When it comes to owning a caravan or motorhome there is obviously a pretty significant question you need to answer, where are you going to store it? Quite a few of our guests store their caravan at home as we do. However, I would say the vast majority of our guests keep their caravan/motorhome at a storage yard. Therefore, with this post, I thought I would discuss the factors you need to consider when it comes to choosing a storage yard, and there is quite a few. You obviously want to choose a storage yard where your leisure vehicle will be as safe and secure as possible. However, the level of security provided also influences the rate you will be charged. Furthermore, using a cheaper storage yard may end up increasing your annual insurance premium.
It may appear that this post is aimed at caravan beginners or motorhome beginners. However, the reality is every leisure vehicle owner who uses a storage yard should be evaluating their options, ideally once a year. For instance, a storage yard which is more local to you with more security and a better price may have opened recently. With this post, I’m going to include a couple of videos. The first is from the insurance provider Caravan Guard on the general factors to consider when choosing a storage yard. The second two videos are from popular YouTubers. They provide more personal feedback on why they have chosen/or been forced to change the storage yard they had been using.
How To Choose a Caravan/Motorhome Storage Yard
Below is a video which is well worth watching from one of the best insurance providers Caravan Guard as they discuss how to choose a storage yard. Now, its important to note that different insurance companies have different conditions and terms. So while the video below is good general advice from one insurance companies point of view, don’t presume it applies to all insurance companies. After reading this post before drawing a shortlist of potential storage yards you should first ring/email your insurance company. Ask them which storage sites local to you will raise or lower your insurance premium.
Now that you have watched the video above, I wish to provide some additional information/context below on the points you need to consider when choosing a storage yard. My first recommendation is to never pay for a space on a storage yard without going there in person first. While a storage yard may be advertised with certain security ratings etc, you really need to check the facilities in person. For instance, CCTV is pretty useless unless someone is actually monitoring it.
CaSSOA Rated Caravan/Motorhome Storage Sites
As referenced in the Caravan Gaurd video above, many caravan storage yards are registered with the Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association, also known a CaSSOA. Storage yards registered with CaSSOA are given a rating of either Bronze, Silver or Gold. The rating is based on a points-based system. More points are accrued with more security features. These include the security standard of perimeter protection and access gates. Is there security lighting with CCTV surveillance? Furthermore, what provisions are in place to deal with on-site fires?
Your caravan/motorhome insurance company may specifically state that it must have a CaSSOA rating of a certain level. However, I’ve heard from our guests that insurance companies don’t base their insurance rates purely based on the CaSSOA rating. They may even offer a better rate for some none rated CaSSOA storage sites. Hence, why your insurance company is one of the most important sources of information when choosing a storage yard.
CaSSOA – Room for Improvement?
While a storage site with a CaSSOA gold rating is some form of reassurance that they will provide suitable protection from theft, I wouldn’t recommend making your decision solely on a CaSSOA rating. For instance, on the CaSSOA website, the following is stated:
“CaSSOA sites are surveyed every 5 years, unless there is a security concern which warrants an additional visit.” : cassoa.co.uk
Personally, I think that’s quite a long period of time between inspections. During that period of time, the site operator may not have kept up with maintenance such as the fencing or CCTV system. It is stated a visit before the 5 years period may take place if CaSSOA believes its necessary. What that probably means, is a site visit within 5 years will take place if a caravan or motorhome has been stolen. Furthermore, when you use the storage site search on the CaSSOA website there are no details listed on when the last site visit was completed.
Distance Between Caravans/Motorhomes (Fire Safety)
As a caravan site owner, during site setup, I was instructed to make sure the pitches were separated by at least 6m for fire safety reasons. Hence, to make sure the fire could not jump from one caravan to the next. However, that rule does not appear to be in place for storage yards. For the likely reason, the caravans/motorhome are not in use, hence the fire risk is lower. But fires can potentially still happen, hence when you visit a potential storage yard you want to check how close together they are positioning the caravans and motorhomes. Anything less than 2m I would personally avoid that storage site. Not only for the potential increased fire risk spreading more quickly between vans, but also because it will be more tricky to park up and leave the site with your caravan or motorhome. You may also want to read my post on the best fire safety equipment.
Travelling Distance to the Storage Yard
Another key consideration when choosing a storage site for your caravan or motorhome is how long it takes you to get there from home. The reason is simple. If you need to use a storage yard that means in almost all cases you cannot park your caravan or motorhome outside of your home to load it up for your travels. Well, that, therefore, means you have got take all your belongings in your car to the caravan/motorhome at the storage yard. Its highly likely you won’t be able to do that in one trip. Hence, the further the storage yard is from your home the more back and forth there will be. Adding additional expense and taking up a lot more time. Popular YouTuber Dan Trudgian discusses the issue of distances to storage yards in the video below:
Now, in Dan’s case, he was visiting the storage yard to make videos far more frequently than your average caravan or motorhome owner would. However, the point still stands on the additional time and expense travelling to a storage yard which is a considerable distance from your home.
