#VanLife: Blog #003 Insurance Difficulties

June 26, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

We've been away for the weekend recently, at our niece's wedding in the lovely Greyabbey, but we couldn't help but reminisce about the last time we were all there a few years ago in our motorhome. We stayed not too far away from the wedding location, and I even managed to make a quick video of our time whilst we were there:

Having made the decision to buy the IVECO, we're now starting to sort it out for our own needs. My wife and I have very different reasons why we bought the van. My wife is looking forward to just getting away with me and the dogs, whereas I'm looking forward to building out the interior specific to our (my) needs (AND spending time with the wife and dogs)!

We've had the vehicle for just over a week now, and there have been some issues, namely getting it insured. The previous owner was with the local National Farmer's Union, but because he had so many different business related insurances with them, they could give him a great rate, me? Not so much. It wasn't too bad, but I could save £200 by going with the main motorhome insurance provider here in Northern Ireland, and that was through Dublin based broker Dolmen. I've had my previous motorhome insurance with them and thought it would be an easy process going back to them, but oh no! 'Fecking Nightmare' springs to mind!

The IVECO has been classed as a camper since 2007, it's been MOT'd as a camper, insured as a camper (even with Dolmen) but all of a sudden they want proof, and they even questioned the proof when received.

Here's the list of things they wanted:

  • Proof of my having insurance with another vehicle
  • A copy of my license
  • Interior Images:
    • Images of the gas fittings
    • Images of a cooker
    • Images of a sink
  • MOT Certificate
  • Utility Bill

Now, because it doesn't have a 'cooker' as defined by them (something with a worktop style gas / electric ring) they weren't going to classify it as a camper. The DVLA here in the UK state the following:

Motor caravan minimum features

In order for a converted vehicle to qualify as a motor caravan it must have certain minimum features:

  • a door that provides access to the living accommodation
  • a bed, which has a minimum length of 1800mm or 6 feet - this can be converted from seats used for other purposes during the day but must be permanently fixed within the body of the vehicle
  • a water storage tank or container on, or in, the vehicle
  • a seating and dining area, permanently attached to the vehicle - the table may be detachable but must have some permanent means of attachment to the vehicle. It is not good enough to have a loose table
  • a permanently fixed means of storage, a cupboard, locker or wardrobe
  • a permanently fixed cooking facility within the vehicle, powered by gas or electricity
  • at least one window on the side of the accommodation

If the vehicle has all of these features present, permanently fixed and installed properly, then it is a legal requirement to have it reclassified as a motor caravan on the V5C.

Our van has a microwave oven, this is a cooking facility in my eyes, not conventional I grant you, but still, it can heat stuff up. Having argued my case with them, they then came back with another stipulation, that I should get a new MOT. My current MOT doesn't run out for another 3 months, but hey, where's the harm getting that done? Just another hoop to jump through I guess.

My usual mechanic can't work on this bad boy, he just doesn't have the facilities to squeeze in a 2.6m high wagon through his doors, nor can he lift it with his current jacks as it's a 3.5t beast. Thankfully I have a local company; Greysteel Commercial Repairs who are less than a mile away from my door, who work specifically on trucks and lorries, so that's me sorted, as there are a number of faults that need looking at:

  • Rear Brakes imbalanced requirements only just met. It would appear that the braking system requires adjustment or repair. (3.7.B.5b)
  • battery loose (not sure on this one! I think it's solid)
  • Offside Front marker light not working (I fixed this yesterday)
  • Offside Rear marker light not working (working intermittently, wiring fault)
  • Nearside Front marker light not working (wiring fault, pain in the ass)
  • Nearside Inner Body has slight corrosion sill (6.1.B.2) (yeah, this is pretty bad, gonna need some welding)
  • Vehicle structure has slight corrosion (6.1.A.1) (agreed)

The engine bay was covered in dirt, so that's all been cleaned up yesterday. The rear step and tow bar needed a new lick of paint, again, got this done yesterday. I thought I'd tackle the underside of the van too but managed to get rust in my eye. Safety people! I did go in and find my goggles, but by the time I came back out it had started to rain, so that's for another day.

Other things I found were that the horn wasn't working, it just needed a fuse, so that's off the list. Plenty of grime was also removed from the front cab area and there's a circular hole in the floor that will also have to be sealed up, so might as well get it all done in one go.

The handbrake needs attention too, cause it only works when fully engaged. I was also getting coolant level warnings when I took it out for a long drive on Saturday. I topped that up when I was cleaning the engine, and painting some of the rust spots. The other niggle is that the fuel gauge is a little on the vague side, not quite sure what it's playing at, but I was warned about it (and promptly forgot) when we picked it up from Steve, the previous owner. Having sat and done the math, I've worked out that the 3ltr 16v engine does roughly 21mpg... Eeek..!

It's with the new mechanic tomorrow, so I'll update you with how that went when I know more.



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