Most motorhome owners are extremely good at maintaining most of their motorhome, but when it comes to tyres things get a little bit lax. We get a lot of motorhome insurance claims where tyres have blown-out or worn through at speed and, often, this is because the tyre was improperly maintained in the first place. After the winter we’ve had, the UK’s roads are looking worse than they have done for a long time, and this is going to be a serious problem for motorhome tyres when the spring holidaymakers start to arrive.
Potholes are going to be one of the main problems for motorhome owners. The extra weight of motorhomes means that if they hit a pothole the impact is particularly hard on both suspension and tyres. If tyres are under-inflated this impact usually hits the suspension first, but properly inflated tyres should be able to take the impact.
Equally, loose chippings and debris from the decaying road surfaces are going to accelerate tyre wear. This is going to lead to reduced grip, particularly in the wet, and some motorhome owners may even find their tyres disintegrating below the legal 1mm tread limit. It is not only an offence to drive with tyres in poor condition, it’s incredibly dangerous and could easily lead to a collision.
Good tyre maintenance is an essential part of winter driving and motorhome owners are advised to take steps to ensure that their tyres are properly inflated to just below the maximum limit displayed on the tyre and that their tread is adequate for the conditions.
While we’re starting to see repairs being undertaken it looks like it’s going to be some time before the UK’s roads are back in good condition. For now the advice for motorhome owners has to be to stick to the main roads wherever possible and to avoid any narrow country lanes.
In the UK we have a unique road system which combines smooth, flowing motorways with narrow, gnarly country lanes and pretty much everything in between. This winter has been extremely tough on the roads, however, and the recent snow and ice has caused real deterioration. The press is billing the road situation as a ‘pothole crisis’ and for motorhome owners potholes are becoming a real problem.
The weight and size of a motorhome means that it can absorb most shocks from uneven road surfaces, but when pothole damage does hit it often causes serious damage. Punctures from potholes are a very common reason for a motorhome insurance claim and they can be immensely expensive if the damage goes through to the wheel.
Suspension is also at risk on winter roads and constant battering from potholes can severely weaken the springs that keep the ride smooth. Older vehicles are more likely to have been damaged in the past and so will be more at risk, but quite an impact is necessary to completely dislodge a suspension unit.
Many drivers take the evasive approach when it comes to potholes, trying to line up the wheels away from the actual hole and avoid it all together. This can prevent the initial damage from hitting a hole but often results in drivers swerving which can cause a skid and potentially an incident. Avoiding potholes also becomes habitual and very often it’s safer just to approach the hole slowly.
Unfortunately the roads in the UK are only likely to get worse for the next few months until warmer weather makes repairs possible. Even then, heavy rainfall and latent drainage problems could cause further difficulties and worse damage. Until then motorhome owners are advised to take extreme caution on country lanes and make sure to keep details of their breakdown cover provider handy, alongside a charged mobile phone, just in case of the worst.
Motorhome owners and insurance firms will not be pleased as two pieces of bad news affecting both of them have just been released. Owners are going to have to put up with even more potholes on the road as well as more lights being turned off by councils throughout the United Kingdom.
The NAO (National Audit Office) has released data that shows many local authorities have less to spend on road repairs this winter as the coalition funding has been reduced by more than 20%. As a result they are faced with considerably depleted funds to finance essential highway maintenance and pothole repairs. 2012 has seen a 16% increase in the number of mobile home owners making claims on their motorhome insurance policy after damage was caused to their valuable investment when driving over a pothole. The average repair bill is £130, but some claims are as high as £3,000 and a number of motorhome owners are trying to claim from the council rather than asking their insurance firm to foot the bill. The report has outlined concerns that there is not enough to fund the repair of potholes, risking increased road accident levels. Experts are urging mobile home owners to make sure they are fully protected and if they are unsure, they should ask a broker to find a competitive policy.
To compound the issue of holes in roads, lights on streets throughout the UK are being either switched off or dimmed in order to cut costs and lower carbon emissions. Research found 3,080 miles of major roads and motorways in England now has no lighting and another 47 miles are dimmed during early morning.
Motorhome owners argue that how are they supposed to see potholes on the road if the lights are switched off. They have raised safety concerns that accidents are much more likely to occur in darkness, claiming presence of lighting not only reduces the risk of traffic accidents but also their severity. There are both economic and environmental reasons to cut the amount of lighting, however, there are many safety reasons why lighting has to be made available to drivers at night. Research has shown that 70% of Britain’s motorway network now has no lighting at night, which has saved the Highways Agency £400,000 in the last twelve months but has cost the insurance industry much more in claims.
A survey of older drivers, many of whom hold motorhome insurance policies, has discovered a whole nation of “Victor Meldrews” who constantly feel they have something to moan about… and usually do.
The survey of drivers over 50 years old asked them if they felt they had ever been unfairly treated in motoring circumstances and how they reacted if they had been. The survey asked about motoring offences, repairs and servicing, parking and potholes. The results were interesting to say the least.
When it came to complaining, both male and female respondents indicated that objecting to parking tickets was the most likely scenario they would react to, with roughly one third of each saying they would challenge what they considered an unfair parking ticket. In fact 1 in 3 of those who said they had challenged a parking fine reported they were successful. In London the percentage of drivers who challenged a parking fine rose to an amazing 44%. Strangely enough the ratio falls to just 1 in 20 drivers complaining when it comes to speeding tickets. For those who feel they were victims of rough justice but did not complain the overriding reason was very different when it came to opposite sexes. The men did not complain because they were afraid of incurring costs whereas the women did not complain because they didn’t know how to!
When it comes to complaining about the servicing and repair standards at a garage, both sexes said the main reason they didn’t was because they were afraid of confrontation, however, of those who did summon up the courage to complain, older women had the edge. Not only do more complain (18% compared to 13%) but they also have a better success rate (23% to 17%). Potholes were one of the most vexatious issues with 16% of those questioned saying their vehicles had suffered pothole damage. Unfortunately only 6% reported a successful outcome of their complaint.
Overall the survey discovered that the over 50s do complain a lot but would complain even more if they were confident how to do it. Which suggests there is an opportunity out there for someone?