Thursday, 8 September 2016

The campervan

Well, it seemed simple enough.  A flute-playing friend of mine announced that she was in Le Mans, and her holiday route was taking her to Brittany.   She'd be passing by our place, so why not drop in for a coffee and a natter, maybe play some duets?

You know that things aren't going to be that simple, when she pulls up and you think "Ah, there she is...... what's that smell of petrol?"   Her car (a conversion to a campervan) bumped the gate stop in our drive, and the part of the car that hit it was the petrol tank, that split.  Petrol pouring out, an emergency bucket brigade was implemented to get the fuel to safety.

The car had been converted for wheelchair access (lowered) and then converted to a campervan.  As a result, it has a bespoke fuel tank that is the lowest part of the car at certain points.   A car with a broken petrol tank is going nowhere fast, but we got it to the nearest garage by means of a transporter.

Fortunately we could put my friend up for a few days while we navigated the nightmare of mutliple insurance companies, and decision trees trying to work out what to do in this event or that event, all while trying to get the car diagnosed and fixed.   The insurance companies were interesting too.  What do you think about a company that insures campervans, offers a "European Extension" to the policy, that offers you a hire car if needs be.... as long as your car is being sorted in an "Approved Garage"..... of which there are none in mainland Europe.  Ha!  Gotcha!   We did eventually get a hire car out of a different insurer, after multiple phone calls and three broken promises that they would call back.

We learn that welding metal petrol tanks is a slow undertaking: at least in France, you have to have a special approval as a welder, and rules require that the tank be washed thoroughly before any work can start, a process that takes a fortnight.   And today we are told that no welder here or in the surrounding towns is prepared to take on the job.

So at the moment, the car is in the garage awaiting a decision from the insurers as to whether it's going to get a new bespoke tank sent from England, or be repatriated.  Perhaps other options are under consideration.

My friend is currently enjoying the use of a higher hire car and is continuing her holiday in Brittany.


James Higham said...

Sounds an utter nightmare, Mark.

CherryPie said...

I can quite sympathise with insurance red tape.

I have been struggling with the same after a small impact to the rear of my car a few weeks ago...

At least the car has been returned fixed today :-)

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