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Here's what you should know before hitching your caravan this festive season

2016-12-19 12:56

KNOW THE LAW: Your insurer could deny your claim if it's discovered you have illegally towed a trailer/caravan. Make sure you understand towing regulations. Image: iStock

Cape Town - There’s nothing like hitching up the caravan, stocking up on the “padkos” and heading for the hills for that well-earned family holiday. But, are you sure you've ticked all the right boxes before you set off on your camper trip?

Marius Neethling, underwriting manager at Santam provides some useful advice when it comes to cover for your caravan and its contents:

1 Insurance - Ensure your vehicle, caravan and its contents are adequately insured before hitting the road.

A caravan forms part of the definition of a vehicle and falls under the vehicle section of your insurance policy - and should include all standard tools, accessories, spare parts or other extra accessories that are fitted to your ‘home away from home”.

READ: Own a caravan or trailer? You might be towing illegally in SA 

What is important to check is that your caravan is insured at the correct market value. The market value is determined by the reasonable cost to replace your caravan should it be written off in an accident or stolen/hijacked. Neethling says it's important to check the sum insured as this is dependent on the age, condition and market related value of your caravan – and not the original purchase price.  

“It is also always advisable to make sure that you know the market value of you caravan or motor home each time you renew your insurance policy. As with motor vehicles, caravans also depreciate in value over time so it is important to be sure that you are not under insured,” says Neethling.

2 Content cover? When it comes to the contents of my caravan (or camping trailer), what am I covered for?

In the event of an accident, the contents of your caravan - including side tent are covered up to the amount that has been stipulated in your policy. However, there are certain conditions or exclusions - and these should be carefully noted:

You will not be able to claim for incidental damages to glass, glassware or other brittle articles due to cracking, scratching or breakage, unless this was as a result of your caravan being involved in an accident. 

Under contents of caravans or trailers, any loss or damage to fixtures or fittings, tools or goods that may be related to a business, trade or occupation will not be covered. 

3 Execess: Should my caravan or camping trailer be involved in an accident or damaged whilst on holiday, will I have to pay any excess?

Neethling says that the excess amount is the agreed amount of money you pay the insurer as a contribution towards repairs to a motor vehicle in the event of an accident or loss. The same will apply to a caravan or camping trailer - as well as any excess that may be liable in terms of the contents of your caravan or trailer.  

4 Motor home cover: Are motor homes and tented vehicles also covered under insurance?

Yes, but should you have any particular questions or concerns in this regard, Nettling recommends that customers check with their insurance company or broker. Insurers will require the purchase details and invoices for any accessories such as roof top tents when such insurance is applied for. 

"Comprehensive insurance includes benefits such as emergency repairs, winching equipment, repatriation costs, cross-border cover, head, tail or spotlights, loss of keys, tow-in costs and safeguarding after mechanical breakdown."

READ: Tow like a pro - all the top tips

5 Border crossings: We are planning to travel across the border with our caravan; will our insurance policy still be valid? 

Yes, currently you will be covered should you plan to visit Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique. For an additional premium, these countries can be extended to include Angola, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

"Santam insures more than 30 000 caravans in South Africa", says Neethling. "The festive season is a busy time with many families on the move. The most important advice we can give to those planning to make the trek to their vacation destination is to be safe and exercise caution when travelling either inside or outside of the country.” 

Caravan tips

  • Ensure your motor vehicle and caravan is correctly serviced and maintained – and is in a roadworthy condition before leaving home

  • Take the necessary precautions to ensure that your towing equipment, lights and indicators are in proper working order and that both your vehicle and caravan tyres are inflated to the recommended pressure at all times during the duration of your journey – to and from your destination

  • Whilst on the road, obey all traffic regulations, ensure your lights are switched on, that you maintain a safe travelling distance and never exceed the speed limit

  • Take regular breaks and stop at least every 2 hours at designated points whilst on the road in order to avoid fatigue

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