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Motorhome insurance: Motorhome mods


Words Richard Dredge

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What are mods?

This article is on mods, but not the type that used to assemble on the seafront in Brighton, causing havoc. No, we're talking about modifications, alterations or upgrades to your motorhome, and while making these might seem like an innocuous enough thing to do, it can give your insurance company palpitations.

Insurers like everything to be predictable and uniform, and they break into a cold sweat when they hear that one of their customers has deviated from the standard spec of their motorhome. When you think about it, their attitude is understandable, even if it doesn’t seem like much fun. You see, the problem is that people often overestimate their competence when it comes to electrics, plumbing, DIY and even routine maintenance. When you see the students’ house go up in flames in The Young Ones, because Vyvyan has somehow managed to wire the toilet seat into the mains, it’s all one big jolly jape. But when your motorhome is burned to a cinder because you’re clueless with a multimeter, you and your insurance company probably won’t find things so funny.

Be honest

This is the problem with modifying your motorhome; your insurer can’t be sure that you know what you’re doing. And for that matter, do you know what you’re doing? The sort of things that owners get up to might include incorporating modern lighting such as LEDs, fitting upgraded entertainment systems, or fitting solar panels to the roof, to keep a leisure battery topped up.

All of these things might seem innocent enough but, if you get the wiring wrong, you could end up causing a short circuit and then a fire. Even if you do know what you’re doing, some of the upgrades will make your motorhome more attractive to thieves, who will either want to steal your new equipment or they might want to pinch the whole vehicle. Come clean with your insurer and the chances are that your premium will go up a bit to reflect the increased risk. 

A bit more poke

Most of the modifications that motorhome owners undertake are focused on making their mobile life more comfortable, so it’s a true home from home. But we’re living in an age when it’s very easy to increase the power of your motorhome’s engine. Mechanical upgrades aren’t the sort of thing that appeal to most motorhome owners; those are normally left to the teenagers whizzing around out-of-town car parks on a Saturday evening, in their souped-up Fiestas and Corsas. But, if you want a bit more poke from your turbo-diesel, it’s possible to chip your motorhome’s ECU for some extra power and torque, and often to improve the economy at the same time.

Take a Fiat Ducato, for example, which in 2.3 MultiJet II form offers up to 177bhp. But for around £350, you can increase this by a third to 235bhp, while torque jumps from 295lb ft to 360lb ft – and all while potentially delivering more miles per gallon. Why wouldn’t you? For starters, because your insurer will increase your premium, because of the increased risk from your motorhome being more powerful.

Not all mods attract a premium loading, though. If you’re making your vehicle safer, such as by installing improved anti-surge protection to the electrics, or fitting Tyron Multibands (tyron.co.uk) to avoid crashing in the event of a blowout, you shouldn’t be penalised for this; some companies will even reward you. As always, the key is to speak to your insurer before you make any changes to your motorhome, and they’ll tell you what will stop them lying awake at night.

Motorhome Protect's Andrew Evanson concludes,


We don't break into a cold sweat at Motorhome Protect. We cover a number of non-standard mods, and understand owners want to make changes to their vehicles. There’s a good chance that any mod that makes a motorhome more desirable to a thief, or involves changing the performance of a vehicle, would increase premiums or excesses. But any work to make it more comfortable inside, practical changes, or those to improve safety are unlikely to make any difference to the price.


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