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Do you need RV insurance?

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

A recreational vehicle or motorhome is unique. Is it a home or is it a vehicle? Well, it can be both, meaning your car insurance policy won’t properly cover it — and neither will your homeowners policy. If you own a motorhome, you’ll need RV insurance. 

You’re about to learn everything you need to know about insurance for RVs including what you need to look out for, whether you need it, the best RV insurance and RV insurance cost.

What is RV insurance?

RV insurance covers your recreational vehicle against many of the hazards a standard auto insurance policy would. It’s designed for a variety of RV types (towed or independently driven) including:

  • Recreational vehicles
  • Motorhomes
  • Camper vans
  • Travel trailers
  • Converted buses
  • Luxury coaches

Is RV insurance required?

Just like car insurance is mandatory in almost all states, so is RV insurance. If you’re planning to buy a motorhome or camper trailer, plan to budget some money for the RV insurance cost. Each state has its own minimum required liability insurance amount that pays for the property and losses others experience if you’re responsible for an accident. 

Considering the cost of a motorhome, you may want to skip the cheap RV insurance and choose a policy that goes beyond the state minimum liability requirements. Liability insurance for RV or campers only pays for damages and losses to third parties. The best RV insurance will also protect your investment (and the belongings inside) if it’s damaged or totaled in an accident.

Towable RV insurance: What are the requirements?

There are three conditions when you won’t need towable RV insurance. They are:

  • The camper or trailer must be towed by a vehicle.
  • You own the trailer free and clear and you’re not making monthly payments to a lender on it.
  • Your state does not require you to insure the towable camper.

If you don’t meet all three conditions, you’ll need RV insurance for your towable trailer. Otherwise, your car insurance will cover the trailer you’re towing.

Driveable RV insurance: What are the requirements?

A driveable RV is more like a motor vehicle and will need RV insurance. Each state’s insurance requirements are different — you’ll need to check with your local DMV or insurance provider to find out how much insurance you’ll need. In general, states require RV owners to keep a minimum of liability insurance. If you’re at fault in an accident or property loss, liability insurance covers the other party’s medical bills, property damages and your legal bills. 

The state’s minimum requirements may not be the best RV insurance for your needs. States don’t require any coverage for your motorhome or property. If you go with the minimum liability insurance, any damage or loss to your RV will have to come out of your own pocket.

What does RV insurance cover?

Choosing the best RV insurance takes a little research. To decide what type of coverage is right for you, take a closer look at what your RV insurance cost covers:

  • Liability: The state’s minimum requirement, which includes a dollar amount for bodily injury liability per person and per accident, as well as an amount for third-party property damage.
  • Medical payments: Pays for medical bills and lost wages of passengers and the driver.
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist: Steps in to cover your expenses if the person at fault did not have insurance or didn’t have enough to pay for all your damages.

The three parts mentioned are usually included in a basic RV insurance policy, but may not be enough. If you notice, none of the above pay for damages to your motorhome if you’re at fault in an accident. Consider adding the following optional coverages:

  • Collision: Pays for damage to your RV, regardless of who is at fault.
  • Comprehensive: Protects your camper or motorhome from damages not caused by a collision, such as theft, vandalism or natural disasters.
  • Roadside assistance: Provides towing and emergency roadside service 24 hours a day.
  • Replacement cost: If the interior of your motorhome features high-end items such as a flatscreen TV or an upgraded stovetop or appliances, the policy will pay you the cost of replacing the items with new ones.
  • Vacation liability: Covers you if the RV was being used as a temporary residence while away on vacation.

How to get RV insurance

Getting insurance for RVs is not much different than getting car insurance. If you’re already insured with a company you’re happy with, check with them first and ask them for a quote. You’ll need to provide them with the motorhome’s basic details, such as make, model, year, vehicle identification number (VIN), approximate cost of the contents inside and miles. 

You may get cheap RV insurance through your current insurance company because of the discounts you’d be eligible for, such as bundled policies and long-time customer. Once you have a quote, gather a few others to find the best and most affordable policy for your needs. The following insurers are just some of the companies that offer RV insurance:

  • Allstate
  • Esurance
  • Farmers
  • Good Sam
  • The Hartford (AARP)
  • National General
  • Nationwide
  • Progressive
  • Safeco

How much does RV insurance cost?

Answering the question of “how much is RV insurance” isn’t so clear cut. It all depends on your driving history, creditworthiness and the motorhome’s value and age, just to name a few factors.

To generalize, The Wandering RV quotes:

  • North Carolina (the cheapest): Averages $860 per year
  • Michigan (the most expensive): Averages $4,490 per year

Even state premiums could vary thousands of dollars, depending on the motorhome. In California, a basic, towable trailer could cost about $800 annually while a higher-end luxury coach could come in at over $4,000 per year. 

Frequently asked questions

What about when I’m not using my RV?

If you’d like to save on your RV insurance, some insurance companies, such as Farmers, give you the option of changing your policy out to storage-only RV insurance during the off-season. This policy reduces your coverage quite a bit so be sure your RV’s storage location is secure.

What if my RV is my permanent home?

If you’re planning on living full-time in your RV, insurers such as Progressive offer full-time RV insurance to cover your special needs. Full-time RV insurance cost is typically higher than a standard policy but will protect you against risks you may face when you live in your RV.

Does RV insurance cover water damage?

Many RVs are vulnerable to water damage due to the toilet, shower and sink commonly fitted inside. A basic liability-only policy won’t cover water damage, so it’s best to speak with your insurer and opt for comprehensive coverage.

Does RV insurance protect my property against a break-in?

A basic liability-only policy will not cover loss of property in case of theft. You’ll need to add comprehensive coverage to your insurance policy to be fully covered.

The takeaway

If you’re planning on buying a motorhome or camper, you’ll need RV insurance because your car insurance policy won’t cover your motorhome.

  • All states require motorhome owners to have at least a minimum amount of liability insurance.
  • The only type of motorhome that may not require RV insurance is a towable-trailer style, if it’s paid in full and the state has no insurance requirements.
  • You may be able to switch to a storage-only cheap RV insurance during the off-season.

Motorhomes aren’t cheap — and neither is an accident in one. The last thing you want to worry about is being financially liable for causing an accident and not having proper RV insurance. Most states only require minimal liability insurance that protects others if you’re at fault. Consider upgrading your policy with comprehensive and collision coverage to pay for any damages or losses caused to your RV.

Cynthia Paez Bowman

Writer

Cynthia splits her time between Los Angeles, CA and San Sebastian, Spain. She travels to Africa and the Middle East regularly to consult with women’s NGOs about small business development.

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