Evaluate the pros and cons of insurance through an RV insurance company versus your auto insurer.
Is it really so important where your recreational vehicle (RV) insurance comes from? Absolutely! There are huge differences between coverage from your auto insurer or a company that only covers RVs, and it could end up costing you tens of thousands if you make the wrong choice.
Whether you’ve just purchased your own personal ticket to the open road, or you’ve owned an RV or travel trailer for a while, it’s important to know exactly what your insurance will cover.
How an Auto Insurance Company Policy Protects Your RV
Most any company that covers your car will sell you a policy for your motorhome, travel trailer or fifth wheel. It’s easy to call an agent or go online and add another vehicle, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the cost. This insurance is enough to satisfy the financial institution carrying your loan. But what are you getting for your money?
Not a whole lot, as it turns out. Full coverage includes collision and comprehensive insurance, the same as with your car. However, with RV trailers, your auto policy already covers collision insurance. So, all that you’re getting on the trailer itself is comprehensive coverage.
Comprehensive coverage kicks in when your RV gets stolen, a tree falls on it, a bear gets inside and wreaks havoc, or lightening starts a fire. Phew. What else could go wrong? Well, that payout could be a lot smaller than you were expecting: The auto insurance company will depreciate the value of your RV, and it won’t pay a thing for its contents.
Furthermore, auto insurance companies expect you to store your RV during the off-season, and they consider that reduced likelihood of damage in your premium. If they discover that you are living in your RV, they can drop you faster than a lead balloon.
Situations Not Covered or Only Partially Covered by an Auto Insurer’s RV Policy
- Your sweet golden retriever finds the only dog in the world he hates in the next campsite, and attacks it. Not covered.
- Your grandchild with the great pitching arm tests his aim and triumphs, sending a rock through the window of the most expensive RV in the park. Not covered.
- The breaded pork chops you were frying go rogue, and the resulting grease fire turns your RV into ashes. The titanium fishing rod you just bought, the fancy waders and antique tackle are destroyed. Contents aren’t covered. Your RV will be covered only at replacement value, which can be halved in as little as three years.
It’s important to cover what an auto insurer’s standard RV policy probably doesn’t cover:
Four Travel Trailers to Try
Winter is around the corner, and that means it’s time to find a great sale on an RV for next year. More and more, seniors are opting for a travel trailer instead of a full-size, gas-guzzling rig. Easy to park and smaller than their drivable cousins, camping trailers are the RV equivalent of the tiny house. Here are four stylish models that Sunset magazine picked as 2017’s best:
1. Homegrown Trailer (from $26,500)
This modern take on a classic bullnose shape has a pullout queen bed, twin extra-long bunks, mini fridge, induction cooktop, cork floors, composting toilet, cedar siding, wool insulation and a pop top. Solar panels charge lithium-ion batteries to power dimmable lights and USB ports. At 2,500 pounds, a Nissan Murano V6 or similar has adequate towing strength.
2. Timberleaf Trailers (from $17,650)
Who can resist this teardrop trailer loaded with extras like birch-wood cabinetry, generous galley counter space, plumbing, skylight, cooler and stove pullouts? The queen mattress sleeps two, and your Subaru Outback has plenty of power to pull 1,400 pounds. Add a battery that charges while you drive or via the sun, LED lights and USB ports, and you’ll never want to call anything else home.
3. HC1 by Happier Camper (from $18,950)
This ultralight weighs only 1,100 pounds but manages to sleep five, thanks to modular components that turn into a queen bed, dinette, storage space, pullout fridge and freezer, two-burner cooktop, outdoor seating, and solar-heated exterior shower with shatterproof glass in a light, fiberglass shell. Your Mini Cooper Countryman can tow the HC1 in style, including solar powered dimmable LED lights, iPad dock and exterior AC inlet.
4. Basecamp by Airstream (from $35,900)
If luxury is your thing and campgrounds are your game, try the Basecamp with heater, seamless vinyl flooring, china toilet, exterior shower, retractable clothesline, flexible seating and a patio awning. Only two of you will fit on the queen bed that converts to a banquette, but who cares when you have a wireless speaker, solar panel wiring, LED lights and USB ports. Oh, and you’ll need a Toyota 4Runner or similar because all that bling weighs 2,585 pounds.
- Liability, such as damage to a neighboring vehicle or backing into or over something.
- Personal injury, like a dog bite or someone taking a tumble as they enter or exit your RV.
- Personal possessions, such as firearms, jewelry, dishes and clothes in the RV.
- Full replacement cost. Instead, the auto insurance policy will only cover the depreciated value of your RV.
The reason an auto policy is so inexpensive is it only covers the vehicle itself, and only at its depreciated value.
Who Needs To Use an RV Insurance Company?
If you only take your older RV out for the rare weekend, it’s possible that a policy from your auto insurance company will suffice. You can buy additional coverage for big-ticket items, such as an extended warranty on the refrigerator and an insurance rider for the tires. But if you have a newer RV, particularly if you live in it, you shouldn’t think of hitting the gas until you’re covered by an RV insurance company.
If you use your RV as your permanent residence, you need a policy that covers you like a homeowner. You should have riders for contents, personal liability, replacement cost coverage and possessions you have in storage. Will it cost more than the skimpier package offered at an auto insurer? Of course. It’s your home on wheels, and riskier to insure than a house since, unlike a stick and brick residence, it is often moving.
Evaluating RV Insurers
Who can you go to for RV-specific insurance? The following companies will give you a free quote online:
- Foremost Insurance Group
- Good Sam VIP Insurance
- Camping World RV & Automotive Insurance
- RV America Insurance
You will appreciate going with a national company that has multiple locations when a moose has tangled with your trailer in the backwoods of Wyoming, or anywhere parts and service may be hard to find.
You can compare quotes on sites such as Consumer’s Advocate. But beware, not all of the companies they are comparing are RV-only insurers. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples in terms of the coverage you are getting.
Price is the first thing that narrows down your choices, but service is a consideration. Will they pay for you to take your RV to the nearest shop when it breaks down in the boondocks? Is there a 24/7 helpline for emergencies?
Lastly, don’t ignore the value of online reviews. Make your top two or three picks, and check the company reviews before deciding who will get your business.
“Compare RV Insurance Reviews,” Consumer Affairs.
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors