How to Find the Right Insurance for Your RV

January 26, 2006
Filed under Camping News

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For many travel-trailer owners, insurance shopping can begin and end with their local insurance agent. “If your camp trailer is something you could dispose of financially, you wouldn’t have to do anything,” says Farmers Insurance Agent Rick Jackson. “You could just hook it up to your truck. As soon as it’s hooked up to your truck it’s insured by your vehicle for liability purposes.”
“But if you want damage coverage for the trailer, whether it be from an accident, wind, hail, lightning, theft or any kind of peril; then we would endorse it (add it as an addendum) on your truck policy. That makes insuring your RV very inexpensive because you’re already paying for liability coverage through your tow-vehicle policy, “ says Jackson.
Don’t stop your research there, though. Your auto insurance agent may not know all there is to know about RV insurance. To make sure you’re getting the right information, it may be best to contact an insurance company that specializes in RV insurance policies — some are very different from auto coverage.
As Karen Palmer, national RV product manager with Progressive Insurance, puts it, “It’s not an auto. You’re going to use it differently and you are going to need different protection.”

Based on much research and on suggestions from the insurance experts we interviewed, we have compiled a list of 10 important question you should answer before buying RV insurance. To find the best insurance fit, do not sign on the bottom line until you have satisfactorily answered the following:

  • What type of coverage is required in my state or province?
    In general, if your RV is motorized, you will need liability insurance. In some states, coverage requirements increase as the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) increases.

  • What about full-replacement-value coverage?
    This option is available through companies specializing in RV insurance. The lending institution that holds your loan usually demands it to protect the collateral.
    “With full-replacement coverage, if you are the original owner of the vehicle or of the camper or of the trailer, and you’re in the first five years of the camper’s life, we’ll get you a brand new one,” says Lev Vaysman, account manager/RV marketing of GMAC Insurance.

  • Am I duplicating coverage already paid for through my tow vehicle?
    “If you have added your RV to your auto policy, you will typically have the same liability limits for both vehicles,” says Monique Thibodeaux, director of marketing with RV Alliance America. “While that limit may be appropriate for a car, it may not be enough to cover the accident damage that a large RV can cause.”

  • What if someone gets injured at my campsite?
    “When you park it and set it up as a campsite, it is no longer a vehicle that’s traveling; it becomes a temporary residence,” says Palmer of Progressive. If a guest, invited or otherwise, is injured where your RV is set up and you are found to be negligent (or responsible), you will need coverage.

  • Are the contents of my RV covered for loss?
    “You’re transporting a lot of gear and in your camper. If that property is damaged or stolen, regular car insurance won’t cover it,” says Vaysman of GMAC. “But if you have what many RV insurance companies call ‘personal effects coverage,’ your property will be replaced.”

  • Doesn’t my homeowners insurance cover personal property inside the RV?
    “You may think that your personal property is covered under your homeowners policy,” says Thibodeaux. “To some extent, that is true. However, the coverage you need for your personal property may be excluded by your homeowners policy. For example, if you get into a collision and your personal property is destroyed, that would be excluded by your homeowners policy because there’s no provision for coverage of property damaged by a collision—homes don’t collide.”

  • What about the deductible?
    Generally, lower premiums mean higher deductibles. However, the downside is that if you have a claim, you may have to pay for it all out-of-pocket because your deductible is so high. Balance your willingness to put out cash in the event of an accident against your need to keep the monthly premium payments low.

  • Am I over-insured?
    This is a question that only a careful consideration of the value of your RV, the type of use the RV gets, and your total assets and financial exposure with your insurance agent can answer.

  • Does my policy cover towing of my RV?
    RVs (motorized or towable) are larger than typical vehicles, and so incur higher towing costs. Most specialized RV insurance policies make towing allowances part of the policy.

  • Do I have to pay premiums during the off-season when I don’t use my RV?
    With some companies such as GMAC, you can suspend your liability and collision coverage while your RV is in storage and save money on your premium.

Much of what you purchase with insurance is peace of mind — that mental security blanket that helps you sleep comfortably regardless of where you’re camped. Some RV owners are more comfortable taking risks than you may want to except. They figure the savings in premiums are worth the gamble of not having some types of RV insurance coverage. Others calculate that the loss would be too much of a financial burden. For them, increased coverage means decreased anxiety.
While many of the decisions associated with RV insurance have to do with dollars and cents, remember that you are also purchasing peace of mind while you are enjoying the camping life.

Before you see your local insurance agent or log on to the web to search for other alternatives, you need to understand the basic insurance lingo.

  • Deductible: The amount an insured person must pay before the insurance company pays the remainder of each covered loss, up to the policy limits.
  • Collision Insurance: This covers loss to the insured person’s own vehicle caused by its collision with another vehicle or object.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: Covers damage to a vehicle caused by an event other than a collision or overturn. Examples include fire, theft, vandalism, and falling objects.
  • Liability: Money to cover you in the event you are found at fault in a lawsuit.
  • Premium: The amount of money you pay for insurance.

Many of the policy features we’ve discussed are found only through companies with RV insurance specialists. These companies include:
Progressive (800-539-7415; progressive.com), Aon Recreation Insurance (800-521-2942; aonrecreation.com), GMAC Insurance (866-646-1755; rvinsurance.com), Good Sam Club’s National General (800-234-3450; goodsamclub.com), Foremost Insurance Company (800-237-2060; foremost.com), AARP Insurance (800-541-3717; aarp.com), and Explorer RV Insurance (888-774-6778; explorerrv.com)

Check with your insurance provider before adventuring out of the United States to make sure that your RV is covered for international travel. Some policies automatically extend comprehensive and collision coverage to Mexico but must be combined with the purchase of a Mexican liability policy. Contact: Progressive (800-539-7415; progressive.com) Sanborn’s (800-222-0158; sanbornsinsurance.com), or Oscar Padilla (800-258-8600; mexicaninsurance.com).

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