What every informed consumer needs to know...
Are you considering investing in a recreational vehicle? Do you often daydream about packing the family into a motorhome and taking that trip to Yellowstone you’ve always wanted? When you’re at work, do you spend most of your time making pros and cons lists to help decide between a Fleetwood or a Winnebago? In the silences between words and moments, is your head filled by the sound of the road calling your name?
Well good, I’m glad the road is calling your name. But, the road isn’t only calling your name. It’s also calling, “Hey man, there are other people on me as well, and they might crash into you or steal all your stuff while you and the kids are at the lake. You have to be prepared!” Whether you’re a weekend warrior, a snowbird or a full-timer, you’re gonna need RV insurance. It’s very similar to regular auto insurance, so don’t be intimidated. You just need to make sure you understand the various coverage types so you can purchase an insurance policy catered to your RV usage. Use our guide to learn exactly how RV insurance works, so you can stop worrying about liability and deductibles, and start worrying about that sweet retractable awning you’re going to install.
Recreational vehicles are just another type of automobile, and therefore must be covered as such. You likely already have and are familiar with car insurance, but let’s go over the various policy options. Certain coverages are required by state law, so determining what’s required in your state is the first step to building your policy. Beyond the minimum legal requirements, you can increase your coverage limits for greater reimbursement potential.
Liability Insurance: Liability insurance pays for injuries and property damage of the other party if you were the cause of the accident. It does not cover your own injuries or property. A certain amount of liability insurance is required in almost every state, but if you can afford more it’s generally a good idea to have liability that is above the minimum to ensure sufficient coverage.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP): Also known as “no-fault coverage”, this type of coverage is only available in no-fault states, meaning blame is not placed on either driver in particular during an accident. PIP will pay for your injuries regardless of who caused the accident, and generally pays your medical expenses until your benefits limits are exhausted. From there, any health insurance you have would take over.
Collision: For accident damages to your vehicle to be covered, collision coverage is necessary. With this coverage, your vehicle is insured for any physical damage that your car sustains when it comes into contact with another vehicle, as well as when you hit another object. Keep in mind that collision coverage doesn’t cover all damage, so read your policy to see what falls under the terms of coverage.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist: If you are in an accident with an uninsured driver and you don’t have PIP or collision coverage, you would have to pay your own medical and repair bills. With uninsured motorist coverage, those expenses would be covered in the event that the other party has insufficient or no insurance. This type of coverage is also required in many states.
Comprehensive: Comprehensive insurance covers damages and losses from incidents other than a collision. This would include things like theft, vandalism, glass damage (broken windshield, side mirror, etc.), damage sustained from an animal or falling object, fire, and more. Only covered perils listed in your policy will be paid for, so make sure you know what’s in the policy before signing a contract.
The benefits limits of all these coverage types are determined by a combination of state law and the cash value of your vehicle. If damages were to exceed your benefit limits, all of the funds beyond the cap would be your responsibility. All states have different requirements, but as an example your state may impose insurance limits of 25/50/10. This means the policy would pay up to $25,000 for a single person’s injuries in an accident you cause, $50,000 for bodily injury for all occupant’s injuries, and up to $10,000 for damage to the other driver’s property. The numbers set by the state would be the minimum, and the ceiling for coverage is dependent upon the value of your vehicle.
This is where you’ll see the coverage and additional add-ons that are only applicable to a recreational vehicle, but first we need to go over RV classes. Motorhomes are broken down into three distinct classes based on size, features and capability: Class A, B, and C. The coverage you need and the amount you’ll pay is largely determined by the class of your RV.
Class A: These are the most luxurious of the bunch and considered the best in the world. Class A motorhomes are big, powerful, and very expensive. They feature all the comforts of home, with full bathrooms, master bedrooms, practical kitchens, and so much more. Structurally, they’re built on heavy-duty frames like a commercial truck or bus, but some of the nicest are built on a customized chassis.
Class B: Also known as “van conversions” or “camper vans,” these RVs are the most limited in size and amenities. They’re typically built using a cargo or camper van as the base, with a roof high enough to stand up inside. Occupancy is usually limited to between two and four people.
Class C: Commonly referred to as “mini-motorhomes,” Class C recreational vehicles usually have a van or truck chassis with an attached cab to accommodate more people and amenities. They have many of the same features as the more luxurious Class A motorhome, but smaller and more economical. You can consider them the happy medium between the extravagance of Class A vehicles and the practicality of Class B vehicles.
Now that we’ve covered classes we can dive into all of the coverage options specific to RV owners. Not all of these coverage types are necessary, as many only apply to individuals who are constantly on the road and/or living out of their RV. What you actually need from the list below will depend on how and when you use your recreational vehicle. Let’s take a look at some of the RV-specific coverage types.
Full-Timer Coverage: If you live in your RV year-round or a majority of the year, this coverage combines elements of auto and home insurance plans to ensure you get the most comprehensive policy available. However not all insurance companies offer this, in which case you would have to mix and match the other coverage types to make sure you have all your bases covered.
Full Replacement: In the event that your RV is totaled in an accident or stolen, this coverage add-on means the insurance company will pay for a comparable replacement. Some offer purchase price replacement, but this is usually only if you bought your vehicle new. Otherwise, most companies will cover the fair market value of your RV.
