Why RV Insurance Matters
Every state in the US requires insurance for motorized RVs like class A and class C motorhomes and class B camper vans. While the coverage is different, most states also require that you carry insurance on towed RVs as well, from travel trailers like the Bowlus Terra Firma, to fifth wheels and tear drops. Besides the legal requirements, your camper is a significant investment that you should protect, just like your home and car!
RV insurance coverage is sold by most of the major home and auto carriers in the US like State Farm, Progressive, and AAA. There are also some RV specialty providers, such as Good Sam. RV policies typically include comprehensive, collision, liability, property damage, and personal injury protection. But before you lock in your coverage, there are a few other things you should consider to ensure that your RV insurance provides you all of the protection you need. What we’ve outlined in this post will focus largely on insurance for towed trailers.
RV Insurance: Replacement Coverage
Let’s start by looking at the primary types of replacement coverage offered by RV insurance providers. If your trailer is a total loss due to an accident, fire, or water damage, the type of policy you have determines how much money you get towards your new trailer.
Total loss replacement (TLR) is the gold standard, and what we always recommend to our Bowlus customers. Also known as replacement cost coverage, a TLR policy means the insurance provider will replace your unit with a new, comparably-equipped RV if yours is totaled. Some policies have time limits on how long they’ll provide full replacement coverage (typically the first 4-5 years of the RV), after which most companies convert the policy to an actual cash value payout.
Actual Cash Value (ACV) is what a large percentage of RV owners have. The annual premiums on these policies are less expensive than TLRs. But, if your RV is totaled, an ACV policy will pay you the fair market value for your unit – and that may not be what it’ll cost to replace what you had.
Purchase price guarantee (PPG) polices reimburse you for the amount you paid for your trailer. These are commonly used with RVs that are more than two years old. Keep in mind though, that as manufacturers raise prices, PPG will likely not make you whole if your RV is a total loss.
If you have a classic camper, agreed value coverage may be right for you. With this type of policy, the value will be determined by the bill of sale or an appraiser.
If you’re planning on living in your RV full time (6 or more months of the year, or if the RV is your primary residence), you’ll need full-timer coverage (FTC). These policies can be harder to find, so you may have to look to a specialty RV insurance company like Good Sam. FTC policies typically provide additional liability coverage and some medical coverage.
RV Insurance Policy Options
There are a wide variety of coverage options available that allow you to customize your policy to suit your specific needs. Options will vary based on the carrier, but here are a few things you should consider, if they aren’t standard:
- Personal Contents Replacement Coverage (Personal property coverage): Covers the cost of replacing damaged or stolen items that are kept inside your RV.
- Vacation Liability: Covers property damage at your campsite and protects you if a guest is injured at your site or in your RV. If you have a large or expensive RV, you may want to invest in vacation liability coverage over and above the standard amount provided. This is also referred to as bodily injury liability and property-damage liability coverage.
- Emergency Expense Coverage: Reimburses travel and living expenses if you’re involved in an accident. This could include a car rental, hotel stays, and food. Some policies also provide transportation home for you, your family members (including your pets), and your RV if you become ill.
- 24-hour Roadside Assistance: You may already have this for your vehicle, but you should make sure you have coverage for the trailer you’re towing as well. You don’t want to leave it by the side of the road if your car breaks down and needs to be towed.
- Tire Protection: Primarily a concern for large class A and class C motorhomes that use large (and expensive) tires, this may be something to consider for your travel trailer. Tire protection typically offers things like flat tire repair and tire and wheel replacement.
- Pet Injury Coverage: Reimburses medical care for your pet should he or she be injured in an accident.
- Audio-Video and Custom Equipment Protection: Covers select electronic components in your RV.
- Key and Lock Replacement.
Mexico Physical Damage: If you’re planning on traveling south of the border with your RV, make sure to check your coverage before you go (some policies may not fully cover your rig outside of the US). You may need to procure additional coverage from an insurance company in Mexico.
Storage rates: Some carriers allow you to suspend portions of your policy while your RV is in storage for long periods of time. This can save you on your premiums when you store your trailer for the winter. Just make sure to reactivate the full policy before you head out on your first trip of the year.
RV Insurance Costs
Recreational vehicle insurance policy costs will vary state to state and person to person. Rates are typically calculated based on your driving history, the value of the RV, whether it’s a towable or a motorized RV, and any additional coverage you choose to have. Your age may also impact your insurance rates, just as it does with your auto insurance.
Just like your homeowners insurance and auto policies, you’ll want to shop around and look for discounts and the options that best suit your needs. We recommend starting with the insurance agent that you currently work with for your home and cars. Multi-vehicle or bundling discounts can provide significant savings if you get all your coverage from the same provider.
Other popular discounts that RVers can take advantage of are diminishing deductible coverage or safe driver discounts that reduce your premium or deductible if you don’t file a claim. Paying your annual premium in full, rather than each month, can also reduce the cost of your policy. Ask if the provider offers discounts to members of any associations or organizations. The insurance discount you get from joining an association like the National RV Association may be greater than the membership fees themselves.
Finding the right insurance policy for your RV sounds like a tedious task. But really, once you understand the basic components, you’ll be able to invest in great coverage that will give you peace of mind every time you hit the road for a new adventure.
Bowlus is neither an insurance broker or agent. Please contact yours for more information.