Want to get away from it all and still have the comforts of home? You’re not alone, Google Trends shows that searches for the term RV rental has doubled compare to the last two years and RV purchase has seen a large uptick as well.
Going on the road with an RV is the goal of millions of Americans, both those who take their vacations in motorhomes, also known as recreational vehicles or RVs, or those renting one for the first time. Before you hit the open road, however, it’s a good idea to check the insurance coverage for the RV.
“Most auto insurance companies have restrictions on how they cover motor homes,” says Bert Alanko, owner of Phoenix-based MBA Insurance, a premier RV-rental insurance agency.
Insurers treat RVs differently than passenger cars or SUVs. The cost of RVs and the potential for extensive physical damage in an accident mean the ordinary coverage minimums that apply to passenger cars are too low. Additionally, because many RVs are driven by people who aren’t accustomed to the extra size and length, insurers believe there is a greater risk for accidents.
Many car insurance companies offer RV-specific insurance policies to cover your vehicle, its contents and the perils that are specific to motor homes.
Buying an RV brings auto insurance challenges
If you decide to buy a motorhome, you may encounter some of the same issues as if you rented. Not all car insurance companies are prepared to insure a motorhome year-round, even if they offer temporary insurance to rent one.
“However, you may want to look into a specialty RV insurance policy,” Alanko says. “These policies provide coverage for items and areas that car insurance often does not cover, such as your belongings, increased towing, vacation liability and replacement cost.”
What does RV insurance cover?
The main basic coverages offered for a motorhome or RV insurance policy are:
Liability coverage – Bodily injury and property damage liability, just as you have with a regular auto policy, comes with an RV policy. Liability covers damage that you may do to others for injuries (medical bills) and their property, such as another vehicle, fence or guardrail, if you are at-fault in an accident.
Uninsured motorist coverage – Again like your auto policy this would cover if an uninsured driver is at-fault in an accident and injuries you, you can claim for medical bills.
Medical Payments (MedPay)- Regardless of fault, MedPay will pay medical expenses for you and household members that are injured in an auto accident that the RV is in.
Comprehensive – Provides coverage for damage to the RV from things “other than collision” such as fire, theft, vandalism, striking an animal, hail and other weather related damages.
Collision – Covers the RV if you hit, or are hit by, another vehicle or object or if you roll the RV.
Additional offerings some RV insurers have cover:
Custom equipment – Covers equipment not original to the RV and aftermarket parts that are used.
Replacement cost/personal effects – Coverage for the personal property within your RV and certain items you may keep or use outside.
Awning replacement – Replaces an awing destroyed in a covered loss with a new awning.
Safety glass – Repairs or replaces the windshield.
Vacation liability – Offers liability coverage (bodily injury and property damage) while your RV is being used as a temporary residence. For instance, if you’re on vacationing and someone is hurt in or around your RV this would cover their injuries up to a limit you choose.
Full-time liability – Similar to vacation liability it covers if someone is injured in or around your RV, but when you’re using the RV as your permanent residence.
Roadside Assistance – Offerings vary but, in general, provides towing up to a certain number of miles (100 or stated amount in policy) and emergency roadside services, such as battery service, changing flat tires, lockout service, delivery of supplies such as water, oil or fuel.
Full-time and vacation liability are different than standard bodily injury liability as with the latter, the injuries are caused when the RV is on the roadway and you cause an accident. These other two coverage are more similar to the “guest medical” coverage that home insurance policies typically have.
RV insurance misconceptions
Some people believe that the personal property in their RV will be covered under their home insurance policy. While this is true up to a point, home insurance coverage is limited when the property is kept somewhere other than the “residence premises,” such as your personal car or your RV. Your car and homeowners policies may not cover such items as appliances, plumbing or accessories. Without proper RV insurance, paying for damage could come out of your own pocket.
RV insurance combines the protections offered by both home and auto insurance policies. That includes coverage for losses due to fire, smoke, theft, vandalism, landslides, hail, windstorms and collision. It also provides coverage for your personal property, emergency-expense coverage such as lodging and campsite/vacation liability coverage — which protects you if you use your motor home as a residence. It should also cover awnings, satellite dishes and other attached accessories. Additional coverage can be obtained if your RV is used as a semi-permanent residence for most of the year.
As with standard home and auto policies, RV policies renew each year. A car insurance quote for an RV is based a variety of factors, which can vary by state regulations and insurance companies internal guidelines. Common risk factors for RV insurance are:
- The type of motorhome you have.
- The size of your motorhome
- The age of your motorhome
- Where you live
- Address of where RV will be parked (if different than your home address)
- How much you drive (annual mileage put on RV)
- Use – Will it be a vacation RV or permanent resident?
- Your driving record
- Your age
- Your gender
Many car insurance insurance companies offer discounts for maintaining a good driving record or buying multiple policies with the same insurer. So having your RV insurance with your auto insurance company can earn you a multi-policy discount. If you also bundle your home insurance with the same company you may receive an even higher discount. You can also reduce your RV insurance premium by increasing your deductible. You take on more risk for paying a higher deductible for your collision and comprehensive portions of your policy and so pay lower rates for that portion of your policy.
