Who is Comfort Insurance?
Insurance is one of those essentials that can be invaluable when you need it, but you hope you never will.
The cost of policies varies, as does the type and level of cover on offer. But now there is a new policy that could actually help you make money from your motorhome or campervan.
With the average cost of a new motorhome or campervan now over £50,000, the investment is significant.
However, many motorhomes are left idle for months at a time. This leads many people to ask themselves whether they can afford to buy a motorhome that they are possibly only going to use for a few weeks a year.
But, with the rise of peer-to-peer rental, driven by services such as Airbnb, the conclusion of many motorhomers is that their investment can – and should – earn them money.
Many newcomers are comfortable with the sharing economy and also with buying on finance and PCP (personal contract purchase). To do this they look for ways to fund those finance repayments through making their investment work.
“It is families who are buying new campervans and motorhomes and it is finance that is driving this,” says Ben Cue, Director of Operations at Comfort Insurance. “And this is where our new hire product comes in, which opens motorhoming up to more families and, for many, it will help them cover the acquisition costs by hiring their motorhome out.”
The new insurance product allows owners to rent their vehicle safe in the knowledge that they – and the person renting – have full insurance cover for the duration of the rental. This could be anything from a day to a month.
The new policy has taken two years to bring to market. “There have been technical and legal challenges to overcome but now it is ready,” explains Ben. “We have had to make sure it is the right product.”
Currently, motorhome and campervan owners have the option to add drivers, typically friends and family, to their policy but, in doing so, this could affect their claim record (if the additional driver has an accident) and this won’t cover hire. With the new policy, friends, family or the hirer takes out the insurance in their name and, in the event of a claim, the vehicle is fully insured and there’s no impact on the owner’s claims record.
“The person who is going to hire or borrow your motorhome will arrange the insurance and take out the policy,” explains Ben. “They will need to show this policy to the owner of the motorhome. We will provide guides, such as handover procedures – to help the owner check the hirer’s licence and for both the hirer and owner to agree the pre-hire condition of the vehicle, etc – but the key thing is we will give the right insurance cover and we will do checks on the person to qualify them.”
The arrival of this type of product has been driven by the market. “We know already that many of our customers are interested in this,” he says. “We know there is demand out there for this type of insurance…people are already searching for it.”
Earn from your motorhome investment
The principle is simple – if someone wants to rent your motorhome, you can now do so safe in the knowledge that they are fully insured.
“The owner must still do a comprehensive handover and do their own checks,” explains Ben. “We will provide a suggested handover document but the contract is between the owner and the person who is hiring the motorhome and the owner will still need a contract even if they are renting to friends or family.”
It is the aspect – renting to people known or related to the owner – that is expected to drive uptake. Owners are likely to trial the policy by lending/renting to people they know and trust and, as they become familiar with the process, then some are likely to rent to a wider pool.
“We are very early onto the scene and we expect this to grow and grow,” says Ben. “It is like the Airbnb model for motorhomes. Now you can hire your motorhome knowing it is underwritten by your insurer.”
The cost of a typical rental policy is between £19 and £24 a day including breakdown cover. To qualify, vehicles must be aged 12 years and younger and not be worth more than £100,000.
Cover is available from between one and 30 days and will cover the van to be used in the UK and Europe. The owner must have a Comfort policy already to use the new service.
There are also some safety rules. “The motorhome needs an up-to-date vehicle service and a habitation certificate,” explains Ben. “We do think there is a need for some regulations so people who are renting know the motorhome is safe for their family to be in. While it will appeal to many owners, it also opens motorhoming up to the younger families and those who want to go away in a motorhome but can’t afford to buy one,” he says.
Moving with the motorhome insurance market
The motorhome insurance market has changed significantly since Comfort was born just over 40 years ago.
One of the innovations it has developed is a motorhome database. “With a car there’s the ABI (Association of British Insurers) rating but for motorhomes there wasn’t anything,” explains Ben. “If you put the registration of your motorhome into the database, it comes up with ‘Fiat Ducato’ rather than the motorhome model, so we created our own database.”
