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Purchasing a Mobile Home? Here's What You Need To Know About Insuring It

Insuring a mobile home is different than insuring a traditional one. To get a quote, you’ll be asked a number of questions about your mobile home. The age of the home is one such question and an important consideration.

Mobile home construction was not regulated until 1976, when the Department of Housing and Urban Development created the Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. Homes built before this year are officially considered to be mobile homes, while those built after are called "manufactured homes."  

Overall, coverage for manufactured homes is similar to homeowners coverage, yet there are a number of options that you won’t find on a traditional policy.

What does a manufactured home insurance policy cover?

Owners of mobile homes are covered for damages to the home itself and any other permanent structures on their property such as a garage, pool or shed. If you rent a mobile home, your policy won’t include these coverages.

Both owners and renters are covered for damage to their personal property, including appliances, furniture, clothing and computers. Some categories of items have coverage limits that can be extended by purchasing riders. Goods can be repaired or replaced using either actual cash value (ACV) or replacement cost. Replacement cost is often the preferred option, since it means any damaged or destroyed items will be replaced by new ones of equal value.

Manufactured home insurance also provides liability coverage in case a guest suffers an injury or their property is damaged while at your home. Finally, loss of use coverage provides additional living expenses to pay for a hotel and food if you have to vacate your home while repairs are underway.

There are several unique coverage options for owners of manufactured homes:

  • Insuring your home for a stated value (SV) rather than the actual cash value (ACV)
  • Coverage for moving your home to a different location
  • Breakdown protection for the dwelling and its fixtures and appliances
  • Builder's risk to protect your investment from the time you acquire the home until you move in
  • Enhanced coverage if you find standard coverage limits are too low for your needs

The exact options depend on the insurer, so ask your agent which ones are available to you and how you might benefit from them.

When do you need manufactured home insurance?

Are you required to have manufactured home insurance? You will likely need coverage if you have a mortgage or if you live in a mobile home community. Even if you’re not required to carry a policy, it’s better to have insurance than to risk the financial burden should the unexpected happen.

You don’t need manufactured home insurance if you own a modular home. While they are both prefabricated, they are very different in nature. Manufactured homes are shipped out in one piece with no assembly required, and the frame and foundation are usually made of metal. Modular homes, on the other hand, are shipped in several pieces and assembled on top of a permanent cement foundation. Once assembled, a modular home looks like a traditional house. If you are still unsure, look for a Department of Housing and Urban Development certification label, a small metal plate located on the outside of your home that indicates it is a manufactured home.

What you will need to disclose to get insurance

Insurance companies tend to be more cautious when insuring mobile homes. Given the lack of a permanent foundation, wind damage can be severe, especially if the home doesn’t have a permanent ground anchor or tie-down. Fires also tend to spread faster and cause more extensive damage in mobile homes.

You will be asked a number of questions about the construction of your home and the property on which it sits. Don’t be nervous. Most of the information should be easy to find with a little preparation.

Here is a partial list of the information you will need to prepare and provide to get a quote:

  • Do you own or rent the property?
  • Do you live there full time? If not, how often?
  • Is the property seasonal or vacant?
  • When was the home built?
  • When did you purchase the home and for what amount?
  • Is the home in a permanent location? Do you plan to move it?
  • Do you own or lease the land the home is located on?
  • What is the make, model and serial number? (If the home is leased, this may be optional.)
  • What are the dimensions of your house?
  • What materials are used for the skirting?
  • Is the interior made of plaster and Sheetrock, or prefabricated walls?
  • Did you add anything to the home, like a porch or an extra room?
  • Do you have any detached structures, such as a shed or garage?
  • Is your home permanently anchored with a tie-down or ground anchor?

Finding the right policy for your needs

Because mobile home construction was not standardized before 1976, finding insurance for older mobile homes can be challenging. No matter what your situation is, count on your Rathbun Insurance Account Manager to find the right provider and coverage for your needs.