Protecting your Caravan
Written by Terry Owen
Our tech writer examines the influence of security measures on the cost of insuring your caravan.
Security and insurance: How to obtain great insurance premium discounts by choosing the right security for your caravan.
A caravan represents a big investment, so it makes sense to protect it through some security measures, backed up by the best insurance you can afford.
Secure storage sites
From a security point of view, the first consideration should be where you keep your caravan. It's interesting to note that in 2014, according to figures from Shield Total Insurance, 57% of caravan thefts took place at home - compared to just 3% from secure storage sites.
If ever there was an argument for using secure storage that has to be it. But how do you find a safe storage place and how do you know if it's truly secure?
The answer is to visit the website of CaSSOA. It is the Caravan Storage Site Owners' Association, and its aim is 'to reduce caravan theft by promoting the highest levels of security on caravan storage sites.'The organisation oversees some 400 secure storage sites across the UK.
All CaSSOA sites have to meet minimum levels of security and are classified according to the level of protection they provide.
Bronze accreditation is the basic award and calls for perimeter protection and lockable gates. Apparently, most sites start here and quickly work their way up with the advice and guidance of CaSSOA's independent surveyor.
Silver comes next and must include additional features such as CCTV and monitored entry and exit of the site.
Gold accreditation is the highest award and requires the adoption of a comprehensive range of security measures. Over 50% of CaSSOA sites have Gold certification.
Each location is re-surveyed every five years to ensure that they maintain standards.
Insurance companies recognise the security provided by CaSSOA sites and may offer discounts for those who use them. These can be as much as 25% (see later).
Secure storage will certainly reduce the chance of theft, but that doesn't mean you should forget about basic security measures such as a hitch lock and wheel clamp. However, check with the site operator first to see if these devices are allowed. Some forbid them on the basis that they may need to move your caravan quickly in the event of a fire. If this is the case you should discuss the matter with your insurance company as the fitting of a wheel clamp and hitch lock is typically mandatory.
Storage at home
For many the sheer convenience of home-storage outweighs the risks but there is still much that can be done to reduce them. Top of the list has to be to keep your caravan out of sight, especially if you live near a main road. It will not only make thieves less likely to discover its presence; it won't be so obvious you're away when the caravan is missing.
Shield Total Insurance told us"Our claims prove that caravans are much more vulnerable to theft when they’re kept at home. We suspect that many are stolen by organised gangs, so it’s always best to keep your caravan out of sight if you can. Always use as many security devices as possible, and regularly check to see if any of them have been tampered with."
The point about using multiple devices is about buying time. The longer it will take a thief to overcome your security measures the less likely he is to steal your caravan.
Caravan Guard says"Our stats show that a caravan fitted with extra security devices is less likely to be stolen, so with the likelihood of having to pay for a theft claim reduced, insurers reward the fitting of security with sizeable premium discounts."
In addition to the mandatory wheel clamp and hitch lock, you could consider fitting steady locks (see below), a security post and an alarm.
It's also worth removing some or all of the upholstery as this will dramatically reduce the value of your caravan to a thief.
Also, you may wish to protect your caravan with CCTV. Prices for these systems have fallen dramatically in recent years, and insurance companies may give discounts where CCTV recording is in operation.
Corner Steady Locks
Steady locks are easy to fit and provide a valuable extra layer of security. They work by blocking access to the winding nut.
An alarm may not stop your caravan from being stolen, but it will draw attention to what is happening and make life more uncomfortable for the thief. The best arrangement is an alarm linked to a tracking device whereby a central control room can alert you and keep tabs on the caravan if it moves (see next section).
Tracking devices won't prevent your caravan from being stolen, but they can be very useful in getting it back again. However, according to Tim Booth, from the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS), some can trackers can be much more effective than others.
He told us that"Whilst many newer caravans come with tracking equipment, a high proportion of these require the owners to be aware that their property has been stolen. In many cases it was some considerable time before the owners became aware and the activation of tracking equipment failed to reveal the current locations.”
In Tim's experience, the highest recovery rates are with those devices that linked to an alarm and a 24-hour control room. It notifies the police within minutes of the theft occurring and caravans are often recovered before thieves do any real damage.
Insurance companies usually have lists of approved tracking devices for which they will give a discount. It can be as much as 25% (see later).
Thefts from caravans
With caravans getting harder to steal, thieves are increasingly targeting their contents. Mobile phones, tablets, cameras, laptops and TV's are among the top items valued by the criminal fraternity.
Window locks and high-security door locks will help to deter the casual thief but will not put off the professional, who will do whatever is needed to gain entry.
The best way to protect valuables is to remove them from the caravan and leave the cupboards open so thieves can see there is nothing worth stealing.
Most insurers offer some form of contents cover, but basic insurance policies may not include the contents or equipment, or indeed awnings. Other policies may exclude valuables.
Earning an insurance discount
All insurance policies will require you to fit a wheel clamp and hitch lock as a minimum but, if you're prepared to do more, you should be able to earn some discount. Here are some examples of discounts you might receive from two of the industry's largest insurers.
