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What to consider when buying a new or second-hand caravan
Are you thinking about buying a caravan? From spacious static second homes to mobile tourers, purchasing a caravan can bring 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 needs for nearly 20 years. We know the ins and outs of caravan insurance, so let’s put our knowledge to good use. In this guide, we’ll take you through what to look for when buying a new or second-hand caravan, including associated costs, risks, and where to start your search.
What type of caravan should you buy?
There’s a lot to consider when buying a caravan, starting with whether you should go for a static caravan or a touring one. So, what’s the difference?
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 or pets, or simply want more space. You can also benefit from easy access to a caravan park’s amenities.
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 benefits for both—but much of it comes down to budget. Second-hand caravans are generally more affordable. Like cars, a used caravan tends to depreciate slower than a new model, meaning you might be able to sell it later down the line without much financial impact.
That said, newer models can have a longer 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. Newer caravans can also have more advanced features, such as heating, which could help reduce running costs.
Where to buy a caravan
If you’re wondering how to buy a caravan, you have a few different options. Many parks sell new and second-hand caravans on-site, or you could search online for other dealerships.
If you have a park in mind for your holiday, they may sell caravans on-site. The main advantage is the caravan is already there and ready to move into, so you won’t need to transport it. If not, it could be worth asking about their rules for bringing an off-site caravan into the park.
Check sales websites featuring a dedicated caravan selling section. Whatever caravan you’re searching for, you might find something for your budget at one of these sites:
- AutoTrader Caravans
- Caravan Finder
- Caravans for Sale
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 following sites (but proceed with caution):
- AutoTrader Caravans
- News Now
There are hundreds of caravan dealerships across the UK. Many dealers have new and used caravans on display and can provide guidance. Consider visiting several dealerships, so you understand the designs and layouts that suit your needs.
Many caravan shows allow you to purchase new and used 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.
What to look for when buying a caravan
- Perform a thorough inspection to check for signs of dampness.
- Check whether the lights, doors, floors, and appliances are in working condition.
- Check that safety features like the smoke detector and fire extinguisher work, as well as gas components and water sources, such as the shower and sinks.
- 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.
- Check the wheels, windows, and roof for signs of damage.
- See if the tow hitch moves freely and if the awning opens and closes.
Check the documentation
- Ensure your driving license permits you to drive a caravan before purchasing it.
- View your licence online to check what you can tow.
- Check the caravan’s service history to identify any previous issues.
Theft and scamming checks
- Perform an online CRiS check to verify the ownership and history of any potential caravans.
- Check the VIN CHIP security label (generally on the window)—it should be clear if it’s been tampered with.
- Conduct a check on the seller to ensure they’re legitimate and be careful to avoid scammers. Although you may be able to negotiate a better deal through a private seller, the risk of being scammed is typically much higher. Consider using a larger, more reputable dealership if you’re unsure of a seller’s legitimacy.
Licences and tow weight
If you’re towing a caravan, it’s recommended it doesn’t weigh more than 85% of your car’s total weight. This is to minimise risk when towing, especially for novice caravan drivers. You also can’t exceed a total weight of 3,500kg if you passed your driving test on or after 1st January 1997.
Check your car manual to determine your vehicle’s legal towing capacity. Or you can calculate it with your v5 registration document and VIN plate.
When is the best time to buy a caravan?
Generally, you can get better deals in certain months of the year. Dealers often try to clear second-hand stocks from January to March before newer models arrive, so you may find a caravan at a reduced price.
You may find from March to May, second-hand models are more expensive as it can be a more popular time to buy ahead of the summer season. However, people often trade in caravans between May and December, so you could get a good deal on a second-hand model. Towards the year-end, dealers can also be keen to sell second-hand models, leading to reduced prices.
How much does a caravan cost?
Caravan prices can fluctuate depending on the season. Below we’ve included a rough guide to the prices you could pay for new and second-hand caravans.
Insuring your caravan
Before you travel anywhere with a caravan, you may want to consider whether you’re suitably 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.
Intasure’s Static Caravan Insurance
- 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
We also offer static caravan abroad insurance for people who own a mobile home or static caravan in France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, or Spain.
Find out more about our Static Caravan Insurance.
Intasure’s Touring Caravan Insurance
- Loss of use – up to £250 per day following an insured incident
- 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 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. Get a Caravan Insurance quote or contact our UK team on 0345 111 0680 for more information.
Do you need a solicitor to buy a static caravan?
No, there’s no need to seek a solicitor to buy or sell a static caravan. You can handle all contracts, fees, and legal obligations yourself. However, you can appoint a solicitor if you’d prefer, or if you want additional advice.
How do I know which caravan to choose?
First, make sure you have an overall budget so you know how much you can or are willing to spend. Be sure to compare a few caravans to get an idea of which makes and models you prefer. Also, think about what you need the caravan for—if you plan on traveling to different countries, a touring caravan will probably suit better than a static caravan at a holiday park.
In addition, consider factors such as size, layout, location (particularly for static caravans), and features. If you’re buying a second-hand caravan, repairs or renovations may also be important.
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.