The main reason someone would choose a storage yard further away from their home is due to cost as Dan discusses in the video above. However, you also have to factor in the cost of your time and the petrol/diesel to get there. In other words, when looking at the total cost of storage yard you have to factor in these expenses. Along with how your choice of storage yard will influence your annual insurance premium, either raising or lowering it.
Storage Yard On-Site Facilities
While the primary purpose of the storage yard is to obviously keep your caravan and motorhome safe, some sites offer additional facilities. For instance, they may offer an area for you to clean your caravan with mains water. Even if they do have mains power available, I personally wouldn’t use a pressure washer. As Dan stated in the video above, some storage yards may even provide a platformed area for you to reverse your caravan into to clean the roof. The above facilities would also be very handy for cleaning a motorhome.
Storage Yard On-Site Caravan/Motorhome Servicing
Some storage yards even offer a dedicated area where the caravan or motorhome can be positioned for a visit from a mobile service technician. An annual caravan service is very important to make sure the caravan is safe to use. For instance, the caravan brakes will be checked, along with the gas system. Motorhome habitation checks are also important. Some storage yards are actually located next to a caravan service centre. Therefore, the service centre could service the caravan without you having to go and fetch it each year and take it to the service centre. Obviously, storage yards next to service centres will likely charge a premium. Before you discuss the additional cost you really do have to factor in the cost of your time and fuel for the return trips taking a caravan to and from the service centre.
Caravan/Motorhome Storage Site Flood Risk
Something you may want to consider when choosing a storage site for your caravan or motorhome is flood risk. Now, any reputable storage yard should have public liability insurance. Sometimes that will cover damage caused by flooding, but you should also check with your own insurance provider. However, I’m going to guess you would like to avoid the issue of flood damage in the first place. Hence, once you know the postcode for the location of the storage yard you can check its location on the government’s flood map:
To generate the map above I just entered the postcode for us here at Horton Common. However, as we are on a hill at a pretty high elevation, even if the icecaps melt flooding is not a possibility. However, you will notice on the right-hand side of the image the flood zone colour indicators. The best scenario is a storage yard located in flood zone 1 as we are here at Horton Common. A flood zone 1 means a 1 in 1000 year chance of flooding. Flood zone 2 means between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 100. A flood zone 3 means a chance greater than a 1 in 100 year chance of flooding. Flood zone 2 is still relatively unlikely to flood. However, personally I would keep away from a storage yard located in flood zone 3.
Storage Yard Costs
Now annual costs of keeping your caravan or motorhome in storage will vary significantly depending on your location and the level of the security protection offered at the storage yard. CaSSOA currently states a UK average annual storage yard cost of around £400 to £500. Though some storage yards will charge less than this and some quite a bit more. I had one guest inform me they were paying close to £900 a year. No that may seem like a lot, and it is, but you have to consider that cost in context. For that particular guest, the storage yard was very close to their home, less than 5 miles. Hence they were willing to pay for convenience. Furthermore, they felt that particular storage yard provided the best security of any other storage site within 20 miles. They also got the biggest discount from their insurance company choosing that particular storage site.
Indoor or Outdoor Storage?
Some storage yards will offer the option of storing your caravan indoors in a warehouse. A significant number of storage yards are actually on farms, and therefore cattle sheds surplus to requirements are sometimes used. Typically you will be expected to pay more for indoor storage. With indoor storage, your caravan/motorhome will be better protected from potential storm damage. Furthermore, if the doors on the building are suitably secure it should provide an extra layer of protection from theft.
First, clarify with your insurance company if additional discounts are provided for indoor over outdoor storage. Depending on their answer you will then have to choose if you wish to pay the additional charge for indoor storage. With the internal structural elements of the building (columns/posts), it may be harder to manoeuvre the caravan/motorhome. Therefore that is another consideration you need to factor in.
Theft from Caravan/Motorhome Storage Yards
The last video I wanted to include into this post on storage yards is from Keith & Michele of the YouTube channel Carefree Caravanning. Unfortunately in 2018, their caravan was stolen from a storage yard. This video was produced just before their new caravan arrived and they discuss how and why they have chosen a different storage yard at the request of their insurance provider.
Conclusions on How to Choose a Storage Yard
So hopefully from reading the above, I hope its clear that you should not just choose a storage yard based on its price and its CaSSOA rating. You first need to contact your insurance company for their advice. Secondly, visit the potential storage yards and make your own assessment. Ask about CCTV and as stated by Keith & Michele above, ask to see it in operation and observe that someone is actually watching it. Really, to save you time and travelling expenses you do obviously want to try and find a suitable storage yard as close to home as possible. Or you may find it more suitable to find a storage site closer to your caravan service centre.
When it comes to the cost of storing your caravan or motorhome, remember to factor in the total costs. That includes any insurance discounts and the cost in fuel to get there and back from your home. Furthermore, remember your time to get there and back does have value, so you need to factor that in as well. Hence, a storage site located closer to you which initially seems more expensive than a site that’s further away may actually be cheaper when you look at the total cost.
Anyway, I hope the above information and videos are of some use to you when picking your next storage yard. I also hope in the near future you consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common Caravan Site to experience our fully serviced pitches and amazing views. 🙂