange details with other drivers, or wait for the police if that is required. It’s a legal requirement to give your vehicle registration number, name and address to anyone else at the scene who asks for them. If you don’t, those details must be supplied to a police station or officer within 24 hours.
9. Returning the motorhome
Hopefully your holiday all went well, nothing broke and everyone had a good time. You must return the motorhome with the agreed amount of fuel in it. Some will be supplied with just enough to get to the nearest petrol station, others will start full and you are expected to fill it up before returning. Failure to do so will incur a charge that will usually be more than it would cost to simply fill it up yourself.
As much as you can, clean the motorhome inside and remember to empty the toilet. Unpack your stuff and the hire company will come out to do an inspection, referring to the hire form that showed any pre-existing faults. Any new damage will either be charged for or claimed against the insurance, subject to the excess charges agreed at the start. Make sure you get a copy of the sign-off sheet that shows the motorhome has been returned in the same condition it was hired in.