Let’s face it, we have a lot invested in our RV, whether it is a trailer or a motorized unit. Even a pop-up trailer costs in excess of $10,000 these days, and choosing RV insurance to cover damage is a wise move. In the case of use of a motorized unit, insurance coverage is required by law. If you have financed your RV, the financial institution will require insurance to protect their investment.
We are going to discuss several different types of RV insurance here. In addition to standard RV insurance, we will talk about Full-Time RV Insurance, RV Towing and Roadside Assistance, and Special RV Medical Insurance. We will also briefly mention extended warranty or service plans.
There are some basic insurance terms we need to understand to be able to discuss coverage with an insurance agent. They are:
- Deductible: is the amount you must pay up front, for a claim, before the insurance company pays up to the limits of the policy.
- Collision: pays for covered repairs caused by a collision with another vehicle, person, or object.
- Comprehensive Coverage: pays for any damages caused by fire, a theft, falling objects, animals, wind, hail and other weather related damages.
- Liability: Covers damages to a person, vehicle or property that you are deemed liable for. There are 3 types: Bodily Injury, Property Damage and Personal Liability.
- Premium: insurance speak for what you pay for insurance.
- Seasonal Coverage: is where the insurance company only charges you for certain coverage’s during the time you use the rig. This is usually only offered by companies that specialize in insuring RV’s.
Most automobile insurance companies will also cover RV’s. The coverage is not well regulated, and almost every company offers differing coverage at different rates. This is where you will have to educate yourself to get the coverage you want and need at a good price. Shopping for RV insurance on price alone could cause you big expensive problems later on if you have damage that isn’t adequately covered, or not at all. Think about towing. Many automobile policies cover towing. An automobile insurance company will not know about how a large motorhome must be towed nor will they cover the complete cost which can go into the 1000’s.
Many companies do not cover “attachments” to your RV. This could be awnings, satellite dishes and TV antennas among other expensive items to replace or repair.
Some that do cover it, do as at a depreciated value. Others cover it at replacement cost. Ask! You will want “trip interruption” coverage in case your rig is damaged while you are on vacation or otherwise away from home and must stay in a hotel or other lodgings. In the case of a motorized unit, ask if rental car is part of the coverage.
If you tow a vehicle behind a motorhome, are both vehicles covered by the same policy? Usually this is not the case. Folks fall in love with the low cost insurance they have used for many years on their car, but find some other company to insure the RV. In case of an accident, usually both vehicles will sustain damage. Now you have 2 accidents with 2 deductibles and 2 separate claims. Using the same company for both units will fix that issue.
In the case of a total loss, are you adequately covered so you can replace your RV? I certainly hope so if it is financed! Many companies offer some type of replacement coverage. The best is where you will receive a brand new rig in the case of a total loss. This coverage is usually only offered for rigs in their first five years of life. The best you can get after that is to receive full purchase price for a total loss. You must nail down this coverage in writing at the time of policy purchase. Read the fine print!
What about your personal possessions carried in your rig? Many companies only cover up to $3000 worth. You can purchase more at additional cost. Now is the time to inventory everything in your rig. Take pictures of everything and keep receipts for everything over $500. Keep this information on a flash drive in a safe place. This will get you a far bigger settlement than if you can’t even remember what was in the rig. You may need to have special riders written into your policy for things of high value such as jewelry and high value electronics.
One way of saving money on RV insurance is selecting a higher deductable. Moving from $100 to $1,000 deductable will save you money, but also increase the risk you are willing to take.
All this being said, you still should shop around for RV insurance. Ask for Better Business Bureau ratings on different companies. Ask people you consider knowledgeable about RV insurance. Ask this on Facebook and you will get the entire list of every possible insurance company. You know what I mean. The very best thing you can do is to speak with a knowledgeable RV specific insurance agent who understands the special circumstances of damage to RV’s.
Here are some questions you should ask the agent when shopping for RV insurance:
- What is the minimum coverage required in my state?
- Will I have full-replacement-value coverage?
- Will I need personal liability coverage?
- How much of my personal belongings are covered?
- Does my homeowners insurance cover personal property inside the RV?
- What is the deductible, and how much can I save by raising it?
- Do I have towing coverage for my RV?
- Can I pay for full coverage only when I use my RV?
