Why do I need RV or motorhome insurance?
You can call it an RV, motorhome, travel trailer or camper, but whatever you call it, getting the proper RVinsurance for your recreational vehicle can be complicated. They have many of the same insurance needs as a car, and some of the insurance needs of a home, but neither a home nor auto policy will completely cover your RV.
You’ll need a specific RV insurance policy to make sure you are fully protected from the range of potential losses and liabilities your motorhome may face. For example, if your RV is involved in a serious accident, some of the expenses you might face include vehicle repairs, medical expenses, liability (if you were at fault in the accident), lodging, and replacement of personal belongings that were lost or damaged. Only an insurance policy designed specifically for RVs and motorhomes will have the spectrum of coverages you need.
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Within the world of motorhome insurance, the kind of policy you need varies depending on how your vehicle is used. A key consideration will be whether you use the camper only seasonally for short trips, for several months at a time, or if you actually live in it full-time.
What does RV insurance cover?
Most camper insurance policies are very similar to automobile insurance. A majority of states require you to carry minimal liability coverage, but that’s a minimum amount of protection and won’t cover expenses you incur directly. Liability insurance only covers expenses of third parties who are injured or have their vehicles damaged in an accident you caused. Beyond liability coverage, you also have the option of adding several other types of protection:
- Collision coverage – Protects you if you hit, or are hit by, another vehicle or if your car rolls over.
- Comprehensive coverage – Covers you if your RV is damaged by other means, such as hitting an animal, fire, flood, theft, etc. (Note: Comprehensive coverage does not cover normal wear and tear or maintenance and repairs.)
- Personal injury protection (also called medical payments) coverage – Pays for your medical costs, loss of income, etc., if you are in an accident that is determined to be your fault.
While states don’t necessarily mandate that you carry collision or comprehensive coverage, if you have a loan on your RV, your lender will likely require you to carry one or both policies.
In addition, RV insurance usually includes what is called contents coverage. This is similar to the protection a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy provides for your personal belongings. This coverage is particularly important if you plan to live in or spend long periods of time in your motorhome – the more personal items you have in it (everything from your clothes and linens to electronics) the more it will cost to replace any items that are damaged or lost.
Note: If you have a homeowner’s policy, it may provide some limited coverage for your personal items when they are in your trailer, but if you have a large RV or use your motorhome for longer trips, it’s likely you will exceed the coverage limits of your home policy. And, of course, for full-timers who are unlikely to have a home policy, the contents coverage portion of the RV policy is crucial.
Other RV insurance options
Depending on your lifestyle and needs, there are some other optional coverages you may want to add to your RV insurance policy:
Pet coverage – If you travel with your pets, this policy option provides coverage for veterinarian bills if your pet is injured in an accident or other vehicular mishap. (Note: This is not the same as pet medical insurance and won’t cover normal checkups or illnesses. If you already have a pet insurance policy, you may not need this add-on. Check your existing policy limits for details.)
Roadside assistance – The whole point of an RV is to get off the beaten track, but doing so can mean racking up big bills if your RV breaks down and needs to be towed or repaired far from home. Consider adding a significant amount of roadside assistance coverage – motorhomes cost more to tow.
Trailer insurance coverage – If you use your RV to tow a trailer for something like a boat, golf cart or even storage, the addition of travel trailer insurance covers expenses related to damage to these items.
Trip insurance – If your RV is damaged while on a trip and you need to spend money on food, lodging, or transportation, this policy addition provides that coverage.
What does RV insurance cost?
RV insurance costs vary depending on several factors including where you live, your driving history, the make and model of the motorhome you drive, how you store it, how many days a year the vehicle is driven and, of course, how much optional coverage is included in your policy. All these factors must be considered when determining the best RV insurance to fit your needs.
Because of those variables, it’s hard to give an average cost, but a very basic camper trailer insurance policy may cost just a $100 a year, while a motorhome policy for a new, luxury model with a lot of optional coverage might run several thousand a year. In general, though, RV insurance costs less than similar auto insurance policies.
How can I get cheap RV insurance?
The old saying that you get what you pay for is true when it comes to insurance. In general, a cheap motorhome insurance policy will cover far less than the more expensive ones. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for bare bones coverage just to lower your motorhome insurance rates.
There are several things you can do to lower your RV insurance costs. You may be able to get cheaper RV insurance if you have other insurance policies – such as home or auto – with the same insurance carrier. When you are comparing RV insurance quotes, check if they offer multi-policy discounts (sometimes called multiline discounts). Bundling your insurance policies can often save you as much as 10% on your total insurance premium.
You can often get discounts for taking advantage of additional safety measures, ranging from security systems to RV-specific driver safety courses.
How you choose to pay for your policy can also affect your RV insurance rates. bring you additional discounts. Many motorhome insurance companies offer some savings if you pay your yearly premium up front instead of in monthly installments or use electronic transfers to pay your premium instead of check or credit card.
The type of deductible you choose can also help lower the cost of your RV insurance. The deductible is the amount you have to pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. For example, if your policy has a $500 deductible and you incur RV damage that costs $5,000, your insurer would pay $4,500, and you would cover the rest. If you selected a policy with a $5,000 deductible, you would get nothing.
