Motorhome pickup

Today we picked up our motorhome from Elite Motorhomes in Banbury. We arrived in a hire car bursting at the seams with bedding, food, clothes,  and other paraphenalia. Mike, who sold us the motorhome, completed the handover, and fixed two very minor faults immediately. Being motorhome newbies there was an enormous amount to take in, even though the handover took 3.5 hours. For me being a yacht sailor, I was already used to a lot of the way the systems worked, however, we ended up with an enormous crate of paperwork!  Reading through it later we found we had no “manual” for the motorhome as a homogenous unit, only diverse manuals for the motor / chassis – Fiat, and the various fitted items like the fridge, alarm, etc. There is however no manual which tells you how you empty grey water, for instance – is this normal?

When we left the Elite I drove “the bus” and Lisa drove ahead of me in the hire car heading for the camp site some 7 miles away, unfortunately Lisa was tired and she turn off at the wrong exit on the first roundabout – and I followed – as this was my first serious drive in the tank, I decided to wait for a roundabout to do a U-turn. This entailed an 8 mile diversion, but eventually we got to the campsite and the liner was baptised with rain showers, before the sun came out.

Archie settled down in the bus as if he was made for it, already making it his home. Being so small he does have trouble getting in and out, something we will have to address.

Now we are all very tired and about to retire to our island bed for the very first night……

Goodnight!

More insurance

Perhaps the most convoluted additions to obtain apart from the van, has been insurance.  When full timing you will find there is no one insurance policy which covers EVERYTHING! Sure Comfort and others provide insurance for full-timers, but beware if you have bikes, or perhaps mobile phones, or a lap-top – these don’t get covered.

Now if you are keeping your primary residence with your contents insurance while you travel, you’ll undoubtedly be able to use this, however for us this is not an option as we have rented out our house.  So we are left looking for ways and means to cover our other chattels.

Bike Insurance

After looking around I tried TSB as they have a Pick and Protect approach where you buy insurance for the things you need to protect, like gadgets, bikes, contents, etc. On first inspection their bike insurance looked perfect, so I decided to give them a call. A very pleasant Scottish young man called Jerry took my call and I described what we planned to do with our motorhome – he became very excited and asked me if we planned to go to Scotland and do the N500?  I said we did, he then recommended visiting Glencoe and Loch Etive – something we have now added to our list….thank you!

Now don’t get me wrong, this was all useful stuff, but was I going to be able to get insurance? He took all the details and we discussed our plan and that the bikes would either be locked in the motorhome garage or locked to a bike rack on the back. Fortunately they treat the motorhome as an “immovable object”, so this was ok! But with insurance there are always wrinkles, if somebody steals the motorhome with bikes attached they are no longer covered as it obviously was not so immovable after all.

They also don’t cover “bikes with motors” – ebikes to you me, which is a bit of a challenge since Lisa is planning on getting an ebike (hopefully a review of this in the future). By now we had struck up a good banter and it seems that ebikes can be added as a “special” – except there is no coverage for Northern Ireland (more on this later). Next we needed some more details – address – sure, so we are using Lisa’s daughter’s address as our postal address, which is fine, but of course we are going to be travelling with the bikes 365 days/year, at this point there was some consternation in the TSB call-centre – would the underwriter (Aviva) be happy with this or not. Jerry put me on hold to find out. A few minutes later he came back, I was expecting that we would not get cover – but at least we had a nice chat about Scotland. However to my surprise they were ok covering us and we proceeded to the amount of cover. My bike is only worth £600, so their closest cover is £750 and I elected a £75 excess. Since Lisa does not yet have her ebike we could not add it to the policy, but once we have it we can call up and they will add it to the policy.

The upshot of this is that we do have bike insurance now to cover us full-timing around Europe (but not Northern Ireland – if you want to find out why not read this). The insurance quote was £28 for the year for my bike, this will probably triple when we add Lisa’s bike. But I have to say that TSB were very helpful and I would not hesitate to recommend them.

Gadgets

We have opened a joint Nationwide FlexPlus account, this costs £13 a month (£156/year if you are not good with numbers!) and for this, you get a range of useful benefits – for us the travel insurance, breakdown and mobile cover are brilliant. The breakdown cover will cover motorhomes up to 8m in length, which is great because ours is just under at 7.5m.

We need to think about whether we want to insure any other items, such as the bins, at some point for older items insurance no longer pays.

Dead as an Audi

Only three sleeps to go before we pick up our motorhome, still the past week has been busy and slightly fraught with some last minute trials and tribulations. As we are planning to full-time we won’t be needing a car for the immediate future so our plan was to sell or give away our Audi A3 to family, it had done 102,000 miles, but otherwise was in reasonable shape. Unfortunately  last week when we came to start it in the morning we heard a bone-crunching sound from the engine and it would not start.

After getting recovered to North Dunston Garage (NDG) in Northampton they started their diagnosis. It did not look good from the outset, so after a couple of days I was not surprised to hear back from Richard at NDG that the timing chain had slipped and the valves had made contact with the cylinders, which would require a full head re-build. There appears to be no rational reason for this to have occurred other than “bad luck” and to fix would cost somewhere in the region of £2,500 – £3,000, this is about the value of the car, so it was with regret that we decided that it will have to be scrapped.

Insuring the van

Today we outlaid £1,236 to Comfort Insurance for one year of insurance of our motorhome. This was after much ringing around for quotes, whilst this may seem like a lot we are full-timing in our motorhome! After the first few attempts to get quotes on the phone we quickly learned to ask if they would cover full-timers, there is no point giving them all the details only to find that they won’t offer a quote for full-timers.

We also had to ensure we had a Thatcham Cat 1 alarm and a Cat 5 tracker. Both good things to have but obviously additional expense. Worthy of note is that the insurance covers personal belongings, but this does not include computers, mobiles, cameras, jewellery, bikes and so on. So this will need separate cover, which ew have yet to arrange.

During our investigations we learned;

  • Not many companies provide insurance for full-timers
  • Insurance for full-timers is expensive
  • You need to get as much “glass” cover as possible for an A-Class motorhome
  • If you have an expensive vehicle your insurance company will insist on a Category 5 tracker
  • It does not cover everything

Not long to go now

Archie and I took a long walk beside the Gand Union canal near Glen Parva on the  hottest late August Bank Holiday in living memory. Luckily we were well shaded on the southern bank and we saw lots of people on our travels. Lisa could not come as she was visiting her mother and beside which she is still struggling with the broken foot which I inconsiderately gave her a few weeks back. As you can see Archie’s coat is the perfect camouflage in any weather.