Insurance Considerations for RV Owners

Every year growing numbers of us pull our RV’s out of storage and hit the road. One of the most important and frequently overlooked issues in preparing for the trip is insurance. RV insurance is more complicated than simple auto insurance. Too many people think they can just add their Recreational Vehicle to their car insurance policy.

Adding an RV to your regular auto policy will not give you the complete protection that a specialized RV insurance policy can give you. After all there are many differences between any RV and an automobile. Your RV is a home on wheels; it contains a great deal more personal property and represents a significantly greater investment than your car. Also it has a kitchen, a bathroom, heating and cooling systems and an electric panel, in other words it’s more like a house than it is an automobile.

Many RV’s cost as much as a luxury home and present other unique challenges to an insurance policy; vacation/trip interruption issues, towing, breakdown, generators and appliances, awnings, slide-outs, specialized repair requirements and liability issues.

Just think of the situations an RV faces on the road; hurricane force winds, water exposure equal to a flood and extended vibrations worse than most Earthquakes. You drive this home on the interstate at speeds of 75 mph (Category 1 hurricane force) in a heavy rain storm on some of our aging freeways (jolting and vibrations). How many of our real houses could stand up to this kind of abuse?

Also you have to consider the specialized equipment and costs of some of the RV features; awnings, generators, slide-out rooms, skylights, satellite domes, TV antennas, roof mounted air conditioner units, leveling legs and steps.

Most RV dealerships offer specialized RV insurance through the dealership and there are many companies that specialize in this type of insurance as well. You can get an insurance policy for every type and age recreational vehicle out there.

One of the most common claims associated with RV’s is body damage from overhangs and gas station canopies; RV’s are generally 11′ to 13’+ high. We are always careful about that additional width but it’s so easy to forget our height requirements, there’s no mirror for that! Find out the overall height clearance needed for your rig and keep it posted prominently and handy to the drivers’ seat of your RV or tow vehicle. A related type of these claims comes from forgetting to lower the TV antenna. The antenna itself may not cost much to replace but if it punches a hole in the roof you’re in for a real problem and a much more expensive repair.

Another common cause of loss for RV’s is fire. The refrigerator, water heater, furnace, stove and generator are all sources of potential propane (or other fuel) leaks and fires. The propane system needs to be checked and maintained on a regular basis.

A third common reason for insurance claims on our RV’s is damage from tires. A blowout, tread separation or even a standard flat will almost always cause exterior body damage but can also throw pieces of tire up through the vehicle causing extensive interior damage and even physical harm to occupants. The single most important precaution you can take with an RV is to check your tires regularly. Keep the pressure at the recommend level for the tire specifications and weight it carries and watch for signs of wear. RV tires are seldom replaced due to tread wear instead they are normally replaced due to age, dry rot, cracking and ozone or UV deterioration.

An RV is even susceptible to damage when it’s stored. There are several possible perils to anticipate and take precautions against during storage periods. You have to consider the weather in your area of the country. The most obvious problem is freezing of water supply, waste lines and holding tanks. Not as obvious are heat or sun exposure causing stress to tires, propane and other fuel components. You should have your rig properly winterized or otherwise protected from the elements appropriate to your area.

Another storage issue is rodent infestation. Mice, squirrels and other pests can do a lot of damage to the interior and mechanical components of an RV. You can do a lot to protect yourself by thoroughly cleaning all food items and storage areas prior to storage. As with the weather the precautions you need to take will vary with your storage location.

It is very important to get good insurance coverage for your RV. Talk to a qualified specialty insurance professional or a full service RV dealer to explore your options. Shop around, do some online research and you can find a company and policy that will suit your needs. We will cover some of the coverage’s you may need in our next article.