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When it all goes wrong

Category: Caravanning
27 Apr 2018
Written by Andy Hits: 2367

I really wasn't planning to write this as my next article.  I'd planned on doing something about the awning and things I'd made for it.

Anyhow, what happens when things go wrong.   Let's start by borrowing from Douglas Adams. Don't Panic

For us it was getting our van off our driveway for a weekend away at Easter.
All the normal checks had been done.

  • Towball cleaned
  • Mirrors fitted
  • Noseweight checked
  • All doors / windows closed/locked
  • Legs raised
  • Caravan attached
  • Lights checked
  • ....

But as we started to pull forward, there was a horrible metallic grating sound, like a leg had been forgotten and was dragging on the driveway.
This distracted us from making the tight turn off of our driveway, and without waiting for my wife who was watching, I started the turn about 15 cm too soon. 
The rear drivers side awning rail was caught on a bolt sticking out from the gatepost.  There is the smallest mark on the sidewall from the bolt too
With the awning rail snagged on the bolt, it bent and tore the rear GRP panel, detaching the grab handle and light cluster too.
I stopped as soon as my wife said so, as by then it was on my blind side.
Dropping the caravan where it was, I moved the tow car so we only blocked one lane (the tow ball was at about the white line)
As we wondered about how we were going to shift 1.5 tonnes of caravan out of the road, a passing BMW driver stopped and offered to lend a hand pushing back on the driveway.


A picture is worth a thousand words, so here are 2!


Side view of damage

 Rear light cluster:

Rear damage

So what happened next?

First off we had to calm down a bit.  Fortunately the only things that were wounded was our pride and our caravan, and at least the caravan could be repaired!

Next I tried to contact the insurance company.  I called a number I'd got in an email when I took out the insurance.  Unfortunately it was their customer service number, and they gave me the underwriters number.
The underwriters hours are Monday to Friday, 9 - 5, excluding public holidays, except for emergencies.  With the 'van on our driveway, I figured it wasn't an emergency and set about finding something to try and limit damp getting in until Tuesday, as it was a long bank holiday weekend.

On Tuesday morning, I called the underwriters again, and after a long while on hold I got put through to someone, who explained that because of the poor weather in March, the caravan team was overwhelmed and that the details would be taken on paper and entered into the computers, hopefully by Friday

I didn't hear very much for a long while without me first chasing them, which didn't take away the stress of it.  Off of my own back, just so I'd got something in the pipeline I started contacting caravan repair places.  The dealer I bought it from referred me to a local accident repair centre, and I also found details of a Swift approved workshop.  I also got some white duct tape to replace the plastic sheet and parcel tape which I had to hand on the Friday

13 days after the claim was raised, and multiple calls to find out what is happening I got a call to confirm details of the claim. Trying to keep things light, I did say something like "While moving the caravan off our driveway, it was hit by the stationary gatepost"!  I then resent pictures to the underwriters, including the ones above, and forwarded the quotes that I had received.
Later on that week I got emails to confirm that the underwriters were happy with the quote, and I should confirm to them that I was happy for them to pay the repairer (minus the excess which I would pay direct to them).

Later that day, I got a call to say the parts should be with them in 4 weeks, but its more likely to take 6.  So the repair is now booked in for early June. Updates and photos of the repair to follow  

We have also decided to get a motor mover fitted as getting the caravan off the drive onto a relatively busy "B" road was the "easy" bit.  If we could get that maneuver so badly wrong, how badly could the reverse onto the drive go 

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