This led to Comfort being the first to offer a quote-and-buy online service. However, while it offers this service, Ben still wants customers to talk to Comfort. “We want the person-to-person contact. People window shop online but we want people to talk to us,” he explains. “We have a lot of training and have a script to follow that ensures we ask all the right questions so we can quote correctly. Our customers like this and appreciate it – look at our Trustpilot scores – we have over 1,000 reviews and our customer service scores very highly.”
Comfort has always worked exclusively with Aviva. “You can’t approach Aviva to get our policy – they trust us to deliver this. It is always an Aviva product but we create the product and the rates.”
And this product includes elements such as motorhome-specific breakdown cover and unlimited windscreen cover.
With motorhomes now so valuable, they are a target for theft. But there is a lot you can do to protect your investment. “We say a tracker is a must-have now,” says Ben. “If you’re investing £70,000 in a new motorhome why would you think twice about having a tracker fitted?”
But trackers are just one aspect. “We also recommend physical and visible deterrents like steering wheel locks and clutch claws and also OBD port locks.”
An OBD lock is designed for a vehicle’s onboard diagnostic port. This is where garages plug into to get diagnostic information but thieves can also use it to start the engine without the key.
“Locking this off means they can’t access the OBD port and so can’t start the engine,” explains Ben. “It’s a simple thing and acts as another deterrent.”
Where you keep your motorhome is also an issue. “Decent storage is well worth investing in…what we always is advise is not to leave your motorhome on the road or in workplace sites. They stand out and are targets. We don’t cover those left on the road.”
Comfort Insurance – a family business with its roots in motorhoming
Comfort is a family business. “My father, my sister and I all work here and, between the senior management, we have over 200 years of insurance experience,” explains Ben.
The company, which is based in Essex, employs between 30 and 35 people – the variation is because of the seasonal demands of motorhome insurance.
“We have a lot of technology behind us and have been able to grow the business by 25% with the same staff,” says Ben. “It is the same backend technology that the likes of Tesco and Barclays Bank use.”
Competition is strong in the motorhome market with many companies offering policies. “Our USP is we offer the best level of cover at the best value. We have the best partners – Aviva and the AA – which means you have the largest breakdown operation across Europe. We also have DAS legal cover,” says Ben.
“We have the experts and the expertise.”
The company’s founder, Peter Cue, and his wife, Pat, are motorhomers and, back in 1979, realised that private car insurance was not suitable for motorhome owners.
So, Peter created a dedicated niche insurance policy that provided cover for the additional needs that go with motorhome ownership.
Comfort also understood that different types of motorhomes present different risks and so developed a unique vehicle rating file to cater for the variances.
The broker has always worked solely with Aviva and developed its Motoring Gold product for cars, which had a limited-mileage policy, into a variation for motorhomes.
This new service was a success and soon a full scheme – the Comfort Insurance – was launched.
Insurance Myths Busted
Ben clears up some of the confusion around motorhome and campervan insurance:
- Replacement windscreens need a manufacturer stamp – they don’t.
- Policies contain some elements you don’t need – there has got to be a customer need for everything on an insurance policy.
- Lying can get you a cheaper quote – insurance is a contract so be open and truthful from the start. You will get the right policy if you are truthful.
- Insurance companies ask pointless questions every time you request a quote – insurers have a set script and must follow it legally. They don’t ask questions just to be awkward.
- Undervaluing your motorhome will save you money – Comfort already knows the value of your motorhome.
- Security devices are not necessary – they work so use them, especially trackers, which are well worth the investment. Visual deterrents also work.
- Online aggregator sites will save you money – you should speak to specialist brokers and not rely on aggregator websites. Specialist insurers like Comfort ask all the right questions so they will know things like what devices you have fitted (reversing cameras, sensors, etc) so, when they quote, they quote correctly and the first quote will already be the best quote.
- Recording phone calls only benefits the insurance company – this technology protects the customer and the insurer. It means it knows it is doing its job properly and that its customers are protected.
- All insurance companies use the same repair workshops – not so. Comfort has its own network of approved repairers.