The range of trackers available to motorhome owners has grown immensely over the last couple of years, but the difference between the top of the range models and the basic systems are vast, and when it comes to recovering a motorhome worth tens of thousands of pounds it’s worth investing a little bit more money to get a system that works effectively.
Some of the key things to look out for when looking for a motorhome tracking device are:
1. Is it Proactive?
Proactive devices will alert you and/or your tracking device company as soon as your motorhome is disturbed by thieves, so you can inform the police and get the quickest possible recovery before the thieves do any damage. Other, non-proactive, devices rely on you noticing your motorhome has been stolen and informing the tracking company yourself, which can prove difficult if your motorhome is in storage away from your home. These devices are not always recognised by motorhome insurance companies, so check before you buy.
2. Is it monitored 24 hours a day?
There’s no point having a proactive device if there’s no one to monitor it! It is therefore vital that the device you choose comes with the backup of a 24 hour monitoring centre in the UK at least. Some devices don’t have a monitoring centre, instead these devices will simply feed location co-ordinates back to your mobile phone or laptop leaving you to liaise with the police to co-ordinate recovery yourself – the last thing you want to do, in what is an extremely stressful situation. Depending on the coverage, some devices will even have European monitoring centres in addition to their UK monitoring centre so recoveries can be co-ordinated abroad.
3. Is it approved?
Tracking devices that have been certified as Thatcham TQA for caravans & motorhomes (‘leisure vehicles’) and Sold Secure are generally regarded as the most reliable and trustworthy in the industry, though there is no one accreditation which is seen as a motorhome industry standard. If you want to find out more Thatcham and Sold Secure both have lot of information on their websites (www.thatcham.org and www.soldsecure.com) regarding how they test the effectiveness of these devices. Your insurance company may require that your tracking device is approved by one of these organisations.
4. Does it cover Europe?
If you take your motorhome to Europe, you should check that the tracking device you choose will be fully operational in the countries you plan to visit. The level of EU cover may vary between different tracking device companies. Some will simply be able to tell you the location of your motorhome when it is stolen abroad, whereas other devices will provide full European monitoring and recovery with locally accredited monitoring centres to co-ordinate police response on your behalf without you having to leave the country!
5. Will it alert you to a low battery?
If your motorhome is not used for long periods, your tracking device could run down the battery and eventually lose power altogether, rendering your tracking device useless. More advanced devices will alert you or the monitoring centre if the battery power is running low. This should give you chance to arrange for a new battery to be fitted so that your device remains operational. From an insurance point of view – it is vital that your tracker remains operational so as not to void your motorhome insurance policy.
6. What technology does it use?
Tracking devices utilise two main types of technology and both have their advantages and disadvantages. GPS (Global Position System) devices, which seem the most common, use satellites to locate a stolen vehicle to within 20 feet. VHF devices use radio wave technology. These tend to be a little less accurate in locating a stolen vehicle and often require the police or a ‘finders team’ to finish the job of locating a stolen vehicle within a defined area. However, VHF does have the advantage that it can emit a signal through metal containers and when underground (such as in underground car parks), whereas GPS devices which use satellites need a ‘line of sight’ so may not be able to give a location in those situations. A GPS device manufacturer would argue that their device will track a stolen vehicle right up to the point of going underground or into a metal container and obviously as soon as it comes out again!
It pays to do some research before you buy a motorhome tracking device as they can be costly. However, you’ll probably find that your motorhome insurance company will reward you with a substantial discount off your premium, should you choose to fit a tracking device, meaning it could pay for itself long term. Not to mention the peace of mind it will give you.