Personal Belongings: This coverage type is especially important for full-timers or people who spend a considerable amount of time in their RV. You’ll likely carry many personal items in the vehicle, so usually this covers your personal property up to a certain dollar amount ($5,000 is common). However, if you keep a bunch of expensive items in your RV (computers, TVs, jewelry, etc.) it’s definitely worth increasing this value in your policy to make sure you’re safe in the event that your personal property is damaged or stolen.
Vacation Liability: this will pay for bodily injury and property damage losses that occurs at the vacation site where your RV is parked. Depending on the insurance company, this is automatically included with your comprehensive and/or collision coverage, but it’s not always clear. Make sure to ask about vacation liability, because it may be an additional add-on requirement.
Permanently Attached Items: Many consumers choose to make additions to their recreational vehicle, and those additions are not always covered under the personal belongings section of your policy. This would cover things such as satellite dishes, a wheelchair lift, retractable canopy, etc.
Beyond these, there are other more specific and niche coverage add-ons available. For example, if you take the RV across the border into Canada or Mexico, there are some insurance companies which have specific coverage for that. Another common insurance add-on is an emergency expense allowance, which helps pay for random travel expenses that come up while on the road. Every company has different RV-specific coverage available, which is why it’s important to know how you plan on using your vehicle to make sure everything you need is in your policy.
How a company treats its customers says a lot about a business. RV insurance is no different. You want to make sure you choose a company with a proven track record of customer service excellence. We suggest visiting the dedicated customer service page on the websites of the insurance companies you’re looking at so as to make it easier to compare and contrast all of the services available.
Filing a claim isn’t fun. Nobody wants to file an insurance claim. However, the ease of doing so can go a long way toward your overall satisfaction, and some companies make it easier than others. 24/7 claim submission is common, which is definitely a perk for consumers. Filing a claim over the phone is standard, but more and more agencies are starting to emphasize the use of an online portal. Using the portal, you can file claims, review open and previous claims, and get in touch with a customer service representative with the click of a button. Most of our Top 10 RV insurance companies have an online contact form you can use to reach a service representative, but some even have live chat support, which makes it easier and faster than ever to get the answer to any questions you may have.
Other perks to take into consideration would be things like roadside assistance, towing/repairs, local insurance agents, and more. Research all of this, and then select the insurance company that is most in line with your needs. Might as well make the insurance process as easy and stress-free as possible!
The cost of RV insurance varies greatly based on several key factors, the first being the class of your recreational vehicle. Class A models require the most expensive coverage, followed by Class C. Class B vehicles are the least costly to ensure. Keep in mind that the age and condition of your RV will change the cost of coverage as well. How often you use the RV is another major factor in your premium costs. A family who uses the RV once or twice per year for vacation is going to pay a lot less than someone who lives in the RV full-time. Not only that, but how far you travel is important. Since you will experience more potential hazards spending an entire month on the road while covering thousands of miles, it would cost much more to ensure that vehicle than a family that just takes their RV to the nearest state park for a weekend.
RV insurance is essentially a specific kind of automobile insurance with some unique coverage additions, and therefore is subject to the same criteria as regular car insurance. Your rate will be affected by where you live, gender and age of the insured, driving history, credit score, and much more. Even taking into account all of the factors outlined above, the typical cost will still ultimately depend on the type of coverage you get and where you set your benefit limits.
Aside from premiums, the other cost to consider is your deductible. The deductible is the amount you’re responsible for paying before the insurance policy will take over. If your vehicle requires $3,000 in repairs and your deductible is set at $500, the insurance company would be responsible for the $2,500 difference (assuming the needed repairs are covered by your policy). If your car only requires $350 in repairs to fix something minor, you would be responsible for all of it. In most cases, you are responsible for setting the deductible amount. Your overall costs will be lower if you select a high deductible, but that also means you will have higher out-of-pocket costs in the event that you file a claim.
So as you can see, RV insurance is highly personalized as well as customizable, so pinning down a predicted total cost is difficult. Class A vehicles will generally cost around $2,000 or more to ensure, whereas a Class B vehicle could cost you $700 in annual premiums. You’ll need to get an accurate quote from an insurance company before you can really understand how much it will cost you.
If you’re looking to save, an easy way to do so is to inquire about discounts. Many companies selling auto insurance sell RV insurance as well, and will offer a major discount if you ensure your primary vehicle and your RV with them. Other common discounts include a safe driver discount, paid-in-full (lower premiums if the vehicle is already paid off), storage discount, and discounts for vehicles featuring anti-theft technology or other vehicle safety measures. Feel free to browse our Top 10 RV insurance companies to get a better sense of the different discounts offered.
When shopping for insurance policies (of any kind), it becomes apparent very quickly that everyone is basically selling the same product; maybe with some different bells and whistles, but insurance is insurance. How do you choose between insurance companies who are selling almost the exact same policy for almost the same price? Reviews written by consumers can be a huge help in that regard. You can read comments and feedback from individuals who have firsthand experience with the policies and company you’re researching. Here are some helpful tips you can use to browse RV insurance reviews more effectively.