Sales of campervans have boomed in the UK over the summer with the uncertainty surrounding foreign travel prompting many Brits to take their holiday closer to home.
Motorhome dealers, classified advertising websites and manufacturers have all reported increased interest, according to Car Dealer magazine, as holidaymakers try to make the best of a tough situation amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Coinciding with the news that the government was to allow camping sites to reopen in July, one dealer reported selling a month’s worth of stock in a week.
This was a trend seen throughout the industry, with AutoTrader reporting that caravan, campervan and motorhome advert views were up almost 20%.
Meanwhile, auctions that sell to the trade reported sales above predicted prices.
Peter Vaughan, editor of Which Motorhome Magazine, suggested the rise in demand was “a combination of people not wanting to holiday abroad, get on a plane or a cruise and looking for a safe and enjoyable holiday at home.”
The ‘entry-level’ range of campervans – the sub £25,000 sector – was expected to see the biggest price increase, due to the number of new people entering the market, with vehicles around this price point being “snapped up”, used motorhome dealer Bill Hayes told Car Dealer.
With more people buying campervans, naturally this has meant increased numbers needing to protect their investment with campervan insurance.
At Motorhome Protect, we’ve seen a rise in enquiries for campervan insurance cover – a trend that could sustain well into 2021 as more people experience the joys of being out on the road.
Buyers happy to purchase a campervan online
The surge in demand for campervans may, in part, be driven by online buyers, with people increasingly comfortable to purchase a vehicle from the comfort of their own home.
A survey from carwow reveals that more than half (54%) of recent car buyers in the UK have said they will do the majority of their car buying online from now on.
Good news for dealers who have all had to close their showrooms to customers at some point during the pandemic.
Almost half (43%) of carwow’s survey respondents said they have already purchased a new vehicle without ever visiting a showroom (compared to 23% in Germany and 13% in Spain), while 36% of all UK buyers said they valued changes made by the dealers to accommodate remote buying.
One in three UK buyers took advantage of a virtual video tour of the vehicle they were looking to buy – but, clearly you can’t digitise a test drive; at least not yet.
Carrying out a test drive was the principle reason why carwow buyers in each of the three countries visited a showroom since dealers reopened their doors.
Meanwhile, one in four customers in the UK said they were not offered an end-to-end digital purchase, suggesting that not all dealers are yet set up to allow buyers to complete the process online.
Commenting on the survey results, carwow CEO, James Hind said consumer appetite for online buying has been “sharpened by the pandemic”, with the option to see a vehicle in person unavailable to them.
Hind anticipates that this is a trend that will continue even beyond the pandemic to become the “new norm”.
It’s unlikely to stay confined to cars either with campervan buyers expected to be increasingly given the option to make a digital purchase.
However, Hinds stressed that online purchases need to be “supported by a wider range of remote support services” such as virtual vehicle tours and from-home test drives.
In fact, many motorhome, campervan and caravan dealerships have already adapted their buying process, offering virtual showroom and vehicle tours, remote purchase options and COVID-secure vehicle handovers.
Buying a campervan online
If you’re prepared to buy a campervan online – either during the pandemic or once it has ended – there are a number of things you should consider before going through with your purchase.
Don’t jeopardise the money-back guarantee
Online buyers are comforted by the safety net that is the 14-day money-back guarantee that applies to distance selling.
If you decide that the campervan you viewed online isn’t for you once it turns up ‘in the flesh’, you can send it back and have your money back, without having to provide a specific reason.
Two weeks is a good amount of time to give the campervan a thorough going over: checking that the features are as you expected and that it’s big enough to accommodate you and your family.
However, you need to ensure that you stay within the Consumer Contracts Regulations (2013), which is the law that allows you to drive a reasonable distance within this time period to try out a campervan, and still receive a refund if you decide to send it back.
It’s crucial that you remember that fair use policies apply and if you go beyond a “reasonable distance” then the option to return the campervan might be voided.
So, before making a purchase, check the dealer’s cancellation and returns policy which should set out the distance you must stay within to retain the money-back guarantee.
Do your research
It goes without saying that you want to avoid having to send a campervan back to the dealer if you can.
Although dealers will have to uphold their fair use policies, they could still make it awkward for you to return the vehicle as ultimately, it’s an inconvenience – not to mention a loss of a sale – for them.
So, you should ensure that you do your research in advance of going through with a purchase. Check all the photos, look at reviews, consult forums for advice and call the dealer to speak to a salesman if you have any questions that can’t be answered online.
Many dealers, and even private sellers, are willing to do live videos of the vehicle so you can see the condition up close. If the seller offers to do this, ask the video to highlight the following things, as Quirky Campers suggests:
Bodywork - Ask them to point out any rust, repairs, dents or damage to the paintwork. If they can put the van on a ramp and show you the underside, too, that’s even better.
