OK, so you know that you’re required to have car insurance, but what about your RV? Do you need to insure it separately? And if so, what kind of coverage do you need?
First, it’s important to specify which kind of RV you’re talking about. Do you have a motor home or a travel trailer?
If you have a motor home — meaning that you have a recreational vehicle that operates under its own power and has permanent living quarters attached to it — then you’re required to insure it under California law. Just like with “regular” vehicles, you’ll need liability limits of at least:
- $15,000 for the injury or death of one person
- $30,000 for the injury or death of more than one person
- $5,000 for property damage
If you have a trailer that’s towed by your vehicle — like a fifth-wheel trailer or a pop-up trailer — you’re not required by California law to get separate insurance coverage for it. However, getting some is a good idea!
There are certain forms of coverage you can add onto your insurance policy to better meet your exact needs and wants, like:
Vacation liability coverage
In some cases, this coverage is included as long as you have collision and comprehensive coverage, but it’s important enough that you need to consider getting it if it doesn’t come with your standard policy. Or, if your policy does come with this coverage, you may want to pay for higher limits.
True to its name, this coverage pays for any injuries or property damage that you’re liable for while your RV is being used as your temporary residence. That way, if your dog bites someone at the campsite or your friend trips and falls stepping onto your RV while you’re staying down at the lake, you’ll be covered for the medical and legal bills that arise.
Personal effects coverage
Your homeowner’s insurance may cover your belongings if they’re damaged or stolen while they’re inside your house, but what happens when you pack them up and hit the road in your RV? Personal effects coverage is designed to protect the assets inside your RV — like your jewelry, your laptop, and your clothes.
Some RV insurance policies will automatically come with personal effects coverage, but it’s important to make sure that the coverage is high enough to meet your needs. You can always purchase higher limits if you make a habit of travelling with expensive stuff.
Attached accessories coverage
Personal effects coverage is typically limited to things that are not physically attached to your RV, but what about the extra accessories you’ve invested in — like special antennas, your air conditioner, or window awnings? These may or may not be covered in a standard RV insurance policy. If they’re not, you can opt for attached accessories coverage. And like the name implies, these accessories have to be physically attached to your RV to qualify for the coverage.
Even if you have attached accessories coverage in your standard policy, make sure you’re comfortable with the limits. Just like the personal effects coverage, the standard limits may not be high enough for your specific situation.
(And while you’re at it, see how your policy covers your attached accessories and personal effects. Some policies will pay you the full amount if the worst happens, while some only pay a depreciated amount. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting so that you’re not surprised if you ever have to file a claim!)
Emergency expense coverage
What happens if your RV breaks down and you have to stay in a hotel until it can be fixed? If you don’t want to foot the hotel bill yourself, emergency expense coverage is a great add-on to have. It will pay for your lodging expenses if you’re unable to stay in your RV. Your policy will specify how far you have to be from home to take advantage of this coverage, so read the fine print carefully!
If you’ve decided to make your RV your personal home, full-timers coverage will act similarly to homeowner’s insurance — meaning that it will come with things like coverage for your personal effects and liability coverage.
What about saving money? Do the same discounts apply to RV insurance?
If you only use your RV certain times of the year — like only on summer vacation, or only at Christmastime, for example — ask your agent if your policy offers a “Storage Option”. If it does, you can pay less in premiums during the months when your RV is tucked away and not in use. Best of all, you’ll still be covered for things like storm damage, fire damage, and theft even while your RV is stored.
Bottom line — you won’t really be able to hit the road with peace of mind until you get your RV insurance needs taken care of!
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