24/11/2011
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Re-registering a motorcaravan

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Rachel Stothert further explores why registering your van as a motorcaravan with the DVLA is so important. This feature was originally published in the October 2011 issue of MMM.

Just a few months ago, I wrote about why you might want to check your V5 log book and make sure your body type is changed from private light goods or private heavy goods to a motorcaravan (Summer issue 2011, click here to read the feature online).

Since then we’ve had a flood of DIYers and smaller manufacturers writing in to suggest that all is not as easy as initially suggested.

DOES MY VAN COMPLY?

We initially said that if your vehicle conformed to certain standards on the inside, then it would be eligible to be re-classified as a motorcaravan. It seems that this is no longer the case.

Further correspondance from the DVLA now suggests that the body type should reflect the outward appearance of a vehicle rather than its fixtures and fittings. This infers that only coachbuilt motorhome conversions would be reclassified as a motorcaravan from now on in.

However there is a caveat that the DVLA will approach these on a case-by-case basis. It’s worth noting that this ruling does not affect vehicles that are registered as a motorcaravan from the outset. Check that, if you are buying new, the vehicle is initially registered as a motorcaravan by the supplying dealer, whether it’s a van conversion or a coachbuilt.

YOU'RE NOT ALONE

It’s not just regular DIYers who are experiencing problems. We were contacted by Mill Garage Coachworks in Scotland, who has had a few customers reporting problems.

Owner Jimmy Horne has concerns that insurance companies may not insure vehicles properly, and hence not pay out fully in the event of an accident.

The DVLA commented: “We are aware that some motorists have complained that insurance premiums can be higher if the body type for converted vehicles does not show motorcaravan. However, the ABI have advised that insurance premiums would normally be calculated based on the information provided by the customer. They further advised that customers should make their insurers aware of any modifications made to the vehicle and this would be taken into account when the premium is calculated.”

So, as some readers have advised, will there be a problem insuring DIY and bespoke conversions? It is entirely possible.

INSURERS

Craig Thompson from Caravan Guard says: “We don’t check vehicle registration documents. We have a list of approved and non-approved motorhome converters. Providing the motorhome’s converter is on the acceptance list we would certainly accept the motorhome on cover (subject to standard underwriting criteria). We don’t insure self builds.”

Peter Cue from Comfort Insurance, adds: “If you can’t re-register your conversion as a motorcaravan ensure your insurers are fully aware of the fact that it is a motorhome registered as a van with side windows and be aware of the road traffic requirements for that vehicle – especially when it comes to speed limits. Make sure your insurer confirms this in writing.”

We’ve got an insurance survey in the pipeline and will be able to offer more specific advice on this topic soon. Mill Garage issues all of its customers with a certificate of build, a valuation of their new motorhome and a gas certificate.

Jimmy from Mill Garage has this essential advice:
• Take pictures of everything and make sure some of your pictures contain the number plate in the shot
• Submit your application and any subsequent one by recorded/registered post, and keep hold of the tracking number
• Be persistent. If the original application is refused, try and try again
• Insure for the full value of your motorhome



Click here to download the full feature, as it was published in the October 2011 issue of MMM.
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