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Insurance in the UK and which van/car to get

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 chrislemess 05 Sep 2020

Hi folks,

An Australian here shocked and horrified at cost of insurance in the UK. Looking for some advice. The dream was to get a panel van and convert and go with specialist motorhome cover but haven't found anything that will cover me in my current situation and with the 1200 quid van I had in mind. No no claims discount as it's all in Aus and can't transfer over as too long ago now. Prices are over 2k which is madness.

NEXT idea was that I can insure an MPV or estate for around 650 a year and build up some NCD in the UK for a couple of years. It looks like I can get OK prices on insurance as long as they're listed as car derived vans. Even a Subaru Forester isn't too crazy insurance-wise.

So the question is: what cars would you recommend? At this stage we're talking simply ability to sleep in back for weekend trips. Mind you if I did get something with a higher-top, like the window-ed version of the Berlingo, I could potentially do a small kitchen setup and deck it out just as I would have done with the panel van version. Less easy to insulate though... I guess you could paint that removable paint on inside of windows and just board it up inside...?

Oh and I'm 6'4.

Cheers for any advice!


 melocoton 05 Sep 2020
In reply to chrislemess:

I have a VW Sharan (which is exactly the same as a Seat Alhambra and the older shape Ford Galaxy). They are a 7 seat MPV and with all the seats taken out is a huge space, much bigger than the car derived vans such as the Renault Kongo, Citroen Berlingo etc and not much smaller than a VW Transporter size van.

I’ve made some plywood boxes which fit in the back and can store all my gear for a month long Alpine climbing trip and still sleep on the platform above which is 2m long even with the front seats pushed as far back as they will go. The downsides are that there isn’t quite enough room to sit up on the sleeping platform but you can sit in the front seats (on some models these rotate to face the rear), and you can’t really cook in it other than to stand under the tailgate at the back which is fine if the weather is ok but not ideal in strong wind or driving rain but you could make or buy a tailgate tent.
I wouldn’t use it live in for long trips so still take a tent for longer trips but it’s great for a few nights or longer if the weather is fine.

The Peugeot 807 /  Citroen C8 / Fiat Ulysses is another alternative MPV worth considering, again, all the same car just different badges.

 henwardian 05 Sep 2020
In reply to chrislemess:

Try Campton Insurance Brokers. I'm with them and they are pretty good for self-converted campers. The problem absolutely everyone has is that a camper is specialist, then a self-converted one is even more specialist, then you want to be able to do 20k miles a year, not 2k miles and you might want more than the standard 90 days EU cover so you find that you are so far down the specialist path that 99% of companies won't touch you with a bargepole. But when you find the exact one that does have a reasonable policy that covers your circumstances, the price will suddenly at least half.

It's worth telling them about your AU no-claims, some might decide to credit them anyway, especially if you can provide evidence of them.

 tjdodd 05 Sep 2020
In reply to chrislemess:

Try Brentacre for van insurance.  They are brokers and very good at finding the cheapest price for van insurance where you are not using the van for work.  They are really good for allowing you to convert the van without additional cost to the insurance.  You just let them know when you make changes to the van.  Your lack of NCD may be an issue but worth trying them.

Also check that any NCD you build up on a car can be transferred to a van.  Not always possible.

 chrislemess 05 Sep 2020

Thanks folks this is all helpful. I'll try those other companies before I give up totally. And then maybe look at some MPVs.

The next drama is I still haven't switched my Aus licence over and the DVLA is apparently taking months to sort stuff like that out these days... so finding an insurer that would take my foreign licence is even more niche. Might just need to give up until I get that sorted...

Thanks again

In reply to chrislemess:

Nissan X-trail. I've got a T30 (Mark 1). Seats fold flat. Can put a double airbed in the back. Easy to get parts as they sold millions of them. Drives relatively nicely and does 4 wheel drive when you need it. 

Should be cheapish to insure. If camping in car a roof box is a good and simple addition.

 kirsten 06 Sep 2020
In reply to chrislemess: I think you”ll have problems without a track record of driving in the UK (let alone with anything approaching a specialist vehicle).  I’ve yet to find to find anyone who will insure my partner on my camper... for any price  

Post edited at 20:58
 chrislemess 10 Sep 2020

Thanks all for your help, after much research the only practical thing to do is switch my licence over to a UK licence, and then buy something that is classed as an estate or MPV. The insurance comes in at half. I've even found Citroen Dispatches etc that have windows but obviously are listed as vans in their V5C, which means the insurance doubles at least. Looks like I can get a windowed version of these vans insured for around £700 a year or so, to begin with....

Cheers again for all advice

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