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All You Ever Wanted to Know About Insurance

Your RV Needs More Than Just Auto Insurance

Just because your recreational vehicle (RV) travels the same roads as cars doesn’t mean you should share the same insurance coverage. At a minimum, every state requires the same amount of liability coverage for an RV as it dictates for a car (although exact coverage requirements vary by state). Even so, the minimum isn’t always your best choice.

Because an RV is essentially a home on the road — either temporarily or full time — it requires elements of both auto and homeowners insurance.

In addition to the liability coverage mentioned above, you may need a separate RV policy depending on your situation and the type of vehicle you own.

What class of RV do you own?

Owners tend to use “RV” as a blanket description for three primary classes of recreational vehicles:

  • Class A
    • Characterized as luxury coaches (including converted buses) up to 75 feet long
    • Typically include panoramic front windows, a living/dining area and bathroom
    • Might include “slide outs” for additional living space when parked
  • Class B
    • Characterized as the smallest coaches
    • Do not have space over the cab
    • Include camper and pop-up vans
    • May have a small kitchen with a small refrigerator or grill; water heater; heating, cooling and air conditioning (HVAC) unit; portable toilet; and internal shower
  • Class C
    • Are towable but not drivable
    • Include fifth-wheel vehicles

Coverage amounts differ by state, but if you own a class A or B (often called "motorhomes"), you will definitely need specific RV insurance. You'll also need insurance beyond liability if you are still paying off your loan or do not own your RV outright, regardless of class. The same goes for an RV that you are renting.

Your insurance professional can provide an analysis of policy payments versus total loss before you buy so you can determine your full cost of ownership. After that, it’s up to you to decide how much financial risk you want to assume based on your usage and budget needs.

Even if you own a class C (towable) that is paid in full and RV insurance isn’t mandated, don’t dismiss insurance without careful consideration. Although you may not be legally obligated to carry RV insurance, you do need to understand the cost of self-insuring. Would you be able to pay the cost completely on your own if your RV was physically damaged or your personal belongings on board were damaged or lost?

Whatever class of vehicle you own, the financial burden of having to pay 100% of these costs out of pocket may be too great of a gamble, particularly if you use your vehicle often or live in it full time.

Types of coverage

Liability insurance, which is required by all states for all RV owners and renters, covers the costs of legal fees, property damage and medical expenses to any other person involved in an accident or incident with your RV for which you are found at fault. You may also want or need to add these other types of coverage to your basic liability policy:

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist: Some states require this in addition to liability coverage. It pays for property damage or medical expenses in excess of the cost covered by the other person at fault in an accident, either because they have no insurance or carry a very low level. This is particularly important if you travel to or live in a state with minimal auto insurance requirements.
  • Collision: This reimburses for damage to your own RV if you collide with another vehicle or a stationary object.
  • Comprehensive: This covers RV damage or loss caused by incidents other than collisions, such as those related to natural disasters, animals, theft or vandalism.
  • Contents: This protects your onboard possessions.
  • Towing and roadside assistance: This is particularly valuable if you have a large, specialized RV that could benefit from access to a network of expert service providers.
  • Emergency expenses: If your RV is rendered unusable, you may be without transportation and a place to stay. This covers both.
  • Total loss replacement: If you face a total loss, you would be reimbursed the value of your RV at purchase, minus depreciation. If your loss occurs in the first five years of ownership, you will typically recover full replacement value without any depreciation subtracted.
  • Campsite and vacation liability: This coverage kicks in for any legal fees, property damage or medical expenses that result if anyone outside of your family is injured in or near your RV while it is parked. 

Other considerations

Your insurance professional can review the details, limits and exclusions of each policy choice. Premiums can always be reduced by accepting higher deductibles (the amount you need to pay for a repair or replacement before you receive any money from the insurance company), but it's important to understand other things beyond the type, value and age of your RV that can impact your premium costs. These include:

  • The miles you drive annually
  • Whether you use the RV seasonally or live in it full time
  • Any custom features that should have additional protection
  • The regions in which you travel
  • Where your RV is parked or stored when not in use
  • Past RV claims
  • Prior speeding tickets or speeding violations
  • Personal RV driving experience and qualifications
  • Potential discounts for multiple policies with the same insurance carrier

If you aren’t asked about the above items directly, be sure to mention them before selecting your policy.

Travel with confidence

Owning an RV often comes with expenses you never considered when you first started imagining a carefree lifestyle on the road. While you may not have given much thought to insurance premiums, the right coverage can provide peace of mind and be an important part of your stress-free travels.

So take the time to evaluate your RV insurance needs today and call your Rathbun Account Manager!