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The Difference Between Insuring an RV, a Motorhome and a Camper

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 | November 2, 2017
The Difference Between Insuring an RV, Motorhome, and Camper

RV owners often make the mistake of assuming that their RV, motorhome or camper is fully covered under their standard auto insurance. But RVs especially are more than just a car. They’re a temporary or full-time home on wheels. They carry with them larger risks, more expensive equipment, and valuable personal belongings. In this way, RVs have unique needs from both auto insurance and homeowners insurance. RV insurance is there to provide this hybrid coverage.

But “RV Insurance” is a blanket term. There are several classes and types of motorhomes that need different forms of insurance. For example, you would need different insurance if you rent an RV two weeks out of the year to go camping in-state versus someone who lives out of their RV and travels across state borders year round. Same thing for insuring a top-of-the-line brand-new RV and a small, used camper.

So how do you find the right insurance for your RV needs? Let’s dive in and take a look at why you need RV insurance, the ways you can choose the right coverage for your motorhome, and how to calculate your expected cost.

Why do you need RV insurance?

Because your RV is larger than a car, it poses a higher risk for accidents. Standard auto insurance often won’t provide the full line of liability or collision coverage that you might need in case of a lawsuit or any damage.

Moreover, your standard auto insurance wouldn’t cover all the possessions you have in your RV like clothes, computers, satellites, sporting goods, jewelry, and electronics. Generally homeowners’ insurance will also exclude these items when they’re away from the house (in an RV) and/or if they are damaged from an auto collision.

Basically, RV coverage protects you and your wallet if there is some sort of at-fault accident or natural disaster. This can help protect your large RV investment, so you wouldn’t have to pay that enormous expense again if your RV was totaled in an accident. It can also provide additional coverage like emergency expenses and breakdown/towing costs that standard auto may not take into account.

You’ll also need RV insurance if you’re financing or renting your RV. Usually, lenders or owners will not let you operate an RV without full coverage for usage. Plus, certain forms of RV insurance is required in all states. You usually need a minimum amount of liability insurance at least. Some states require uninsured and underinsured coverage as well.

How do you choose RV insurance?

There are two key considerations when choosing which RV insurance you’ll need for your motorhome. The vehicle class will help your insurance company know the scope of coverage, and the policy types will ensure you are fully covered for your kind of motorhome. 

Vehicle Class

A “recreational vehicle” is broken down into three major classes, which each have their own sub-classes. The class often depends on the size of the coach.

Class A

  • Luxury coach (including converted busses)
  • Up to 75 feet long
  • Does not depend on chassis
  • Usually has panoramic front windows, living/dining areas, bathroom facilities
  • May or may not contain “slide outs” (additional living space to pull out when stopped)

Class B

  • Smallest type of coach, often camper vans, pop-ups, or travel trailers
  • Doesn’t have a cab-over
  • May have a small kitchen with fridge and gas grill
  • Some larger models include water heater, HVAC, portable toilet, internal shower

Class C

  • Standard cargo van
  • Camper or sleeper portion is held over the cab area of truck
  • Applies to fifth-wheel vehicles

You can learn more about the specifics of RV classes with our article: What’s The Difference Between An RV Motorhome And Camper?

Types of Coverage

RV insurance offers broader forms of protection than typical auto when it comes to taking care of your motorhome. Standard auto insurance doesn’t take into account that you are living on your RV for a period of time. Furthermore, standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover moving, collision, or travel related incidents.

Below are the common types of RV coverage:

1. Liability

Liability is required in all states. If you are found at fault for an RV-related incident, liability insurance can help cover legal fees, property damage, and medical expenses to the other party or parties. This is especially crucial for RVs, because motorhomes can do more damage (and pose a higher risk) than the average car, so they generally need a hire line of liability coverage.

2. Collision

Collision coverage will help pay for damages to your own RV if you get into some sort of collision, with another car or with a stationary object.

3. Comprehensive

Comprehensive coverage will cover losses and damages to your RV that are not collision related. This can include natural disasters, animal damage, theft, vandalism, and more.

4. Contents

Contents insurance or “personal effects” insurance will cover any personal belongings you have on board. This is especially important for people who use their RVs to live full-time or long-term vacations. Your contents onboard can quickly add up, and you don’t want to have to replace your RV and all your possessions in the case of an accident or natural disaster.

5. Uninsured/underinsured

This coverage works similarly to that of standard auto insurance. If the other driver in an accident isn’t insured, your insurance company will help pay for your property damages or medical expenses under the uninsured/underinsured motorists’ coverage. Learn more here.

6. Towing and roadside

Many RV policies will offer free towing and roadside assistance. Insurance companies often have a network of service providers that can cater specifically to motorhomes. This means you’ll always have specialized assistance on hand when your car and home is out of commission.

7. Emergency expenses

If something detrimental happens to your RV that renders it unusable, you’re left without a vehicle or a place to sleep. This means you may need to find emergency lodging and transportation for the time being. This is true even if you are only vacationing in your RV, since you would need to find a way to return back home safely with another mode of transport. Emergency expenses insurance will help cover these RV-specific costs.

8. Total loss replacement

Total loss replacement helps cover against the depreciation value of your RV. If your loss occurs in the first five years, you will usually receive a full replacement value on your RV that does not take depreciation into account.

This is especially necessary for those who live in their RV, since one accident could ruin your entire home. You don’t want to pay $100,000 and only receive $90,000 back after an accident one year later, simply because of depreciation rates.

9. Campsite and vacation liability

This coverage will protect against liability if someone (not in your family) is injured in or near your RV while it’s parked. This is similar to homeowners’ liability insurance, but it’s made for on the road liabilities.

How much does RV insurance cost? 

There are 13 factors that will determine the cost of your RV coverage:

  1. Class of RV (A, B, C and sub-classes)
  2. Size of RV
  3. Use of RV as residence (full-time residency means driving more miles and higher risk, so increased cost)
  4. Miles per year driven in RV (once-per year recreational, monthly recreational, full-time)
  5. Types of coverage, as described above
  6. Custom features on motorhome that need additional coverage
  7. Requirements, minimums, and risk factors of your state
  8. Where you’ll be traveling in your RV
  9. Age and depreciation of motorhome at time of purchasing
  10. Past claims filed on RV
  11. Prior speeding tickets and traffic violations
  12. Experience driving an RV
  13. Deductible costs

The Bottom Line

Whether you live on the open-road in your motorhome full-time or you use an RV occasionally for a thrilling vacation, you need the proper insurance to cover from severe liability and damages. Don’t assume that your auto and homeowners’ coverage will protect you. Invest in inclusive RV insurance coverage to ensure you protect your investment and your family fun!

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