Camping and caravanning getaways have seen an enormous spike in popularity among South Africans over the last two years. The Covid-19 pandemic and the various levels of lockdown that came with it, seems to have driven locals out of the confinement of their four walls and into the great outdoors where there are less restrictions to navigate.
Bertus Visser, Chief Executive of Distribution at PSG Insure, points to recent findings from Statistics South Africa that the caravan parks and camping sites accommodation category of the tourism industry generated R73.3 million in income revenue from July to September this year, up from R29.8 million over the same period in 2020. “But what’s more interesting is that this accommodation category – although its overall contribution to the sector remains small – is now exceeding its pre-pandemic levels and is the only category to do so, having generated an income revenue of R65.8 million over the same period in 2019.”
He says that for many, spending time outdoors will remain the popular choice to recharge their batteries for the foreseeable future, especially with health concerns remaining front and centre. “Whether you are new to embracing an outdoors lifestyle or are a veteran camper, we all know how important it is to consider the risks before setting off on an adventure of any kind. Anyone who’s ever camped before will know it’s all about being prepared.”
With this in mind, Visser delves into some of the most important boxes to check before you set off on your next camping adventure.
Do your safety check first
Visser explains that ensuring your car, caravan and trailer are roadworthy is the first priority. “If you’re hauling caravans or trailers this holiday season, it’s important to inspect your tyres, particularly if they haven’t been used in a while. Tyres do deteriorate with age even if they are in storage. Factors such as temperature, humidity and light exposure can cause the quality of the tyres to be compromised, making them unsafe. In addition to this, all tyres need to be replaced as soon as the tread is below the legal minimum of 1.6mm. Always replace your tyres at a reputable dealership, in line with the legal tread requirements.”
Next, he says checking that all tyres (including spares) are inflated to the correct optimum pressure is essential for ensuring that one’s vehicle is balanced. “This is particularly important when hauling heavy caravans or trailers. Unroadworthy tyres are among the most common causes of accidents, and are commonly cited as the reason for an insurance claim being repudiated. Insurance policies will typically not cover you for an accident or claim if you do not honour the conditions of the policy.”
Service is king
Keeping up with one’s service schedule is another critically important factor in ensuring your car, caravan and trailer are roadworthy. “Always make sure your service is done in accordance with your service book requirements regardless of whether you go away once a year, four times a year, or once every two years. And don’t forget about updating your licence disks!”
Get the right cover
Camping equipment can be expensive and the values can add up to quite a significant sum especially when you include outdoor sporting equipment. According to Visser, it’s always best to talk to your adviser and let them know what equipment you are travelling with to ensure you have enough cover and that your sum insured is adequate.
“Caravans and trailers have to be specified in your insurance policy similar to a normal vehicle. Anything specific, or the more expensive items you might take on a camping or caravanning holiday such as mountain bikes, kayaks, camp fridge/freezers, family tents and awnings need to be specified under the all risks section in your policy. This will ensure your valuables are covered in any eventuality. Note this should also include any modifications you have made to a caravan or trailer, for example a fixed roof rack or roof tent.”
Lastly, Visser states that if it happens that you have a breakdown or accident while on holiday, make sure that you know who to call.
“In case of a breakdown or accident, you should immediately contact your adviser or insurer to get authorisation to tow your vehicle. It is vital that you don’t allow an unapproved towing company to tow your vehicle or caravan. While it may seem like the quickest solution, it often causes issues when it comes time to claim.”
He says that travellers should keep key contact information (like the contact details for their insurer, broker and emergency responders) close at hand on any road trip. Taking out roadside assistance for minor emergencies such as flat tyres and other minor events is also helpful.
“With your safety checks done, your licence disks renewed, your car, trailer or caravan packed and your insurance updated, you’re ready to head for the hills, oceans, mountains or nature reserves to recharge your batteries and nourish your soul,” Visser concludes.