Answers to questions about RV Repair and Maintenance from RV expert Dave Solberg, author of the “RV Handbook” and the managing editor of the RV Repair Club. This column appears Monday through Saturday in the RV Travel and RV Daily Tips newsletters. (Sign up for an email reminder for each new issue if you do not already receive one.) Today Dave discusses all aspects of RV insurance.
RV insurance – Make sure you get the right coverage!
It’s something we don’t like talking about and hope we never need it – insurance for our RV. It may sound simple: Just call your home or auto coverage company and tell them what you bought and they should be able to put together a policy, right? It’s not that easy, and if you don’t get a policy designed for your type of RVing, you will pay too much and probably not have the coverage you need.
Several years ago I spent a great deal of time with Farm & City Insurance Services (FCIS) of Forest City, Iowa, developing an insurance seminar that they could present at FMCA rallies as well as RV manufacturers’ rallies. We even did a few presentations at RV shows and both people that attended were impressed! 😆 That’s because talking about insurance is boring and who wants to sit through a presentation about paying money for something that they may or may not use later down the road? I get it. However, after seeing the specialty packages available and hearing some of the stories about not getting coverage for towed vehicles and content, you will probably be glad after you read further.
A little history on RV insurance
Forest City is the home of Winnebago Industries. Back in the early years, FCIS was a small insurance agency offering coverage for the rural town. It was thrust into motorhome insurance coverage pretty fast. It became apparent the policies for homes and cars was not adequate for several reasons. Gaylord Wooge sat down with his provider at the time and developed policies for the different ways people used their rigs. Some used them on weekends for about 4 months and then put them in storage, while others used them full time. These RV specialty insurance packages are now being used by several large providers and offer superior coverage and typically at a better price.
Here are the different RV insurance types:
Total Loss Replacement
This type of coverage is the highest level of protection as it provides a full replacement in the event your unit is totaled within the first 5 years, but it is also the most expensive! An example is you purchase a 2021 Class A for $165,000 today and for the next 5 years you will receive a new model year that matches your make and model even if the price goes up and no depreciation hit. After 5 years, you are guaranteed your purchase price of $165,000. There are some restrictions, so make sure you research it further.
This covers your rig for what you have in it versus book value. So if you purchase a 1978 Airstream and put $50,000 in renovations, you can cover it for the entire investment. Or you purchase a used unit and have the dealer do a full body paint job and upgrade the interior, you can present the bill of sale or get an appraisal to cover your investment.
Some insurance companies will not insure a unit, contents, or occupants if it is being used full-time. And some RVers don’t tell their insurance company they’re using it full-time and find out when it’s too late. There are several specialty policies that full-timers would want to package (I hate saying bundle!) such as valuable personal property, storage facility coverage if you sold the home and put items in storage, increased personal effects, and others.
It’s important to take a look at how you RV, what you are taking with you, and what you are towing with or pulling behind. Coverage for an RV such as Agreed Value and Total Loss Replacement only covers the rig, not the contents inside. It also does not cover the tow vehicle or car being towed behind. These would have to be separate vehicle insurance policies.
Campsite or Vacation Liability
This covers the owners if someone gets hurt in their rig or around the campsite such as hitting their head on the awning arm or tripping on a tent stake.
Personal Effects Coverage
Your RV coverage is just for the rig. Everything inside must be covered by a separate policy and can be purchased in increments of $1000.
Yes, there is Pet Insurance! I worked with Nationwide several years ago helping develop an educational seminar on pet insurance that we also conducted seminars on. Attendance was much higher for these! Many auto or RV policies do not cover pets traveling with and do not cover medical expenses for non-accident instances. If your pet gets sick by sampling the dump station cover, gets hit on a walk, or becomes ill requiring surgery, the costs can be astronomical!
Deductibles and discounts
If you have an RV policy with one company and an auto or truck policy with another, you could be stuck with two deductibles! So it’s a good idea to bundle (OK, I said it) with one company.
There are also companies that offer diminishing deductibles for every accident-free year. Some offer a discount if you attend an accredited driving or safety course.
Also, if you are going to store your vehicle for a long period of time, you can cancel certain coverages and only pay for comprehensive coverage that is for fire, theft, hail, and other damage.
Road service, emergency expense, and towing
There are several roadside assistance programs in the market that have technical assistance, towing, and other options. I am a big fan of Coach-Net, having worked with them for more than 35 years. As with everything RV-related, most auto plans do not cover RVs well enough or have not developed a network of RV providers for service work or towing.
I have to get all that coverage?!
It seems overwhelming; however, a good insurance agency that specializes in RV coverage will get to know you and your RV, state regulations, and what coverage best fits your needs. Plus, you want an agent that is not only knowledgeable about the options available but understands RVs! And you need one that can be reached on the phone when you need them most – during an emergency. I have found most everyone will talk to you when you are looking for a quote, but I want to talk to someone when I have a claim. All these companies touting they can save you money with an internet quote may not be the ones that provide the best coverage and customer support.
Read more from Dave here.
Dave Solberg worked at Winnebago for 15 years developing the dealer training program, as marketing manager, and conducting shows. As the owner of Passport Media Creations, Dave has developed several RV dealer training programs, the RV Safety Training program for The Recreation Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation, and the accredited RV Driving Safety program being conducted at rallies and shows around the country. Dave is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.
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