A motorized RV serves a dual purpose: Transportation and lodging. RV owners must decide not only how to deck out their new vehicles but also how to insure them.
Just as with cars, you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to insurance for RVs.
What Is RV Insurance?
RV insurance covers financial losses when your RV is involved in an incident that causes injuries or property damage. Here are two types of RV insurance.
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Full-time RV insurance
Full-time RV insurance is for people who use their RV as a permanent residence. This means living in a motorhome or travel trailer for at least six months out of the year. Full-time coverage typically provides:
- Comprehensive coverage and collision coverage for your RV. This coverage, which often goes together, helps pay to repair or replace your vehicle if it’s stolen or damaged due to a problem like a car accident, fire, flood, falling objects, hail and vandalism.
- Personal liability protection covers you for property damage and bodily injuries you accidentally cause to others.
- Medical payments coverage to help pay for injuries that happen near or in your RV.
- Loss assessment coverage helps pay association fees if you’re parked in a location with an association that needs to make repairs to common areas.
Part-time RV insurance
Part-time RV insurance, also called recreational RV insurance, is for people who don’t use an RV as their permanent residence.
This coverage includes vacation liability coverage that helps with injuries and damages in or around your RV for short trips. You can also purchase additional optional coverage that’s found in full-time RV insurance.
Is RV Insurance Required?
If your RV is a motorhome—essentially a portable place to live that’s equipped with a steering wheel—you’re required to buy coverage in every state except New Hampshire and Virginia. Those two states also do not mandate coverage for vehicles, although buying auto insurance is still a good idea in these states.
If you’re able to tow your RV behind your car using a towable camper or a trailer, you may not need separate RV insurance coverage. In this situation, your car insurance policy may also provide coverage for the RV, and you may be able to find cheaper car insurance options that include RV coverage. Additional coverage is available solely for towable RVs, though.When you finance the purchase of a motorhome, the lender typically requires liability insurance and comprehensive and collision coverage.
Keep in mind that when you finance the purchase of a motorhome, the lender typically requires liability auto insurance and comprehensive and collision coverage, according to Gigi Stetler, founder and CEO of South Florida’s RV Sales of Broward.
Is insurance required if I’m renting the RV?
You’re required to buy liability insurance in nearly all states if you’re driving the RV, but it’s wise to get more than the minimum mandated coverage. Going solely with liability coverage won’t protect your vehicle in a crash or if the RV is stolen. You need collision coverage to help pay for repairs caused by accidents and comprehensive coverage helps for other types of damage and theft.
Car insurance policies may include driving-related coverage for renting an RV. Check with your insurance company to see if your policy provides that protection or if you need to get additional coverage for the RV.
What Does RV Insurance Cover?
RV insurance generally mirrors the coverage types you can buy on your car.
- Liability insurance pays others when you cause injuries or property damage. It also covers your legal defense if you’re sued.
- Comprehensive coverage pays for vehicle theft or from damage related to weather, fire, vandalism, falling objects and wild animals.
- Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle caused by a vehicle crash or a run-in with an object like a tree or utility pole.
Even if you’re not required to get insurance for an RV, it’s good to have it. Insurance protects your finances if you’re sued over an accident, and coverage such as personal injury protection pays for injuries to yourself and your passengers.
Optional coverage for RVs includes:
- Total loss replacement coverage, which pays to replace your RV with a similar make and model if it’s totaled.
- Actual cash value coverage, which offers the replacement value minus depreciation.
- Coverage of injuries caused by uninsured and underinsured motorists.
- Campsite and vacation coverage, which pays for injuries or damage you cause to other people or their property when you’re using your RV for leisure travel.
- Emergency expenses. For example, you might be reimbursed for a hotel stay if your RV is seriously damaged in a crash.
- Accessories coverage for awnings, satellite dishes and other items.
- “Full-timer coverage” if you use an RV as a full-time residence.
- Roadside assistance, such as towing and jump-starts.
Roadside assistance is one of the most popular add-ons for RV insurance, according to Paige Bouma, a spokesperson for Trader Interactive, an online marketplace for new and used RVs.
“RVers find it comforting to know they have 24/7 access to experts who can come and help them should any issues arise,” Bouma says. “Many people forget that driving an RV is not exactly like operating a car. On some RVs, changing a tire is more like changing an 18-wheeler tire than one on your SUV.”
Stetler says some RV owners wrongly assume that standard RV insurance covers roadside assistance.
“If the problem involves your RV’s maintenance, like a dead battery or running out of gas, your insurance company won’t dirty their hands with you, which is why you may want to consider a roadside assistance plan,” Stetler says.
How Much Does RV Insurance Cost?
The average cost of RV insurance is $1,500 a year, according to Trusted Choice, a group for independent insurance agents. Part-time RV insurance can cost as little as $200 per year while full-time RV insurance can cost as much as $3,000 per year.
The cost of RV insurance varies. Bouma says it depends on factors like:
- Whether the RV is new or used
- Where you live
- Whether you’re using the RV for road trips or as a residence-on-the-road
- What type of RV you own
When you’re buying RV insurance, an insurer will take into consideration which class your RV falls into: A, B or C. Class A encompasses the biggest motorized RVs (which look like tour buses), Class B comprises the smallest motorized RVs (around the size of a van) and Class C sits between those two.
“If your insurance agent has the ability to add an RV to your personal auto insurance, it is typically less expensive than purchasing a special RV policy,” says Melanie Arnold, new business manager at Evans Ewan & Brady Insurance Agency in Georgetown, Texas. “However, the coverage for the RV would be more basic and less specialized than if you do purchase a special RV policy.”
The annual insurance premium for an RV can range from less than $200 to more than $2,000, according to Arnold. As with auto insurance, RV insurance has a deductible, which is the amount of money (like $500 or $1,000) subtracted from a claim payout if you make a comprehensive or collision insurance claim.
Bouma points out that an insurer might offer discounts for RV insurance, such as rewarding you for maintaining a clean driving record or for holding another policy with the same insurer (known as bundling).
RV Insurance Discounts
Discounts that may be available with RV insurance include:
- Bundling policies: Buying multiple types of insurance from the same company can save money. That may include bundling auto insurance with home insurance, renters insurance or condo insurance.
- Good driver: If you have no accidents on your recent driving record, you could be eligible for a good driver discount.
- Pay in full: Paying off your insurance bill in one lump sum can get you a discount.
- RV association: You may qualify for a discount if you belong to an RV association.
- RV safety course: Insurers may reduce your cost if you complete an RV safety course.
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