Research has found nearly one in ten United Kingdom based motorhome owners are putting themselves and their passengers at risk by delaying essential maintenance. The study also found 7% of those surveyed were neglecting to have crucial repair work carried out on their mobile homes due to money worries.
Motorhome insurance policy holders have faced increasing financial pressures in the last few years due to the continued economic instability along with increasing petrol prices that have quite quickly risen towards record levels. The current price of fuel is one of the top worries for motorhome owners as they cannot continue to explore the UK without first filling up.
However, what will worry them even more is that the research also found that an average driver will waste 10 gallons of fuel each year sitting in traffic. It is probably fair to assume this figure will be much higher for mobile home owners who are on the roads much more.
Paul McClenaghan, commercial director of the research team, has warned of the dangers of ignoring maintenance, saying “By choosing to ignore obvious faults or manufacturers’ advice, drivers are only delaying the inevitable and likely to increase the eventual cost when something fails – as well as potentially putting both themselves and other road users at risk.”
The research also found 14% do not replace their tyres until they are in or approaching dangerous levels of tread and just over a quarter (26%) do not replace the brake pads as quickly as they should. A further 31% ignoring strange engine noises and flashing warning lights, while 41% of those questioned, admitted to lacking either the time or knowledge to carry out routine maintenance work on their motorhomes.
Motorhome insurance providers along with experts from most motoring organisations warn against cost cutting measures that result in a vehicle remaining on the road when it clearly has faults. It is a policy that raises serious safety issues and owners are being urged not to ignore such faults as it will more than likely come back to haunt them later.
The cost of insuring a motorhome is one of the most contentious issues facing owners, but after several years of premium increases, there are encouraging signs that the cost of cover may be beginning to fall.
In July, research showed that the average cost of comprehensive cover had fallen £47 since the end of 2011, bringing the average premium down 7.1% from a year ago. This downward premium trajectory comes as little surprise to many in the insurance industry who have been expecting rates to turn because the market was ready for an adjustment. A number of factors have contributed to the reductions including incoming legal changes, such as the ban on personal injury referral fees due to come into force in April 2013, and the removal of recoverability of success fees are also beginning to apply downward pressure on rates.
Meanwhile, the fight against fraud is having its own impact on rates. Fraud detection has improved thanks to insurers using more sophisticated controls and validation processes to identify potentially fraudulent applications as early as possible. There’s been much innovation in this area and insurers can now identify issues in 1 in every 10 applications they receive. Spotting them at this stage means they prevent more serious instances of fraud while the policy is in force.
The sharp rise in fuel prices throughout 2011 affected motorhome owners more than most, however, research shows over three quarters have decided not to cut back on their driving habits. The good news for motorhome insurance firms was that drivers of all other vehicles decided to cut back on their mileage, which meant during 2011 there was a reduction in the number of accident claims. The battle for business is likely to take on a new dimension later this year when gender neutral rates come into force, and with gender taken out of the equation, insurers will be looking for additional data on which to base prices. Insurance brokers are expected to be very busy as motorhome owners of all ages look for competitive polices. It is not all good news for motorhome owners as in the years to come they are more likely to be hit by costs such as tolls, congestion charges, fuel prices and parking rather than by rising insurance premiums.
Motorhome owners heading to Europe this summer will pay less at the pump this year in almost every holiday destination. The savings come about not because fuel prices have fallen, in fact pump prices have risen throughout Europe, but research has shown that holiday drivers will be paying as much as 8.6% less for unleaded petrol and 10.4% less for diesel because of the strength of sterling against other European currencies.
The cheapest fuel can be found in Andorra where unleaded costs just £1.13 a litre, and diesel is even less at just £1.03 per litre. This price is 10% lower than last year and a massive 27% cheaper than the UK average price. Spain and Luxembourg join Andorra in offering some of the lowest-priced fuel among all the countries surveyed. At £1.21 a litre in both countries, filling up the motorhome with unleaded petrol for a journey will save the owner some much needed money. However, it is not all good news because despite Italy being one of the cheaper places to drive in 2011 soaring pump prices have now made the country second only to Norway for expensive motoring. France and Belgium are the two countries where most motorhome owners will cross from the UK to explore and they remain among the most expensive places to fill up. At £1.49 in France and £1.48 Belgium, the research concludes that it will pay mobile home owners to fill up in the United Kingdom before leaving. However, the opposite is the case for those with a diesel motorhome because the cost of diesel in the UK is 6p more expensive than France and 12p more than Belgium.
