Q: My husband and I are planning to retire next year and want to travel cross country in an RV. We know we probably need RV insurance but we’re not sure if it works like home insurance, auto insurance, or something different. What does RV insurance cover, and what can we expect from our policy?
a: Before hitting the road, RV owners will want to protect their investment with insurance. RV liability insurance is required by law in every state, but it’s an additional expense that they may not have factored into the cost of RV ownership. Regardless of whether or not it is required, having RV insurance can provide peace of mind that owners will be financially protected if their RV suffers physical damage from a covered loss or causes injury or damage to a third party.
RV insurance policies work similarly to car insurance and are designed to help protect RV drivers against the cost of repairing or replacing an RV in the event of an accident on the road or damage to the RV while parked or in storage. Full coverage includes liability protection, which helps pay for injuries to a third party or damage to another vehicle if the RV driver is at fault. Other common recreational vehicle insurance coverages include collision coverage, which pays to repair an RV if it hits another vehicle or object, and comprehensive coverage that covers vehicle theft, vandalism, fire, damage from acts of nature or collision with wildlife, and windshield damage.
RV insurance typically offers several types of coverage to help protect your motorhome.
Many recreational vehicle insurance policies combine aspects of both home and auto insurance. When insuring an RV, owners will want to think about what they will be using the vehicle for. For example, an RV owner who plans to live in his RV full-time may want more coverage than an owner who only uses the RV occasionally for vacation purposes.
Recreational vehicle owners will want to check their state’s insurance requirements for recreational vehicles. All states require a minimum level of liability coverage on motor homes or motorized recreational vehicles. Travel trailers, like a tailgate camper, do not need to be insured by law, although if they are financed, the lender can require them to be fully insured. However, most owners of non-motorized campers still opt for a camping trailer insurance policy to protect themselves from expensive accidents on the road. RV trailer insurance is relatively inexpensive and can help the owner pay for repairs if the trailer is damaged due to a covered event.
Property damage liability coverage helps pay to repair any damage to another vehicle or someone else’s property if you are found liable for causing the damage.
All RV insurance policies include liability coverage, as required by law in all states for motorized recreational vehicles. Liability coverage helps pay third parties for repairs, medical bills, legal fees, and other expenses if the RV owner is found liable in an accident. Liability coverage is generally divided into two categories: liability for property damage and liability for bodily injury.
Property damage liability coverage helps pay for the repair or replacement of property if an RV owner damages it with his or her vehicle. For example, if an RV owner returns to another car in a parking lot, he will likely be liable for damages to the parked vehicle. The property damage liability component of an RV owner’s insurance can help cover these repair costs.
Bodily injury liability coverage helps pay medical bills and loss of income if a third party is injured in an accident that is determined to be your fault.
Like property damage liability coverage, bodily injury liability coverage protects the RV owner from legal fees and expenses if they are found liable for an accident involving their RV. However, bodily injury liability coverage helps cover medical bills and other expenses if the accident causes injury to a third party.
For example, if an RV owner accidentally hits another motorist while he is driving the RV, the other driver could sustain accident-related injuries and need to go to the emergency room. RV owner bodily injury liability coverage can help pay the injured party’s medical bills. Liability insurance can also help cover legal fees, such as those for an attorney and related court fees, if the injured driver decides to sue the RV owner for damages.
Collision coverage covers damage to your recreational vehicle after an accident, regardless of fault.
In addition to liability coverage, RV owners can also purchase coverage to protect the RV itself. Generally, these additional types of coverage help pay to repair or replace an RV in the event of a covered loss. In addition, coverage is available to help pay the medical bills of an RV driver and any affected passengers if they are injured in an accident.
Collision coverage may be required if an RV is financed, and like auto collision coverage, it helps RV owners pay for repairs if their RV hits another object. This coverage comes with a deductible, which is the amount of the claim that the policyholder is responsible for paying. This coverage can be applied if an RV driver collides with another vehicle or hits a fixed object, such as a light pole or guardrail.
One of the most notable exceptions to collision coverage is a collision with an animal. If a deer jumps in front of the RV and causes an accident, comprehensive coverage (covered in detail below) will pay for the repairs instead.
Comprehensive coverage is designed to pay for damage to an RV caused by something other than a collision, such as a covered weather event or vandalism, as well as vehicle theft.
