No one likes to think about insurance. But whether you are heading out for a vacation or live in an RV full-time, insurance is something that you need to consider.
Many times people are tempted to just get the cheapest or quickest coverage just to get that task over with so they can move on to more fun travel plans, but having the wrong insurance or being underinsured for what you are wanting to do can lead to trouble if you end up needing to call on your insurance policy.
Recently I had the opportunity to ask my insurance agent some questions about RV insurance, and in particular what might be needed for full-time RVers. Although our particular insurance company does not cover full-time RVers, he offered some sage advice and things to consider when looking for an insurance policy.
Q: What is your number one piece of advice to give to someone looking for RV insurance?
A: Be honest and truthful about your plans, your needs, and what needs to be covered. An insurance agent can’t read your mind and has no idea if you plan to travel with that priceless piece of art, an expensive bike, or are going out of country.
Q: Is an RV considered a vehicle or a residence? Are contents covered or just the vehicle?
A: For many policies, the RV is covered off of the RV insurance and any personal property inside the RV would be extended from your home insurance policy. In the case you have no home or renters policy and the RV is your only home, you would want to talk with your insurance company to make sure they add personal property to your policy and that it would be covered if a loss occurred in your RV.
Q: What are some of the biggest mistakes you see people make in terms of RV/motorhome/camper insurance coverage?
A: Not checking with your insurance carrier to see how your policy works in the event of a claim. Not all insurers who cover RVs, camping trailers, or motorhomes are designed to cover them if they are your primary residence.
It is important to check with your carrier to find out if they provide personal liability coverage and coverage for your contents. Additional living expense (money to live somewhere else while your trailer/motorhome is being repaired) is another important consideration if this is your primary home.
Another important question to ask is, “What kind of towing/road service coverage does my policy provide?” A tow for an RV can become expensive quickly. A robust towing coverage can be a huge plus.
Q: What insurance considerations should you be thinking of if you are looking to sell your home and become a full-time RVer? How would typical “homeowner’s liability” work for something like a dog bite or a fire or theft?
A: Personal liability is an important (and usually relatively inexpensive) coverage that would want to continue carrying. This shouldn’t be confused with the automobile liability (bodily injury, property damage, uninsured, and underinsured motorist coverage) which you are required by law to carry in order to operate your vehicle on public roads.
Ideally, your liability limits would be greater than or equal to your net worth. Personal liability traditionally will cover defense costs and damages for dog bites. Though some policies exclude certain breeds and have a reduced limit for dog bite claims. This is another good reason to talk with your company to confirm what your policy will cover.
Q: How is full-time nomadic RV insurance affected as you move between states, or other countries (travel to Canada, for example)?
A: Again, it comes back to your policy. Insurance is regulated differently in each state and it will be up to your policy contract.
Q: What additional coverage should people consider that would not fall under a typical policy?
A: Most home insurance policies settle losses on a replacement cost basis. This means that if there is a loss, the insurance company will replace the item at today’s cost and not depreciate the item based on its age. Most auto insurance companies settle on an actual cash value basis. Actual cash value is not as desirable as the insurance company will pay what your “used” item was worth.
Some companies will settle trailers/motorhomes on a replacement cost basis. This coverage may only be available for the first several model years but it is worth asking about as it can make a significant difference at claim time.
For expensive items, such as jewelry, art, expensive bikes, ATVs, etc, you should disclose these items to your agent so they can determine if you might need additional insurance riders for these expensive items.
Q: What discounts might be available?
A: Depending on the type of policy, your credit rating and driving record are still major factors that determine the rate. In addition, discounts may be available for things like garaging location or multiple policy bundling (ie home, life, auto).
Q: How is liability handled for things like injuries resulting from someone tripping on the picnic table at your RV spot (that isn’t yours, but may or may not be part of a formal campground)? Bear damage?
A: This is another example of why you want to carry personal liability coverage. People can sue you for many reasons…even for things you don’t feel you are responsible for.
The job of your personal liability insurance is to defend you against lawsuits, frivolous or legitimate. Bear damage losses would be covered as long as you carry comprehensive coverage on your auto policy.
Q: If there is a total loss or someone steals your RV and it is your primary residence, what would be covered?
A: Again, this comes back to the type of policy you carry. As long as you carry comprehensive coverage, the theft of your RV would be covered. As long as you elected to include personal property on your policy, contents would be covered too.
Q: What other recommendations would you give to people when they are looking to find a policy for either a full-time RVer or recreational RVer?
A: Another “auto” related coverage is personal injury protection (PIP) or med pay (depending on your state). If you carry a high deductible on your health insurance plan, having increased medical payments coverage on your auto policy can be valuable. The medical payments coverage will only pay if there is an auto-related injury but is an option worth exploring.
Check with your insurance agent to ask about their coverage options for your RVing needs, or visit the consumer advocate website for a list of companies that offer insurance plans specifically for full-time RVers.