Increasingly, retirees, vacationers and people looking for cheaper housing are living in RVs — either part-time or full-time — leading to a greater need for recreational vehicle insurance. RV insurance can cover more than the moving roof over your head. It can offer insurance for contents kept in a storage shed while you’re on the road, higher liability protection, and medical payments for injured visitors, among other features.
It’s a type of insurance that more people may be needing. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association found in a 2011 survey that the number of RV-owning households has grown to a peak of 8.9 million households, up from 7.9 million in 2005. That equates to 8.5 percent of U.S. households owning RVs, up from 8 percent in 2005.
The biggest rise in RV ownership rates was for people ages 35 to 54, at 11.2 percent. Also, 39 percent of RVers had children under 18 living at home.
Starting the transition to RV living
Before you pack up your RV and hit the road to live in it full-time, there are some initial steps to take to make the transition easy.
Mail: If you’re going to keep your original home and are either renting it out or going out in your RV for a few months — or even if you’re selling your home — you should have a mail-forwarding system set up. You can work with the U.S. Postal Service or have a friend or relative forward your mail to you.
Work: You don’t have to be retired to live in an RV. If your employer allows you to work remotely, you can set up a Wi-Fi system in your RV. Ask if your company has direct deposit for your paychecks.
Fewer possessions: Living full-time in an RV will quickly show you how many possessions you own and help you decide what’s important to keep and what isn’t. A lot of furniture, for example, isn’t needed. You can sell it or store it in a storage unit until you decide what to do with it, though that may require extra insurance specifically for items in storage and monthly payments for storing things you may never use again.
Your car: Towing your car is recommended by a few RV sites. Short trips to the grocery store are more fuel-efficient in a smaller vehicle, and some roads that you may want to explore won’t accommodate a large RV. You’ll also want to keep your car insured.
Savings: Keep your savings account at a good level to fund emergency needs, just as you would at home. Health issues or major repairs needed for your RV could pop up and force you to use some savings.
Making RV living easier
When looking for an RV park or campground to stay in, check not only on the nightly rate, but how much utilities will cost. Some parks won’t charge for electricity if you stay less than one month.
You may not want to work while using your RV, but it’s an option. The site Workamper.com provides job leads in such areas as a digital career, seasonal work and campground hosting. If you’re good at maintenance work, an RV campground probably needs your skills.
Full-time RV insurance is needed if you live in your RV. Every state has minimum liability insurance requirements, though collision and comprehensive limits are determined by the policyholder. If you’re buying an RV with a loan, your lender will require RV insurance before it approves financing.
RV insurance covers a range of motorhomes, from a van to a converted bus. The bigger the vehicle, the more you’ll have to pay for insurance.
RV insurance covers the same things home and auto insurance covers, and more. Collision, comprehensive and liability coverage is offered, along with additional coverage for your personal belongings, equipment and attached accessories such as awnings and satellite dishes.
Comprehensive coverage, for example, would be needed if your RV is stolen, a bear or some other animal damages it, or a storm damages the RV. Your insurance deductible would be paid first before the comprehensive insurance coverage is paid up to your policy limits.
Adding coverage for your personal effects will cover your belongings in a covered loss while in an RV. However, your homeowner’s policy may cover them also.
You may also want coverage for total loss replacement, emergency expenses, towing and roadside help, and uninsured and underinsured motorists.
Along with the state laws where you live and the class of motorhome you own, your RV insurance needs are determined by where you’re traveling and if you’re crossing state and country borders. Full-time RV use will cost more in insurance, as will having custom features such as an upgraded interior on your RV that can be more expensive to repair.
If you’re using your RV for a vacation only, you’ll probably want to buy vacation liability coverage. It commonly has a set limit of $10,000, provided that comprehensive and collision coverage are also part of the policy. Vacation liability pays up to set limits for bodily injury and property damage from an accident in the RV while it’s used as a temporary vacation residence.
Using your RV part-time can save you money on insurance. Your RV can only be insured for the time you’re on the road, and a storage option from your insurer can allow coverage to be lowered when it’s in storage. You’ll still be covered for fire, theft and storm damage, for example, while it’s in storage, but your premium would be lower.
However you plan to use an RV, be sure to shop around for the best insurance rates and make sure you get the insurance you need while on the road in your new home.