In addition to covering collisions with animals, comprehensive insurance helps RV owners pay for expensive repairs due to events beyond their control. Comprehensive coverage applies if the vehicle is stolen or due to vandalism, fire or damage caused by falling debris such as branches or rocks and weather events such as hail. It also includes coverage to replace your windshield.
Some recreational vehicle insurance policies also cover certain water-related accidents. Inside RV campers will usually have some type of plumbing system, from simple water tanks to full bathroom fixtures. In the event of an accident, sewer pipes, water tanks, and indoor plumbing can be damaged. Regardless of whether the RV owner purchased one of the best RV sewer hoses, damage from an accident can cause water leaks, and such cases are usually covered by comprehensive coverage.
However, there is no set standard for what is and is not covered by comprehensive camping vehicle insurance. RV owners will want to contact an insurance agent to get an RV insurance quote and find out exactly what the policy covers. Reading the terms of comprehensive coverage and exclusions carefully can help RV owners avoid an unpleasant surprise when filing a claim.
Underinsured and underinsured motorist coverage helps pay for damage or injury caused by a collision with a driver who does not have enough insurance to pay or no insurance at all.
Although every state requires auto liability insurance for drivers, not every driver carries it. In other cases, the driver carries only the minimum amount required. Unfortunately, if these drivers are involved in an accident with an RV owner, the driver’s insurance may not be enough to cover the damage they cause. Fortunately, RV owners can get both insured and uninsured RV motorist coverage. This insurance helps cover the gap if another driver is at fault in an accident but their liability coverage is not enough to pay for the RV repair.
For example, another driver could accidentally hit the side of an RV while it’s parked at night and cause significant damage to the RV’s tire. While another driver may have insurance, he may only carry the minimum required liability insurance and not have a coverage limit high enough to pay for damage to an RV. In this case, the RV owner may be out of luck and have to pay out of pocket for damage that exceeds the driver’s insurance limit. However, RV owners who carry uninsured or underinsured insurance will be able to use this coverage to cover the cost of repairs that exceed the driver’s at-fault coverage limits.
Medical payments coverage helps pay medical bills for you and your passengers after an accident, no matter the fault.
While bodily injury liability coverage helps pay medical bills if an RV owner causes bodily harm to another driver or pedestrian, it does not pay their medical bills (or those of their passengers) in the event of an accident in which they are at fault for. Fortunately, RV owners can usually add medical payment coverage to help pay their own medical bills or those of their passengers if they are involved in an accident. The main benefit of medical payments coverage is that it can help cover medical bills regardless of who caused an accident.
What this means is that if an RV owner is involved in an accident with another driver and is at fault, and they are both injured, RV owner insurance can help pay both of their medical bills. RV bodily injury liability coverage will help cover the cost of the other driver’s medical bills. On the other hand, medical payments coverage helps pay the medical bills of the RV driver and any passengers.
Liability coverage is required by law in all states, but you can fully cover yourself and your RV if you choose the additional coverage that is available.
Adding more than just the required minimum liability insurance to an RV or motor home can help protect RV owners from accidents on the road. The extra coverage can be especially beneficial to full-time RV residents or truck drivers. Higher liability coverage limits can help ensure that the RV owner is fully protected and is less likely to have to pay out of pocket for any liability claims.
There are also different types of coverage that RV owners may want to consider. Roadside assistance, for example, provides assistance to recreational vehicle drivers if they need a battery jump start, if they lock themselves out of their vehicle, need assistance with a tire change, or run out of fuel. It can also serve as a type of RV insurance to take the RV to the nearest town for repairs, if needed. Other types of coverage help protect the RV owner’s possessions inside the RV when they are away from home.
As with many things related to owning an RV, new owners may be surprised to learn about their insurance options. It is recommended that campers shop around to find the right insurance for their device. Insurance for a pop-up camper, for example, is usually not required and will be different than the insurance needed for an oversized motorhome. RV owners may be able to save money by researching the best home and auto insurance packages, some of which may cover mobile homes. Alternatively, a driver considering different types of camping vehicles might want to go with a trailer rather than a motorhome, because insurance for camper trailers is usually less expensive (and often not required, unless the camper is financed). In this case, the driver’s motor vehicle liability insurance extends from the towing vehicle to the camper.