How To Get the Best RV Insurance Coverage for Your Next Road Trip
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After RV sales soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, the boom in new RV owners has increased demand for RV insurance. Whether you’re cruising your RV across state lines, towing it to a campsite for the summer or living in it full-time, you’ll want adequate liability protection for yourself and physical damage coverage for your RV.
In this article, we’ll explain how RV coverage works and what it costs. We also share tips for choosing the best RV insurance — from looking at customer satisfaction to asking your friends for recommendations.
What Is RV Insurance?
RV insurance, also known as camper insurance or travel trailer insurance, is an insurance product specifically designed to provide liability protection and often physical damage coverage for recreational vehicles (RVs). Examples of RVs include:
- Travel trailers (fifth-wheelers)
- Truck campers
- Camp trailers
Essentially, an RV is any vehicle with a single chassis that can be used as a temporary or primary residence.
How Does RV Insurance Work?
The primary function of RV insurance is to provide liability protection while you’re driving it on the road. Similar to driving your personal car, RV insurance will pay for the other party’s repair or medical bills if you’re responsible for causing an accident. In addition, you can buy extra coverage that covers damages to your RV and your medical bills if you’re injured.
For example, say you’re driving on Route 66 in your Thor Windsport, and your RV encounters a sinkhole that causes significant damage to its front. In this scenario, the comprehensive portion of your policy would cover the resulting damages to your RV.
Much like regular car insurance, RV coverage may have a deductible for claims involving physical damages to your vehicle. However, deductibles generally do not apply with liability claims when you’re responsible for another party’s losses.
Comparable to a renters or homeowners policy, you’re covered for any accidents that occur inside your RV or around the campsite. For example, if a sunshade accessory is knocked loose and lands on somebody’s head, your RV insurance policy may cover their medical bills.
Do I Need RV Insurance?
As with driving a standard passenger car, insurance is legally required if you want to drive your RV on a public road. Similarly, the insurance requirements are generally the same, with liability coverage being required in nearly every state.
Of course, the minimum limits will also change based on your state. Let’s look at the insurance requirements in the four states that received the most RV shipments in 2022:
|Minimum Required Liability Limits
Keep in mind that some states may require you to purchase types of coverage on top of liability insurance, such as personal injury protection and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (more on these later).
Do I Need RV Insurance if I Don’t Drive It?
If your state requires passengers to have auto insurance (which is most states), then any motorized RV will need to be insured — even if it’s only for the short time driving it from the dealer to be permanently parked at your home or in an RV park.
Instead, the liability coverage of the policy insuring the passenger car or truck towing your RV should extend to your RV while on the road. However, you will either need to buy collision and comprehensive coverage separately or have your RV listed on your auto policy if you want it covered for physical damages.
Even if your RV remains stationary, you should still purchase insurance to protect against personal liability claims when people visit, as well as losses from extreme weather, break-ins and even careless drivers that back into your motorhome.
What if I Live in My RV Full-Time?
Anyone living in their RV will need to look into full-time RV insurance — basically a homeowners policy for a tiny home on wheels. A base RV policy will cover you for liability only while driving but a full-time RV policy can cover accidents when guests visit your RV. For example, you may be covered if a guest trips while climbing the stairs into your RV and breaks their elbow.
If your RV is parked in a formal RV park, you can even buy extra coverage if you’re responsible for damages in common-use areas.
What if I’m Only Renting an RV?
Not everyone owns an RV. In fact, 35 million people look to rent an RV per year. However, insurance requirements will still apply and an RV lessor will usually require comprehensive and collision coverage on top of the state’s minimum requirements.
What Type of Insurance Does an RV Need?
There are several types of RV insurance coverages available to protect your motorhome, camper or travel trailer. The specific coverage options may vary among insurance providers but here are some common types of insurance for an RV:
- Liability coverage: This is the most basic and essential coverage that protects you financially if you cause an accident that injures someone else or damages their property while driving.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: This coverage helps pay for damages and injuries caused by a driver who doesn't have insurance or has insufficient coverage.
- Medical payments coverage (Medpay): Medpay covers medical expenses if you or your passengers are injured in an accident, regardless of fault.
- Personal injury protection (PIP): Offered only in certain states, PIP functions similarly to Medpay and provides medical compensation to you and your passengers when injured in a car accident. However, it may cover additional costs like lost wages, rehabilitation and other related expenses.
- Collision coverage: This coverage pays for the repair or replacement of your RV if it's damaged or totaled in a collision with another vehicle or object, regardless of fault.
- Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive insurance provides protection for non-collision incidents, such as theft, vandalism, fire or damage from natural disasters like storms or floods.
Optional Coverages for an RV
Similar to auto insurance, there are additional coverages you can add to your policy to bolster your protection, such as:
- Personal belongings: As the name would suggest, any valuables you have in your RV will be covered if they’re stolen or vandalized.
- Full replacement coverage: With this coverage, if your RV is totaled within a certain period after purchase (e..g, be up to three years), the insurance company will provide you with a brand-new RV of similar value. If the RV is over the policy’s purchase period, the insurance company will pay the original sales price.
- Vacation liability coverage: This type of insurance provides personal liability protection when your RV is stationary and off the road. It covers bodily injury and property damage that occurs at your campsite or temporary location.
- Roadside assistance: Get coverage for towing, fuel delivery, flat tire assistance and locksmith services.
- Specialized equipment coverage: Any modifications added to your trailer (e.g., solar panels, suspension alterations) will be protected if they’re damaged by a covered peril.
- Loss assessment coverage: If your RV is parked in a formal RV community owned by an association, this coverage pays for damages caused by you to common-use areas.
How Much Does RV Insurance Cost?
The cost of RV insurance can be as high as $1,300 annually. What you pay will depend on the type of RV you own (Class A, B, C, fifth wheeler, etc.), as well as the vehicle's age, location, driving history and how often you drive your RV.
How Do I Get the Best RV Insurance Coverage?
While it may be tempting to choose the cheapest policy available, there are other important variables to consider when choosing an RV insurance provider. You’ll also want to choose a carrier that has experience insuring RVs, excels in customer satisfaction and has great reviews.
Look at Company Reviews and Customer Service Ratings
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) lets consumers compare complaint indexes for insurance companies. A complaint index of 1.00 is the standard, so a company with an index of 2.0 suggests that the number of complaints it receives is twice as high than what is expected for a company its size.
We’ve provided a table looking at the complaint index for private passenger policies from several large carriers. Nationwide has the best score (0.0), followed by Auto-Owners Insurance (0.49) and State Farm (0.70).
|NAIC Complaint Index
If you’re having trouble deciding on a carrier, consider seeking recommendations on insurance providers from fellow RV owners or RV communities. Their firsthand experiences can offer valuable insights and assist you in making an informed decision.
You can then contact multiple insurance providers to request quotes for RV coverage. Alternatively, an easier option is to utilize SmartFinancial, which enables you to input simple information about your RV to get matched with a policy, sometimes in minutes.
Once you have obtained your quotes, compare the options by scrutinizing any exclusions or limitations within the policies, as well as additional benefits or discounts offered. Examples of discounts may include multi-policy discounts, safe driver discounts, RV club membership discounts or safety features discounts.
Review the Terms and Purchase the Policy
You’ll then want to thoroughly read any policy options you have to understand the terms, conditions and specific coverage requirements. Pay close attention to details such as your deductible, coverage limits, the claims processes and fees for canceling your policy.
Once you’ve purchased your policy, periodically review your coverage and shop around as your RV usage or circumstances change to ensure it continues to meet your needs.