As state borders reopen and travellers begin to feel confident making the annual pilgrimage north for the winter, it's essential to consider the big ‘what-if’ questions — what if you break down in a remote location? What if you have an accident? What if you need a spare part and you are hundreds of kilometres from the nearest major town?
Here we outline the ins and outs of various roadside assistance packages offered to RV owners, the benefits of extending your cover with caravan insurance and the pitfalls you need to keep an eye out for when selecting your type and level of cover.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
The main pitfalls when choosing your policy or level of roadside assistance include daily entitlements for hire cars and emergency accommodation, restrictions on caravan weights and sizes, breakdown towing distance limits, the differences in towing limits for country areas as opposed to areas classed as remote (most organisations have maps of limits on their website), and whether using a non-motoring association repairer or contractor may void certain entitlements.
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE PACKAGES
Major motoring groups NRMA, RACV and RACQ are members of the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) and have affiliations with motoring organisations across Australia and overseas. Memberships entitle you to national roadside assistance coverage as they have reciprocal arrangements with all other state and territory motoring clubs in Australia.
If you’re travelling interstate, be sure to call and check your reciprocal benefits and what you’re entitled to before you take off.
In Victoria, RACV offers three levels of breakdown service but its Total Care package is probably most suited for RVers who want to get out on the road more than 60km from home. It’s a $255 annual cost and is available to any car you’re driving and the caravan or trailer you tow, with one additional nominated driver also covered.
Your vehicle and caravan must be under 8t combined weight, with the towed vehicle being less than 3.3m high, 2.5m wide, and 9m in length. Total Care gives you the first 100km of towing in any direction (or to the nearest RACV service centre) of your breakdown for your vehicle and your caravan or trailer, unlimited callouts, including flat tyre, jumpstart, and out of fuel calls (within Victoria).
If you’re more than 100km from home, and your vehicle breaks down and your van or trailer has been towed to a place of repair, you can claim up to $2400 for you and your travel party for accommodation, rental vehicles, alternative transportation and taxi fares — though daily limits apply.
It’s also handy that if your caravan or trailer can’t be repaired within three business days, and an alternative repairer can't be found, you can then choose to have your vehicle transported to a destination of your choice within Australia. It’s worth noting there may be an excess for drivers aged under 25 under this policy.
Be sure to check the full terms and conditions associated with RACV breakdown services (racv.com.au) to determine which package is right for you.
NRMA (New South Wales)
Premium Care and Premium Plus are NRMA’s two roadside assistance packages designed specifically for those with heavier vehicles or who tow caravans, trailers or boats.
Premium Care is essential roadside assistance protection for those who travel out of town or have larger vehicles up to 3.5t and trailers, including boats and caravans up to 2t. Premium Care costs $204/year and Premium Plus is $336/year as it offers some increased assistance limits. Both have a one-off $55 joining fee.
Some inclusions of both packages are:
- Unlimited roadside assistance callouts any time, Australia-wide (some restrictions apply);
- Up to 50km in metro and country areas, and up to 100km in remote areas;
- Jumpstarts and flat tyre fitting;
- Locksmith coverage up to $100 if they can’t get you moving;
- Fuel if you run out;
- Up to $3000 for accommodation, car hire and onward travel in the event of a major breakdown (some restrictions apply);
- Assistance arranging accommodation and onward travel after an accident that leaves you stranded more than 100km from home; and
- $50 towards a taxi if your vehicle requires towing.
You can also choose from a variety of add-ons including windscreen cover and extra towing allowances (up to 10km extra).
Be sure to check the full terms and conditions associated with NRMA Roadside Assistance packages to determine which package is right for you.
The Sunshine State’s roadside assistance provider offers five levels of breakdown service with the top two premium tiers providing extras for longer trips with eligible caravans and trailers.
The RACQ Ultra Care and RACQ Ultimate both cover:
- Your nominated vehicle and an extra eligible vehicle.
- Emergency fuel, flat tyre changes and jumpstarts;
- Taxi, rental vehicle and locksmith benefits;
- Specialist towing ($165/year for Ultra and $250/year for Ultimate)
Under RACQ Ultra Care, your van must be under 4t gross weight, under 3.3m high and 7m long, and the track width can’t exceed 2.4m.