Axle wheel lock
|Approved tracking device||Factory fitted alarm||Tyron safety bands||Anti-snaking device||
(Camping & Caravanning Club)
|20% max||25% max||5% max||10%||5%||20% Gold
Many insurers tend not to publish such figures, preferring to speak to you personally and come up with an all-in price for your specific circumstances.
All we can say is that you should get some discount for an axle wheel lock (AL-KO/BPW), a tracking device approved by the insurance company, and the use of a CaSSOA Gold or Silver storage site.
You may also receive a discount for things like a factory fitted alarm, Tyron safety bands, Tyre pressure monitoring, an anti-snaking device, CCTV protection and club membership.
However, if you own a higher value caravan or one that is deemed to be at greater risk from a theft point of view, you may be required to fit additional security simply to get cover.
Sold Secure-Assessed Security Products
When buying security products look out for the 'Sold Secure' logo. Sold Secure is an independent organisation belonging to the Master Locksmiths Association. It carries out assessments of security products and rates them according to the time and tools needed to overcome them.
There are three main levels of accreditation namely Bronze, Silver & Gold. A fourth level, Diamond, is reserved for a small number of high-end products such as the AL-KO and BPW wheel locks.
The ratings reflect the security built into the products. The higher the rating (Bronze being the lowest), the higher the security offered by the device.
Beware products that claim to meet a particular Sold Secure standard, e.g. Gold. It does not necessarily mean the product has reached the Sold Secure standard. It may only mean the manufacturer believes it would do so if submitted.
The issue here is that manufacturers have to pay to have their products assessed and not all want to do so. If you have any doubt about a product, pop along to Sold Secure's website (www.soldsecure.com) where you can see details of all the goods that have been approved by them.
Here's a roundup of wheel clamps and hitch locks approved by Sold Secure. The ratings relate to use on a caravan or trailer. Products not listed may be just as good, but there's no guarantee.
One product not listed is Milenco's Mega Storage wheel clamp. Milenco claims it far exceeds the Sold Secure Gold standard, being resistant to most common means of attack including oxy-acetylene cutting. As the name implies it's really designed for caravans in storage where size and weight (nearly 30kg) are not issues.
|Bulldog Euroclamp EM 500 SS||X||10 secs claimed fitting time|
|Bulldog Titan Wheel Clamp||X||Covers all wheel bolts|
|Bulldog Centaur Wheel clamp||X||As above but with strengthened steel bottom arms|
|Bulldog QD22,QD33 & QD44 Wheel Clamps||X||Quick to fit without keys|
|Keep It Condor Wheel Clamp (Geo Dyke)||X||Lightweight, easy to fit|
|Maypole Alloy Wheel Clamp (5436)||X||Uses special wheel bolt|
|Maypole Atlas Wheel Clamp SH5438||X||Includes locking wheel bolts for extra security|
|Maypole Atlas Wheel Clamp SH5439||X||Fits most wheels|
|Maypole Scimitar Wheel Clamp (SH5437)||X||Alloy wheels only, includes locking wheel bolts|
|Maypole Stronghold Strongarm Wheel clamp||X||Uses two replacement wheel bolts|
|Milenco Compact C Wheel clamp||X||Clamps alloy wheel to chassis, weighs just 2.7kg|
|Milenco Original Wheel Clamp||X||Wheel size specific|
|SAS New Defender Wheel clamp||X||Fits all wheels|
|SAS Supaclamp Duo Silver||X||Cordless drill aids fitting|
|SAS Supaclamp Duo Gold||X||Cordless drill aids fitting|
|AL-KO Premium Safety||X||Launched in 2015|
|Bulldog AA Hitch Lock||X||Suits AL-KO hitch heads|
|Bulldog DM Mini Lock||X||Suits AL-KO hitch heads|
|Bulldog WW100 Hitch lock||X||For Winterhoff stabilisers|
|Maypole Hitch lock for AKS 2004, AKS 1300, AKS 300 & AK 160||X||Suits AL-KO hitch heads|
|Maypole Stronghold WS3000 Hitch Lock||X||For Winterhoff stabilisers|
|Milenco Super Heavy Duty AKS3004 Hitch lock||X||Suits AL-KO AKS 3004 stabilisers|
|Milenco Super Heavy Duty WS3000||X||For Winterhoff stabilisers|
|Winterhoff GmBH Robstop WS 3000 Plus||X||For Winterhoff stabilisers|
CRiS registration scheme
Founded in 1992 CRiS (Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme) holds a central database of all UK manufactured (and some imported caravans) and their registered keepers. Each window is etched with the caravan's unique VIN number and, since 1997, an RFID chip carrying that number has been embedded in the caravan during construction. The chip can only be read with special readers that have been issued to the police.
Keepers are issued with a registration document similar to the V5 used for cars. The document is accepted as proof of ownership and can be used abroad where such documentation is mandatory.
Recent enhancements, introduced for the 2016 model year, include an updated chip carrying more information and tamper evident window stickers replacing etching. A master sticker on the window by the entrance door contains a QR code that can be read by any smart phone with a suitable app. If the phone has an internet connection, it will log onto the CRiS database and display the full details of the caravan - right down to its layout and fitted equipment.