Campervan insurance for day vans
Words and photos: Richard Dredge
One of the trends that we picked up on in our annual insurance survey was the increase in people buying day vans. The reasons for this include the rise in younger enthusiasts getting into campervanning, as well as the increasing number of people buying a small leisure vehicle that they can use on an everyday basis. Those two trends are inextricably linked, with an increase in the second group fuelled by a rise in the first, the intention of those younger motorhomers being to get away at the weekend to indulge in some outdoor pursuits.
So far so good, but such owners aren’t universally welcomed by insurance companies, because a lot of the time the vehicle being covered has been altered – potentially very significantly – since leaving the factory. And the problem with making modifications is that they can sometimes be done badly.
It’s possible to convert from a van to a motorhome (or motor caravan as the DVLA calls them); there’s a raft of companies out there doing this all the time. But some insurers get the jitters if you try to cover a campervan when it’s still classed as a commercial vehicle (or van) as far as the DVLA is concerned. The key is to check what’s on the vehicle’s V5C (registration document), as that’s what most insurers go by.
The thing is, in recent years, it’s been a lot harder to get a van reclassified as a ‘motor caravan’ because the DVLA has been much less inclined to help. Everything you need to know is supposedly available on a gov.uk page helpfully called ‘Converting a vehicle into a motorhome’. The problem is that even the DVLA’s own inspectors have been refusing to reclassify camper conversions – including some undertaken by professional converters.
According to the DVLA’s own website, to qualify as a motorhome, a vehicle must have “two or more windows on at least one side of the body” as well as an “awning bar attached to both sides of the vehicle” plus “motor caravan-style graphics on both sides of the vehicle”. Inside, there must be seats and a table, cooking and storage facilities, plus sleeping accommodation (which might be converted from seats). The problem has been that, if the DVLA’s bods don’t think your vehicle looks enough like a motorhome (and there’s seemingly a great degree of subjectivity involved), the computer will say no.
BENEFITS OF MOTOR CARAVAN CLASSIFICATION
So, if you’re buying a motorhome that didn’t start out as such, check its V5C or you could find that insurance becomes a problem. Another legal consideration is that motorhomes have different (higher) speed restrictions compared with light commercial vehicles so, if your campervan is actually registered as a van, you could potentially be nicked for speeding if you drive it like a motorhome.
When we’ve done our annual survey before, we’ve come up against our sample motorhome being based on a panel van but converted professionally to become a leisure vehicle instead of a commercial one. Insured as a van, the premium would typically be 10-20% more because theft rates for such vehicles are higher. Also, your contents insurance will be more generous for a motorhome, so it really is in your interests to make sure that your camper is correctly classified by the DVLA.
Andrew Evanson of Motorhome Protect comments, “The growth in the popularity of staycations and short day trips, largely caused by foreign travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic, means people of all ages are hopping into a motorhome for a little break.
“Day van owners tend be younger, as they often want to use the vehicle more regularly than just for holidays, making it a more affordable purchase. We recognise the difficulty in registering these vehicles with the DVLA and are able to cover them under motorhome policies, as long as the facilities on board make it suitable for use as a camper or motorhome. In addition, day vans that have limited facilities on board can be covered under specialist policies where the benefits are more like an everyday car policy.”
In association with Motorhome Protect Insurance Specialist
Tel: 01865 818331
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