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Full time travellers face insurance gaps in Australia

September 28, 2006

Finding adequate insurance cover is a challenge for Australians who make their motorhome, caravan or Recreational Vehicle their permanent home.

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GoSeeAustralia has found some insurance companies do not want to cover full time travellers and those who will, often cannot provide complete cover.

GoSeeAustralia asked for comment from the insurance industry regarding concerns which relate to providing insurance cover for the increasing number of caravanners and Recreational Vehicle owners who have no fixed address as many more Australians take to life on the road with no fixed abode.

GoSeeAustralia found there are pitfalls. In a worse case scenario full time travellers who accidentally injure someone or damage their property could be sued.

If they do not have personal liability indemnity and are held and found to be liable to an action from a third party, they may well be financially ruined for life. Unfortunately many full time travellers who sell or rent their home to travel Australia indefinitely may not be aware they are exposed.

GoSeeAustralia found that where a home is sold or rented out with the contents in storage the full time traveller does not have any personal liability cover. There are some companies with an insurance product specifically tailored for those on the road with no fixed abode.

Shepparton based Caravanners Complete Insurance provides personal liability cover regardless of whether the potential client still owns their home, has sold their home or rented their home.

Darryl and Sharrons motorhome rig Port Campbell Caravan Park  April 2005
Darryl and Sharron's motorhome rig Port Campbell Caravan Park April 2005

Caravanners Complete Insurance can also cover all personal belongings while travelling and they dont have to be in the Recreational Vehicle if they are stolen or damaged. The company gives Australia wide cover for belongings as well as personal liability.

For those who still live at home and travel only occasionally Caravanners Complete Insurance offers a package which includes a unoccupancy clause on the insured house of up to six months, (most companies offer 60 days).

There is also a total package where motor vehicle, caravan, house, contents and boat can be all covered under the one policy and the insured is covered no matter where they are in Australia.

Fifth-wheeler at home in a SA park with big drive-through sites
Fifth-wheeler at home in a SA park with big drive-through sites

Geoff OSullivan of Caravanners Complete Insurance told GoSeeAustralia that often clients did not understand the full implications and potential exclusions in their insurance policies.

I think the best thing for people who are on the road and still own their home is to extend household cover on an Australia wide basis, he said.

The full implications of personal liability for people who do not have a fixed address is something we find is often not understood by the full-time traveller.

If their home has been sold their personal liability cover which is linked to their household insurance is gone. They may not realise this, he said.

We have extensive experience with the insurance needs of people in caravans and this has led us to create a policy which meets their unique needs while they are on the road, Geoff OSullivan said.

Insurance is essential when things go badly wrong
Insurance is essential when things go badly wrong

He said while the policy might cost the full time traveller more it included the potential theft of valuable items like laptops and addressed the needs of people on the road with no fixed abode.

This extended to towing advice and assistance with situations which can develop through illness. An example would be the case of a wife with little or no towing experience being given personal assistance and advice if her husband became ill.

It might mean bringing out a family member to take over the towing role, I have been developing this scheme since 1996, Geoff OSullivan said.

Caravan Insurance Specialists arrange and manage insurance for people who have sold their home to live on the road and their caravan/motorhome is their travelling home.

Principal Stan Bishop says Recreational Vehicle owners who plan an extensive tour of Australia after selling their residence and making their caravan, motorhome orfifth-wheeler their home need to give special consideration to the value of all their personal belongings and contents which are in the travelling home.

$1000 cover is totally inadequate where there may be personal belonging and contents to the value of $15,000-$20,000 on board, he told GoSeeAustralia.

If you have sold your home you no longer have cover for personal liability where you cause personal injury or damage to property of others anywhere in Australia. This is normally included in a house/contents insurance policy. The policy we arrange includes personal liability indemnity where you do not own a home as well as other major benefits and cover, not provided by other Australian Insurers , he said.

Many young couples who do not own a home are also traveling around Australia without Personal Liability Indemnity protection.

Stan Bishop has been involved in the insurance industry in Western Australia in for over 35 years as an insurance broker, insurance assessor, insurance broker principal/owner and now as an insurance adviser and authorised representative of the leading and major specialist Australian caravan insurer.

Caravan Insurance Specialists was formed in 1999 to provide personal service as an insurance adviser specialising in arranging and managing insurance on touring caravans, camper trailers, on-site caravans, motorhomes, campervans and 5th wheelers Australia wide.

Caravan and tow vehicle after roll over
Caravan and tow vehicle after roll over
Kitchen layout by Windsor  pic courtesy Windsor
Kitchen layout by Windsor pic courtesy Windsor

Stan Bishop told GoSeeAustralia the majority of caravan policies available are simply standard policies issued by general insurers who also underwrite other domestic covers.

Being standard in cover they do not take into account the various unforeseen costs which can arise when a caravan is damaged, particularly whilst on tour, Stan said.

Stan arranges cover for all his clients through an insurer dedicated to only insuring caravans, camper trailers, motor homes, campervans, fifth wheelers, slide on units and on site caravans. The insurer is a leader in the industry since 1964 and understands the needs of caravanners.

The Possums  Sharron  and Darryl  with their Winnebago on route to Horsham for the CMCAs National Rally  GoSeeAustralia pic
The Possums Sharron and Darryl with their Winnebago on route to Horsham for the CMCA's National Rally GoSeeAustralia pic

Their policy includes the following important costs:

  • The cost of towing the caravan to the most appropriate repairer, not necessarily the closest.
  • Temporary accommodation costs incurred whilst the caravan is undergoing repairs, and most importantly, the cost of returning the caravan to the owners residence if whilst on tour the owner becomes ill or suffers a personal injury. If the insured has no residence the insurer pays the cost of returning the caravan to the relevant state and place of choice.
  • Where the towing vehicle is involved in an accident and cannot be used to continue touring, the policy pays the cost of returning the caravan tothe ownersresidence, even when the caravan is not attached to the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Stan Bishop told GoSeeAustralia that the majority of these additional substantial costs are not covered by alternative Australian caravan insurers. He said he provides personal service in handling and managing his clients claims anywhere in Australia.

Bruce Illingworth, National Manager CIL Insurances Vero on the subject of No Fixed Address told GoSeeAustralia they offer insurance to anyone providing they have a postal address that renewals can be sent to. This can be through a PO Box, or a relative. There are also Mail Forwarding agencies, one of which advertises on the GoSeeAustralia website.

Insurance Broker Roy Marshall of Grampians Insurance Brokers, Ararat, Victoria told GoSeeAustralia that - the best advice he can give to anyone travelling (who still owns their home) is to upgrade their householders Contents Policy to include cover on their contents anywhere in Australia.

It is sometimes called Blue Ribbon Cover, Premium Cover. This generally costs about $100 extra for the stuff you take away with you, he said.

Editor's Note also see:

Sundowners  Ken and Maureen Hay and friends  Cable Beach Broome
Sundowners Ken and Maureen Hay and friends Cable Beach Broome
There is  nothing quite like a good  safe  campfire  GoSeeAustralia pic Powlett River.
There is nothing quite like a good safe campfire GoSeeAustralia pic Powlett River.
GoSeeAustralias home away from home Lake Hume
GoSeeAustralia's home away from home Lake Hume
Home comforts 2005 Heritage  GoSeeAustralia pic
Home comforts 2005 Heritage GoSeeAustralia pic

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