What does RV insurance cost?
How much you will pay for RV insurance will vary based on the risk factors discussed above. One of the main items the insurer will look at is the type, size and age of your motorhome. The larger your vehicle, the more you’ll pay as there is more risk being taken on by the insurance company.
If you have a travel trailer or fifth-wheel, it will cost less to insure then a motorhome that you drive — a Class A, Class B and Class C. Class A is the biggest and will normally cost the most to insure. Coverage costs will also vary based on what you choose for your coverages, limits and deductibles. Progressive advertises RV insurance policies as low as $125 annually; however,the national average is around $1,500 for a full time RV insurance policy, according to Overland Insurance Services.
To find out how much it will cost you to insure an RV, you first will need to find the type and size you are going to insure. Next shop around to get quotes based on your specific situation to find the range of rates available to you. If you’re purchasing an RV for the first time, make sure to include the cost of insurance in your overall RV budget.
Auto insurance for a rented RV
If you are renting an RV, you’ll need to make sure you have adequate insurance. RV rental companies offer insurance, but it might not be the best deal,especially if your auto policy will cover you. Here are some of the things to watch for when renting an RV:
Does your current car insurance policy extend to the rented RV? It might, but to find out contact your car insurance company as that will be easier than finding and reading through pages of your auto policy. Your company can also give you particulars if you do have coverage, such as how much and for how long does the coverage last. Some policies’ RV coverage runs out after 30 days. Ask questions as better to make change to your policy now to protect yourself than find out you’re short coverage after an accident. Such as will your collision coverage extend higher limits for an RV or, more likely, will it top out at the value of your insured vehicle, thus without supplemental coverage leave you possibly owing thousands.
Is there any RV insurance included in the rental price? Even if your car insurance coverage extends to the RV, you may have coverage that is built into the cost of renting the RV. If not and your auto policy doesn’t cover you or has low protection, does a standalone policy make sense? Depending on your RV model, insurance could cost you $20 per day for a small RV with low coverage and up to $40 or more per day or more for a larger model or for better coverage.
What is the deductible amount? Most RV insurance deductibles start at $500 and go as high as $5,000. How much are you willing to pay out of pocket if you have to make a claim?
Is the liability coverage adequate? Most states require motorists to carry liability insurance. Remember an RV is bigger and bulkier and thus can do more damage than your sedan or even SUV. Make sure your policy has adequate coverage for collision and comprehensive, too.
Is the dealer’s policy primary or secondary? “If you are involved in an at-fault accident, a primary policy pays claims to the policy limits,” Alanko says. “If the dealer is covered by a secondary policy then your personal auto policy will be asked to respond first as ‘primary’ coverage, then the dealer’s policy will respond as ‘secondary’ coverage. That means that the RV rental policy will not respond until your own policy had exhausted its limits.”
Are the liability limits high enough? Remember that a fender-bender in a 27-foot motorhome could cost $10,000, compared to $1,000 or $2,000 for a similar accident in your sedan!
Are you covered for towing? Half the fun of an RV vacation is traveling to remote areas far from fast-food franchises, motels and repair shops. If you have a breakdown 60 miles from the nearest mechanic, the bill for an oversize wrecker to come get you could be pretty high. Most RV rental policies do not provide towing coverage for breakdowns. Ask your insurer or renting agency if it has a towing program.
Does the policy exclude drivers under age 25? Some policies include a flat-out exclusion. Others give the renting facility leeway in determining whether a younger driver is mature enough to handle the vehicle. If your policy excludes a younger driver, an accident that occurs while the excluded driver is behind the wheel won’t be covered. Also, check to see if your spouse or others you may want to share the driving responsibilities are included or you are as the named person on the policy.
Are you covered for medical expenses if someone is injured? Check the medical payment and personal injury provisions of the policy. Some rental policies exclude medical payments and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Some exclude uninsured motorist coverage.
Does your credit card cover an RV rental? Probably not. It’s rare to see a credit card cover a recreation vehicle, in fact most make a point of excluding it. You can check with your credit card company, but don’t assume your card will give you any coverage.
Shop around for RV insurance
Whether renting or buying an RV, it’s important to shop around to get the best rates for the insurance you need. We recommend get quotes from at least three insurance companies and even more if you have the time. Some insurance companies that offer RV insurance include:
- The Hartford
Also there are specialty insurers such as:
- Blue Sky
- Good Sam
- MBA RV Insurance
- RV America
Online shopping makes it easier to get more quotes in a shorter amount of time. Then don’t just look at price, but after finding the cheapest companies do your research to find out how the company rates in customer and claims service. Also, check out their financial strength so you go with a company that you know has the money to pay out on claims if you are in an accident. Many of the auto insurance companies also offer RV insurance, so check out our rankings of the best car insurance companies. The ratings and reviews are by current policyholders of top auto insurance providers.