With this level of care, you’re covered for:
- Up to 60km towing in any direction for your vehicle and caravan/trailer (if attached to the eligible vehicle) or up to 120km when towing back to an attending RACQ contractor’s premises or an intermediate location en route; and
- RACQ will travel up to 120km to your breakdown location at no extra cost.
Extra entitlements if you’re further than 100km from home with Ultra Care includes accommodation up to $770 per incident, rental vehicle allowance of $100/day up to seven days, and air, rail or coach transportation for up to five people.
Under RACQ Ultimate, your van must be under 4t gross weight, under 3.3m high and 9.7m long, and the track width can’t exceed 2.4m.
With this level, you’re covered for:
- Up to 100km towing in any direction for your vehicle and caravan/trailer (if attached to the eligible vehicle) or up to 200km towing when towing back to an attending RACQ contractor’s premises or an intermediate location en route; and
- RACQ will travel up to 200km to your breakdown location at no extra cost.
Extra entitlements if you’re further than 100km from home with Ultimate includes accommodation up to $2400 per incident, rental vehicle allowance of $110/day up to 12 days, and air, rail or coach transportation for up to six people.
Check RACQ’s full terms and conditions for roadside assistance services to determine which package is right for you.
COVER YOUR VEHICLE AND RV
While many new cars come with manufacturer roadside assistance, it usually won't cover you if you're far from home or towing a trailer or caravan.
Some RV manufacturers including New Age, Coromal Caravans, Jayco and Avida offer emergency roadside assistance packages too, so it’s worth looking into what’s available if you’re in the market for a new van and want some bonus inclusions.
For example, Jayco offers Jayco Roadside Assist, guaranteeing customer service support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for a full three years of RV ownership in Australia. Covered incidents include emergency flat tyre replacement, lockout or lost keys, reimbursement of emergency towing costs up to $1000 per incident and emergency accommodation. Jayco also offers insurance for van owners.
If you're after a little more peace of mind, caravan insurance can give you even more protection than roadside assistance policies. There’s a range of insurers and levels of cover to choose from to suit your van and circumstances.
RACV, RACQ and NRMA offer caravan and trailer insurance for touring and onsite vans as well as trailers. They all differ slightly but standard policy inclusions are:
- Storm, hail, flood fire, theft or attempted theft cover;
- Accidental or malicious damage cover;
- Liability cover of up to $20 million;
- Towing from an incident to a safe place or nearest repairer; and
- Replacement costs if your touring caravan is less than two years old and it is a total loss (some conditions apply).
For emergency repairs, NRMA will pay up to $1000 for repairs and RACV and RACQ offer up to $500 for emergency repairs to get you on the road again. All pay up to $100/day (up to seven days) for temporary accommodation if you're 100km or more from home (or up to $4000 for an on-site van) and you can't live in your van as a result of a covered incident. All have a variety of add-on products.
For those hitting the road, RACV and RACQ’s Caravan and Trailer Insurance also offers emergency 24-hour assistance from Aussie Assist which can be used whenever you have an emergency while traveling 100km from home. Aussie Assist is a telephone service available 24/7 that can help you and any dependent family member with a range of benefit and support services for many types of emergencies from getting travel directions to booking accommodation or even help with contacting your financial institution to transfer emergency funds or cancel or reissue your credit or debit cards. Aussie Assist also has RACV Prime Cover, designed to meet the needs of people 50 years and older.
Costs of each policy depends on the level of cover you choose and be sure to check the full terms and conditions and product disclosure statements before committing to a policy.
CMCA ASSISTANCE AND INSURANCE
Members of the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA) can purchase roadside assistance from Allianz Global Assistance which offers help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s Australia-wide and costs $180/year.
While Allianz Roadside Assistance doesn’t extend to breakdown-related matters associated with the caravan or trailer itself, or caravan and trailer couplings where the vehicle is still mobile, the service will coordinate transport of the attached caravan or trailer to a repairer or nearest safe location if your vehicle breaks down.
Some towing and transportation limits apply, and the caravan or trailer cannot exceed the legal towing weight or dimension restrictions for a passenger vehicle transporter.
If you break down more than 100km from home and your vehicle can’t be repaired on the same day, you’ll be covered for:
- Up to 10 nights’ accommodation up to the value of $150/night if you decide to stay close to where your vehicle is being repaired;
- Rental vehicle for up to 10 days at $99/day;
- Alternative transportation for you and up to four passengers to your home or your intended destination up to a maximum of $2000 per incident should hotel accommodation or a rental vehicle be unavailable; and
- Vehicle relocation: the repaired vehicle will be delivered to your home or intended destination up to a maximum value of $1000.
Check with the CMCA for full inclusions and exclusions.
CMCA RECREATIONAL VEHICLE INSURANCE
Ken Tame provides specifically tailored recreational vehicles insurance for campervans/pop-tops, motorhomes, touring caravans and tow vehicles, slide-on campers and tow vehicles, converted buses or coaches and fifth-wheelers and tow vehicles.
The inclusions and benefit levels differ with each policy, but standard inclusions are:
- Australia-wide coverage, including while being transported by sea;
- All accessories, fittings and appliances permanently attached internally or externally to the vehicle/vehicles;
- Windscreen or window glass replacement;
- $20 million liability for bodily injury or property;
- Emergency repairs;
- Hire of a replacement vehicle;
- Accommodation costs while the vehicle/vehicles being repaired following a covered claim;
- Towing and storage costs following a claim or mechanical or electrical breakdown;
- Reasonable costs to transport you to your place of residence following a covered theft or severe damage claim.
Policy costs are based on your needs, and type of RV. You can check out the full range of policies and inclusions, underwritten by Allianz, here: ktainsurance.com.au.
CLUB 4X4 INSURANCE
To insure your 4X4, camper trailers, caravans, slide-on campers or fifth wheeler, you can also get a range of products from Club 4x4.
4x4 insurance benefits include Australia-wide coverage including for all your accessories and modifications, offroad recovery up to $1500, up to $2000 coverage for accidental loss or damage to your personal effects anywhere in Australia, vehicle hire cover, up to $1000 in emergency repairs and more. You can also save up to 20 per cent on your policy by completing recognised 4WD training, and up to 10 per cent on your caravan or camper policy by completing recognised towing training.
For your van or camper trailer, you’re covered for:
- $750 of towing (with a $100 excess);
- $2000 to repair damaged annexe;
- Food spoilage;
- $1000 coverage for accidental loss or damage to your contents in your caravan or camper trailer; and
- Up to $1000 for a burnt out electrical appliance.
You can also choose the seasons when you won’t be using your van and pay a cheaper premium.
To get a quote and check out the full range of policies and inclusions, visit club4x4.com.au.
There are also several other insurance companies which are set up to cover caravans and tow vehicles, camper trailers and motorhomes other than the ones listed in this article. Whichever option you choose, the bottom line is it is imperative to do your own thorough research to ensure the packages you choose suit your vehicle and van and will get you out of a jam when you are on the road and an incident occurs.
If you’re preparing to hit the open road this winter in search of warmer climes, it’s also important to do a complete safety check before you head off to get ahead of any potential problems.
Roadside assistance packages and insurance are fantastic safety nets which offer peace of mind if something goes wrong, but nothing beats being prepared in order to ward off potential issues.
RACV (Vic): racv.com.au and racv.com.au/content/dam/racv/documents/on-the-road/era/era-terms-and-conditions.PDF (terms and conditions)
RACQ (QLD): racq.com.au and racq.com.au/roadside-assistance/compare-roadside-options
NRMA (NSW and ACT): mynrma.com.au/cars-and-driving/roadside-assistance
RAC (WA): rac.com.au
RACT (Tas): ract.com.au
AANT (NT): aant.com.au
RAA (SA): raa.com.au/en/motor/road-service
Jayco Roadside Assistance: jayco.com.au/roadside-assistance and jayco.com.au/insurance
New Age Assist: newagecaravans.com.au/customer-wellbeing/new-age-assist
Coromal Caravans Assist: coromal.com.au/menu/built-by-apollo
4X4 Club: club4x4.com.au
Ken Tame insurance: ktainsurance.com.au
Aussie Assist insurance: Search for ‘Aussie Assist’ on racv.comau and racq.com.au