Recreational vehicles, also known as RVs, come in all shapes and sizes, from motorhomes and fifth wheels to pop-up campers and travel trailers. Depending on the type of RV you own, you may or may not require RV insurance.
The main difference in coverage requirements is simple. If you tow it, insurance is probably optional. If you can get it from point A to point B without the help of another vehicle, you will probably be required to purchase insurance coverage. Put another way, any vehicle you drive on the road—and that includes motorhomes—must be insured.
You will be required to have minimum liability within your state in order to legally drive on the road. More coverage is available and optional unless required by a lender.
How to Determine If You Need RV Insurance on a Camper
Since most campers are towed behind a vehicle and not driven by themselves, RV insurance is optional according to most states’ laws. However, a lender can require full coverage to be carried in order to protect the asset. If you took out a loan to purchase your RV, you can bet that you’ll probably be required to have full coverage.
Even though coverage on trailers is, in many cases, optional without a loan, that doesn't mean it's not a good idea. With a newer camper, it is recommended to carry full coverage so you do not lose your investment. And remember, if you can drive it, then you're legally required to insure it just like any other vehicle.
What Does RV Insurance Cost?
The average cost of auto insurance for an RV or camper can vary depending on your provider. With Progressive, for example, the average premium for a 12-month RV insurance policy was $502 for a travel trailer, and $848 for a motorhome in 2020. According to Overland Insurance Services, though, full-time RV insurance costs an average of $1,500, and will fluctuate depending on the policies and size of the RV.
The cost of RV insurance varies from person to person, as it depends on numerous factors, including the type of motorhome or travel trailer, location, usage, and your driving history.
What Does RV insurance Cover?
Here are the different types of coverage for RVs and campers:
- Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability
- Uninsured Motorist
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
- Limited Property Damage
- Property Protection
Liability insurance on the vehicle you use to tow the trailer will usually extend to the trailer, but you probably need to purchase comprehensive and collision separately.
Specialized Coverage Types for RVs and Campers
Aside from the standard set of coverage on RV policies, companies often offer specialized coverage, which can come in handy at the time of loss. What you may not think of prior to a claim is your custom equipment and personal effects that can be costly if you do not have the coverage included in your RV policy.
Most companies offer specialized coverage on both RV motorhomes and campers, all described in detail below.
Total Loss Replacement
Total loss replacement is usually only available on previously untitled RVs up to one or a few model years old. Other RVs are insured for agreed value or actual cash value. A claim can be difficult though—make sure you know how your RV insurance policy reads so you are not surprised at the time of a loss.
Custom equipment is important coverage for those RVs with custom parts. If you have upgraded your interior or tricked out the exterior, you'll want to increase the automatic limit. A standard policy usually comes with a $1,000 limit of coverage. With the high price of custom equipment, it is easy to go over the standard limit. If you are customizing your RV, keep track of how much you invest in custom equipment and insure it accordingly.
Vacation liability is commonly included with a set limit of $10,000 as long as comprehensive and collision coverage is selected. It pays up to specified limits for bodily injury and property damage as a result of an accident that takes place while you're using your RV as a temporary vacation residence. Higher limits are available. Vacation liability is usually only available for pleasure users.
Roadside assistance covers towing for a disabled RV. It provides towing to the nearest qualified repair facility and necessary labor when RVs are disabled due to:
- Mechanical or electrical breakdown
- Battery failure
- Flat tire
- Insufficient supply of fuel oil, water, or other fluids
- Entrapment in snow, mud, water, or sand within 100 feet of the roadway
Personal effects are not usually included in an RV policy. The personal effects coverage will insure your belongings in a covered loss while vacationing in an RV. A homeowner's policy might cover your belongings, but your homeowner's deductible would apply.
Check your homeowner's policy to verify coverage, especially if you often travel across state lines. Most homeowners and renters insurance policies also don’t cover you while you are in the five boroughs of New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, or the Bronx), so you will need to be careful and consult an insurance expert if you’re driving through the Big Apple in your RV.
Specialized coverage is just that—specialized. There is nothing wrong with getting insurance for just the RV and opting out of all the extras. What's important is that you understand what's covered and what isn't, and plan accordingly. Make what you want clear to your agent when purchasing the policy so you only pay for what you need.
RVs are a popular form of vacation for many Americans. They offer a great escape from city and suburban life. Make sure you can enjoy your vacation time without worrying about a potential loss. Know whether you need RV insurance, and what coverage to purchase if you do.