Research shows that just 8% of motorhome owners have been put off adding European cover to their motorhome insurance policy by the fuel prices in Europe. Those who are not put off are making advance route planning with petrol prices in mind to help them cut costs. The best advice is to fill up before leaving the UK if travelling to France or Belgium in a petrol vehicle, divert into Luxembourg if travelling south through eastern France or make a detour into Andorra en route to Spain. For diesel vehicles, fill up as soon as you arrive on the continent as it is much cheaper than in the United Kingdom.
Motorhome owners heading for an Easter break this coming weekend can expect to pay record prices once more when they pull into a garage forecourt.
With talks between unions and the oil companies still to take place and garages still suffering from fuel shortages, prices will be at a record high by the time Good Friday arrives and some are predicting prices will be well over £1.50 a litre.
The AA predicts prices may go up by 1p but others are saying wholesalers will take the opportunity to increase prices by much more. A point not lost on Brian Madderson, Chairman of the Retail Motor Industry Petrol Division, who said “Between a third and a half of the petrol stations we have surveyed are out of unleaded petrol, diesel or both. We have been in touch with retailers all over the country who tell us the same story, that the withdrawal of fuel in such a frenzy in the mid-part of last week has actually made the tankers roll back orders so that some of our members won’t be getting any fuel until later this week. Motorists are paying a significant premium because the wholesalers know they are on to a good thing. It’s the law of supply and demand. Some retailers are trying very hard to keep prices down. Other retailers have said, I can’t handle this crisis, my shop sales have crashed, I haven’t had a single car washed, and I’ve got to do something to pay the wages so I’m going to have to put my prices up.”
With this situation as a backdrop motorhome owners may have to consider how they can eke their fuel out a little longer. Insurance experts say there are several easy steps motorists can take this Easter to reduce their fuel bills and all of them will also help in keeping their motorhome insurance premiums down. First of all they suggest planning the journey well. This may seem obvious but a driver who plans a journey well can avoid known trouble spots at busy times. This will not only save him time and fuel, but even the above mentioned motorhome insurance costs. Getting stuck in a traffic jam often means a vehicle is burning fuel without actually getting anywhere and of course any motor insurer will confirm that vehicles stuck in traffic jams are much more susceptible to breakdowns and engine damage.
Keeping an eye on the speedometer will also help as fuel consumption increases significantly between 60 mph and 80mph, with most cars performing most economically at speeds between 40 and 50 mph. Ensuring your vehicle has the correct tyre pressure reduces fuel usage and accident frequency, as will concentrating on the road ahead. Lastly but not least for motorhome users is the weight of the vehicle. It is really easy to just shove everything in that you think you may need for your break at the last minute, but remember every ounce you carry means you are using more fuel and poor storage can lead to accidents when it comes to unpacking.
Motorhome owners will not be surprised that a survey conducted by a leading breakdown assistance company reveals that UK motorists find the cost of fuel the most annoying aspect of driving in the UK.
The survey by Autonational Rescue asked over 1,000 motorists from locations all over the UK to vote on the most annoying feature of everyday driving in Britain, and 4 in 10 said they found prices at the garage forecourt not only annoying but depressing too. And there’s little wonder really, because for many years now UK motorists have been close to the top of world fuel prices.
Ronan Hart, the marketing manager for Autonational Rescue confirmed as much, saying “The UK consistently ranks among the top three most expensive fuel prices for motorists in the entire world, with only Norway regularly beating us. If you want really cheap fuel you have to go to Venezuela (average price 3p per litre!) or some of the Gulf States.
“But in all honesty, the very fact we are consistently at the top of world fuel prices does justify the persistent complaint by our nation’s motorists that we pay far too much for fuel at the pumps. One of the few good things to come out of this time of austerity is that many councils are cutting back or even removing their public car parking charges, principally to bring shoppers into their towns and cities rather than to specifically help the motorist. But so much more should be done to keep the cost of motoring down.”
Other pet hates were revealed as bad driving techniques by other motorists, which came in second and not surprisingly the cost of insurance, including motorhome insurance. Surprisingly though, motorhome owners said the thing that annoyed them most about insurance costs was not so much the cost of the premium but the fact that insurance companies do not reward loyalty automatically to customers who have been with them for some time.
The cost of car parking and car servicing also featured highly but the Green Lobby may note that pollution from vehicle emissions only found top spot with 3 out of 100 drivers!