So while a high-deductible policy offers a little less coverage, it also lowers your overall insurance costs. In general, high-deductible policies work well if you have enough savings to cover the unexpected expense of a loss and are comfortable taking on a little more risk. Low-deductible policies are a good choice if you have little savings or would just rather not have to foot the bill for a surprise expense. If you fall somewhere in between or aren’t sure what to do, the mid-level deductible generally works for most people.
There is one more choice that can reduce the cost of your RV insurance: Whether you choose an actual cash value or total replacement cost policy. Actual cash value means the policy would pay you the literal value of your RV (or its contents) at the time it was damaged or destroyed. For example, if your RV cost $20k when it was new, but was totaled three years after you bought it, an actual cash value policy would only pay out the depreciated value – you’d be on the hook to make up the difference when you buy your new RV. With a total replacement cost policy, your insurer would pay out whatever it costs to replace the totaled RV with a new, similar model.
You’ll spend a little more for total replacement cost policies because they pay out more if a loss is incurred. They may be a good choice if you have a newer motorhome. Actual cash value policies are a way to reduce the cost of RV insurance, but be aware that you will have less protection in the event of a loss.
What is the best RV insurance policy for me?
To get the best motorhome insurance for you, you first have to decide what coverage you do (or don’t) need and then find the policy that most closely matches that list. Factors to consider include:
- What sort of personal property do you keep in the RV and how much it is worth?
- How often, and where, do you plan to drive your RV? Are you likely to need trip interruption or roadside assistance protection?
- How much of the year will you use your RV? If you’re a full-time RVer, your needs will be very different than someone who only uses it in the summer. If you will use it only seasonally, how will it be stored off-season?
- Consider whether or not you’re willing to take a high deductible and pay for some damages out of pocket.
Finding a policy that fits your use of the RV is an important way to reduce your insurance costs. For example, if you store your motorhome for part of the year, your agent or broker can work with you to find a policy that provides storage coverage and temporarily halts your collision coverage, reducing your RV insurance costs.
How do I compare RV insurance quotes?
Once you’ve decided what kind and amount of coverage you need, you can start the process of getting RV insurance quotes.
Shop around with multiple carriers to get a variety of quotes. While RV insurance companies use similar data for underwriting, they use different criteria for how they assess your risk – and the lower your perceived risk of making a claim, the lower your RV insurance costs will be.
When making motorhome insurance comparisons, you should also check to see which carriers offer discounts that may apply to you. In addition to the multi-policy discounts discussed above, some carriers offer discounts for a variety of factors including military service, being a senior citizen, having no insurance claims for a defined period, and more. Each carrier can provide further details on the options they offer and who qualifies for them.
Major RV insurance carriers
At its heart, an RV is still a vehicle, and you can usually get basic insurance coverage from any carrier that sells auto insurance policies. But it’s a good idea to look into specialized RV insurance. Auto policies are designed for cars and can leave you with coverage gaps if you use one to insure an RV, which is a more complex vehicle that is used differently from a personal car. The following five companies are known for their motorhome insurance. The RV insurance policies are tailored to meet the unique needs of these vehicles ranging from travel trailers to campers to motorhomes.
Progressive – Besides coverage options such as personal and property damage liability and vacation liability, this carrier also offers nice extras such as 24/7 roadside assistance in the US and Canada
RV America Insurance – Provides total loss and personal item replacement in addition to a variety of insurance policy types so you can choose the one that best fits your specific needs
Good Sam – Has good coverage for full-time RVers and emergency expenses, and offers multi-vehicle discounts
AARP – Offered through The Hartford, these policies have many coverage options including medical payments, property damage and more, plus extra services such as a lifetime guarantee on repairs made by authorized RV specialists
Foremost – Offers towing and roadside assistance in the US and Canada, with no restrictions on age, amount of use or mileage
Actual cash value – A policy that covers only the value of a damaged or destroyed item at the time of the event
Adjuster – A professional who examines the damage to the apartment, rental home or personal property to establish the financial loss from a covered event
Carrier – The company underwriting your insurance policy
Contents coverage – A policy that offers protection to your personal belongings lost or damaged during a covered event
Covered event – Incidents including accidents, theft, fire, and water damage that are included in the coverage of a specific insurance policy
Deductible – The amount of a covered claim that must be paid by the insured person
Coverage caps – A limit on the amount of insurance benefit provided for certain items or expenses
Exclusions – Items or types of damage not covered by an insurance policy
Insurance agent or broker – The individual or agency from whom you buy your policy. They may operate independently and sell policies from many different companies, or they may work solely with one insurer.
Liability coverage – Insurance for costs incurred by a third party that was caused by the insured person’s actions or negligence
Replacement cost – A policy that covers that cost of replacing a damaged or destroyed item with a similar new item
Riders – Additional coverage for specific benefits over and above what the standard policy offers, purchased at additional cost
RV insurance – An insurance policy that covers the insured person’s recreational vehicle in addition to other expenses related to liability and accidents