Engine - You’ll want to see the engine being started from cold, and watch out for the vehicle exhaust if it’s an older camper, too.
Interior - Ask to see the interior of the camper, so you can check for ripped seats, worn-out seat belts and the like. Ask them to turn on the radio, too, to make sure it’s working properly.
Also ask the seller to show you how to fold out the beds or raise the roof if it’s a pop-up style so you can see it’s all functioning as it should.
Appliances - If there are appliances in the camper, ask the seller to demonstrate these and check when they were last serviced.
Compare finance quotes
One of the advantages of buying a campervan online is that you can take your time to make your decision.
You have plenty of opportunity to look at prices for a variety of different models and compare finance quotes before deciding to go through with a purchase.
If the finances don’t stack up, at the very least defer your decision. It might be worth speaking to the dealer to see if they have any suggestions on how you can make it happen through one of their finance providers.
Or they might steer you in the direction of a slightly cheaper model which has all of the key features that you want from a campervan.
Insist on delivery
Getting your new campervan delivered to your door is the cheapest and best way to have it delivered. The alternative is to have somebody drive you to the dealership or seller or having to get on public transport and then driving the campervan back home.
Some dealers will go out of their way to ensure you get your campervan how and when you want it – they’ll allow you to choose the time and day of your delivery, with a courtesy call from your delivery driver when they are on their way to ensure you’ll be home to take collection of your campervan.
There might also be an option to have the campervan brought to you on a transporter, but this is usually more expensive.
Bear in mind that if you’re purchasing a campervan via finance, it will probably need to be delivered to the home address on the paperwork.
If you’re a cash buyer you can ask to have the campervan delivered elsewhere – at work, for example.
If you’re offering any vehicle as a part exchange, that can also be picked up from your home address, and when possible, at the same time as your new campervan is delivered.
You can also find your own third-party delivery service on Shiply.com or do a simple Google search for delivery services in the local area.
Remind yourself of the government’s social distancing guidelines and make sure any delivery drivers stick to them.
Once your new camper is home, you may be tempted to take it straight out for a drive, but remember to get campervan insurance in place before you do.
Be aware of scams
The Coronavirus pandemic has opened more people’s eyes to the benefits of owning a campervan – that’s not gone unnoticed with the fraudsters who sense an opportunity.
The Guardian reports that criminals are flooding online auction sites with thousands of fake listings for campervans and motorhomes, targeting people who are prepared to give their money over for a vehicle they have not seen.
The Guardian spoke to one buyer who said he had lost £5,000 to “a highly sophisticated fraud”, with the fraudster claiming to be selling the vehicle on behalf of his father in Ireland.
The man was told that due to lockdown restrictions, the vehicle would be delivered by a transport company.
The seller reassured him that if he paid using PayPal’s ‘pay after delivery’ service, he would have the grace of five days to look over the vehicle before the money was released.
The scam involved the fraudster posing as a PayPal representative, who gave the victim a reference and a bank account number to transfer funds upon which he was told the vehicle would be delivered. Unfortunately, the delivery never happened and the money was lost.
“Sadly there has also been a big jump in reports from victims saying they have lost money to the scammers. They are coming into our offices every few hours at the moment,” said the Guardian’s investigator.
“Normally they find a hundred reasons why you can’t come and see the vehicle but they don’t have to right now, for obvious reasons.”
He advised buyers to watch out for low-priced vehicles. The old adage applies here – if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
An eBay spokeswoman said the company invests heavily in dedicated fraud prevention teams – but clearly not all scams are being stopped at source.
So, stay alert and think twice before sending money digitally.
How can I protect my vehicle with campervan insurance?
Whether you own a motorhome or campervan, the vehicle you drive is a significant investment in both time and money, so never take them out on the road without the proper protection.
Whatever precautions you and others take to reduce the risk from COVID-19, it’s impossible to rule out everything.
Whether driving on busy motorways or quiet country roads, your treasured vehicle can be prone to road traffic accidents and damage.
Working with our panel of leading campervan insurers, Motorhome Protect will find you insurance for a campervan, appropriate to your vehicle, needs and budget.
Our bespoke cover is arranged by our dedicated team of specialists and can include benefits such as:
- Cover for up to 365 days a year including foreign use
- Cover for vehicles valued up to £150,000
- Enhanced cover for personal effects up to £3,000
- Uncapped mileage cover
- Unlimited EU cover
- Quotes available for customers with claims and convictions
Call Motorhome Protect and get a quote for campervan insurance today.
Policy benefits and features offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.