Things to consider when buying a new or second-hand caravan

Are you thinking about buying a caravan? If so, there are plenty of options tailored to your needs and tastes. From spacious static second homes to mobile tourers, purchasing a caravan brings many benefits and possible adventures. Whatever you decide, it’s an exciting purchase, but knowing the challenges and risks is essential.

Here at Intasure, we’ve helped customers with their caravan insurance for nearly 20 years. During this time, we’ve become specialists in knowing the ins and outs of caravan insurance, so let’s put our knowledge to good use. Below we’ll take you through things you may want to consider when buying a new or second-hand caravan. We’ll cover:

  • Types of caravans you can buy
  • New and used caravans
  • What to look for when buying a caravan
  • Where to buy caravans
  • When to buy caravans
  • Insuring your caravan

What type of caravan should you buy?

When buying a caravan there is a lot to consider, starting with whether you should go for a static caravan or a touring one, but what’s the difference?

What is a static caravan?

Static caravans are typically situated at caravan sites and aren’t towable. They usually provide more living space than touring caravans and come fitted with kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms and integrated appliances. These features can make them a great option if you have a family, pets, or simply want more space. You can also benefit from easy access to a caravan park’s amenities.

What is a touring caravan?

Touring caravans are mobile homes you can tow from your vehicle. Their portability is perfect if you like to keep your holiday options open, as you can travel to caravan sites across the continent. Touring caravans are compact and lighter than static homes. Although you may have less living space, this often makes touring caravans more affordable than static homes.

Should you buy a new or used caravan?

There are clearly benefits for both — but much of it may boil down to budget. Second-hand caravans are generally more affordable. They also depreciate slower than new models¹, meaning you might be able to sell it later down the line without much financial impact.

On the other hand, newer models often improve your caravan’s lifespan, so you may not need to upgrade as quickly. Brand-new caravans typically come with extended warranties, providing peace of mind if you discover a fault in the future. What’s more, newer caravans tend to have better features, such as heating, which could help reduce running costs.

What to look for when buying a caravan

Internal checks to consider

  • Perform a thorough inspection to check for signs of dampness.
  • Check whether the lights, doors, floors, and appliances are in working condition.
  • It’s also essential safety features like the smoke detector and fire extinguisher work, as well as gas components and water sources, such as the shower and sinks.

External checks to consider

  • Check if the chassis, axle, and electric components (like lights) are working correctly.
  • Ensure the handbrake is working, and if the jockey wheel winds down with ease.
  • See if the tow hitch moves freely and if the awning opens and closes.

Check the documentation

  • Before purchasing your new touring caravan, you should see if your driving license permits you to drive it.
  • View your licence online² to check what you can tow.

Service history

  • Checking the caravan’s service history will bring up any previous issues.

Licences and tow weigh

  • If you’re towing a caravan, it’s recommended it doesn’t weigh more than 85 percent of your car’s total. This is advised to minimise risk when towing, especially for novice caravan drivers.
  • You also can’t exceed a total weight of 3500kg if you passed your driving test on or after 1st January 1997³.
  • Your vehicle’s legal towing capacity should be in your car manual. You can also calculate it with your v5 registration document and VIN plate.

Theft check

  • You can perform an onlineCRiS check to verify the ownership and history of any potential caravans.
  • By checking the VIN CHIP security label (generally on the window), it should be clear if it’s been tampered with.

Where to buy a caravan

Independent parks

If you have a park in mind for your holiday, they may sell caravans on site. If not, it could be worth asking about their rules for bringing an off-site caravan into the park.

Official classifieds

Another way is to check sales websites which feature dedicated caravan selling sections. Whatever caravan you’re searching for, you’ll likely find something for your budget at one of these sites:

  • AutoTrader Caravans
  • Caravan Finder
  • Caravans for Sale

Private dealers

Private dealers may sell caravans in your local newspaper. There’s also a good chance you’ll also find what you’re looking for on the sites listed below (just proceed with caution):

  • eBay
  • Gumtree
  • Preloved
  • News Now

Dealerships

There are hundreds of caravan dealerships across the UK. Many dealers will have new and used caravans on display and can provide you with guidance. By visiting several dealerships, you’ll better understand the designs and layouts that suit your needs best.

Caravan shows

Many caravan shows allow you to purchase used or new caravans, but you’ll most likely need to be a member of a caravanning association such as the Camping and Caravanning Club or the Caravan and Motorhome Club.

When to buy a caravan

There are specific windows where you could get a better deal throughout the year. For instance, dealers tend to try and clear second-hand stocks from January to March before newer models arrive, meaning you could get a cheaper caravan.

You may find from March to May, second-hand models are generally more expensive as it can be a more popular time to buy. However, there are generally lots of traded-in caravans between May and December — and towards the year-end, dealers can be keen to sell second-hand models, leading to reduced prices.

How much does a caravan cost?

The price of a caravan is likely to fluctuate depending on the season. Below is a rough guide to the prices you could pay for new and used caravans⁶.

Type New Used
Bottom-end price High-end price Bottom-end price High-end price
Static £15,000 £100,000 £3,000 £80,000
Touring £10,000 £60,000 £1,000 £40,000

Insuring your caravan

Before you travel anywhere with a caravan, you may want to consider whether you’re adequately protected. While it’s not a legal requirement to have caravan insurance, overlooking it can be costly if something goes wrong.

Our caravan insurance packages provide different levels of cover for different situations. Policy limits and exclusions may apply, please see the policy wording for full terms and conditions.

What are the benefits of Intasure’s static home insurance policies?

  • Cover during unoccupied periods.
  • Cover for malicious damage or vandalism.
  • New for Old or Market Value cover available.
  • Optional accidental damage cover for family and tenants.
  • Public liability cover up to £2.5 million included as standard.
  • Protection for hot tubs.
  • Subsidence or landslip of the land that your mobile home stands on.

Find out more about static caravan insurance

What are the benefits of Intasure’s touring caravan insurance policies?

  • Loss of use – up to £250 per day following an insured incident.
  • Personal accident cover – up to £20,000.
  • Emergency removal cover – removing a disabled caravan following an insured loss.
  • Cover for your furniture and awnings if lost or stolen – up to £500.
  • Cover to get you, your car and your caravan home following a serious injury or illness – up to £1,000.
  • European cover – up to 180 days as standard, which you can increase to 270 days.
  • Cover for liability – up to £2.5 million

Find out more about touring caravan insurance

Why choose Intasure?

At Intasure, we help simplify caravan insurance by arranging policies suited to your circumstances. As you weigh up your caravan insurance, you’ll have our UK-based, English-speaking service team on hand to answer any of your queries.

Request a call back or Get a Quote.

The sole purpose of this article is to provide guidance on the issues covered. This article is not intended to give legal advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. We make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein or in the links which were live at the date of publication. You should not act upon (or should refrain from acting upon) information in this publication without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited trading as Intasure accepts no liability for any inaccuracy, omission or mistake in this publication, nor will we be responsible for any loss which may be suffered as a result of any person relying on the information contained herein.

  1. https://www.outandaboutlive.co.uk/caravans/articles/general/buying-new-v-used-caravan-pros-and-cons
  2. https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence
  3. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-rules-for-towing-a-trailer-or-caravan-with-a-car-from-autumn-2021
  4. https://www.cris.co.uk/
  5. https://www.safeguarduk.co.uk/customer-zone/everything-you-need-to-know-before-buying-a-caravan