Choosing RV Insurance for Full-Time RVers
If you are a full-time RVer, you will have some other considerations to think about in obtaining adequate RV insurance. Insurance rates vary widely by state and even to a part of a state. A full-timer can choose a domicile state in which they get their mail, pay their taxes, vote, get their drivers licenses and pay for RV insurance. Our Florida insurance rates were almost double those in South Dakota when we switched there for our domicile. Most Insurance companies can write coverage in multiple states. Research what state is best for you.
Full-time RVers will by nature of the lifestyle gather more “stuff” than casual or weekend RVers. You must ensure all your belongings are covered. “Full-time coverage” will provide higher limits of personal item protection. Make sure it is enough.
A full-timer will require personal liability similar to what you had in your sticks and bricks house. Someone can slip on your top step and sue you as a result. This alone could wipe you out without adequate liability protection.
Because of the additional cost, you might not tell your RV insurance company that you are living full-time in your RV. Please do not do this. The liability issues alone could cause you to lose your rig and other assetts. It’s just not a good idea to falsify an insurance document. Some full-timers rates are actually lower!
There are very few options when choosing an insurance company for full-time RV protection. They understand the special nature of our lifestyle and our rigs. Here is a list of the best of them:
- AIS RV Insurance endorsed by Escapees RV Club
- National General Insurance is the former GMAC insurance company and is also one of the carriers for Good Sam Insurance as well as our personal choice.
- FMCA RVinsurance is offered through several RV insurance agencies, as a coalition, with policies offered by several different RV insurance companies.
- Foremost Insurance
- Progressive Insurance
- Explorer RV Insurance Agency, Inc.
Towing and Roadside Assistance Insurance
There are many Roadside Assistance plans offered by automobile insurance companies. Since RV’s are a completely different animal, you really need to have an RV specific towing and assistance plan.
None of the Roadside Assistance companies own any towing equipment, They have contracts with tow companies across the country to service their customers. A key consideration is does the towing company that shows up have the proper equipment to tow your particular type of rig. A large class A motorhome will require a very large and expensive tow truck with the proper towing attachments to prevent damage to your rig.
In our opinion, there are really only three choices of companies for this type of insurance. They are:
AAA RV Plus www.autoclubmo.aaa.com/memberserv/plusRV.html
Good Sam Roadside Assistance http://www.goodsamroadside.com/
We have had Coach-Net for 7 years and have used their services for towing as well as roadside assistance. They also have qualified RV technicians available to help talk you through troubleshooting on your own.
Extended Warranty or Service Plan
Another type of RV coverage is the extended warranty. This type of policy covers mechanical breakdowns once the regular manufacturer’s warranty has expired. There are many companies in this business. Many policies or contacts are sold by the RV dealer at the time of purchase. The number of these companies are only exceeded by the number of complaints against them. Unfortunately, many of these complaints are because the customer did not read the exclusions clause in the policy. This is a list of what is not covered. Is it written into the policy that new factory authorized parts will be used? How much diagnostic time is covered by the policy? Once again, it is up to you, the RV owner to read the fine print and ask good questions.
I had a recent trip to a shop to replace a faulty turbocharger, an almost $4000 issue. My warranty company wanted to see the last 2 year’s maintenance records to ensure oil changes had been done. Probably a pretty fair request. Keep good records because failure to do required maintenance can void the policy. I have had less than good experiences with one other extended warranty company that has since gone out of business that I received when I bought our rig. Since then I have been using the Extended Service Plan from Good Sam with great results. These are the only two companies I have heard good reports on.
· Good Sam Extended Service Plan http://www.goodsamesp.com
· Wholesale Warranties http://www.wholesalewarranties.com
Special RV Medical Membership Plans
We RVers can travel pretty far afield and even to foreign countries. Unfortunately, medical emergencies do happen. Your health insurance may cover you, but what about returning you to your home hospital and doctors. You could be in a place where medical assistance is inadequate and you must be transported. Enter special RV medical evacuation coverage. This is not actually insurance, but a membership in one of these companies. All the companies have different benefits and rates, but some will return you and a spouse to a place of your choice (or your home address) where you can obtain care or recuperate. This can require the use of air evacuation by a specially equipped aircraft. It can also be ground transportation by ambulance. Most will arrange for or pay for the return transport of your RV and pets as well. I have listed the major players in this very specialized but important service.
- Good Sam Travel Assist
Here is more information on the above plans.