Do You Need RV Insurance?
Last Updated on May 10, 2020
RV insurance protects recreational vehicles (RVs) from unexpected costs, accidents, and damages. But do you really need RV insurance?
Most states require you to get RV insurance if your RV is a motorhome (i.e. if you’re driving it on the road).
You may also be required to buy RV insurance if you are leasing or financing your RV. If you do not own your RV outright, then your financing company may require RV insurance.
Many RV owners will also buy RV insurance for added protection – even when it’s optional. RV insurance can protect your RV against unexpected costs. Most people can’t afford to lose an RV that’s worth up to $400,000, so they buy insurance for added protection.
Below, we’re explaining all you need to know about RV insurance, including whether or not you need RV insurance – and when RV insurance may be a good idea.
When is RV Insurance Required?
States have different laws for RVs and insurance. In most states, however, RVs are required to have the same liability insurance as any other vehicle when driving on any roads in the state.
If your RV is a motorhome, then you will need liability insurance. Liability insurance protects other people against damages you cause (through bodily injury liability coverage). It also protects other people’s property against damages you cause (through property damage liability coverage).
You may also need RV insurance if you don’t own your RV – say, if it’s a rental vehicle or if you are financing the RV.
We’ll talk about unique RV insurance situations down below. Generally, however, you need RV insurance in the following situations:
- Your RV is a motorhome (Class A or B)
- You do not own your RV outright (i.e. you took out a loan to finance your RV purchase)
- You are renting your RV
Most states require motorhomes to have liability insurance. Full coverage insurance for RVs, meanwhile, is optional in every state. Liability insurance only protects other people, while full coverage protects other people and yourself and your property.
How RV Insurance Works
RV insurance works just like car insurance. There are four main components of RV insurance:
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage (Required): This covers any damage you cause to other people on the road while driving your RV, including any drivers or passengers injured as a result of your actions.
Property Damage Liability Coverage (Required): This covers any damage you cause to other property on the road, including other vehicles or a neighbor’s fence.
Collision Coverage (Optional): This covers damage to your RV during a collision that was your fault, including the cost of repairing that damage.
Comprehensive Coverage (Optional): This covers non-accident-related damage to your RV, including damage caused by fires, hailstorms, windstorms, vandalism, or theft, among other incidents.
Generally, bodily injury and property damage liability coverage are required when driving your RV on public roads, while collision and comprehensive coverage are optional in all states.
How Much Coverage Should You Get for Your RV?
For most RV owners, we recommend “full coverage” insurance. Of course, full coverage RV insurance is optional in every state. Where RV insurance is required, you only need to purchase the legal minimum. Many RV owners, however, will still want to buy full coverage insurance.
Without full coverage insurance, your RV is not protected against collisions, hailstorms, theft, or vandalism. If you collide with another vehicle, then you will need to pay to repair your RV out of pocket. Or, your RV is damaged in a hailstorm, windstorm, or fire, then you will need to cover these costs out of pocket.
For many RV owners, their RV is a substantial investment. Most RV owners cannot simply afford to replace the RV out of pocket. Whether it’s a $50,000 or $400,000 RV, your RV has significant value. If you want to protect that value from most situations, then you need full coverage insurance.
Consider the value of your RV. Then consider the likelihood of a loss – like a fire, RV theft, vandalism, or other issues. Do you have enough cash to cover this loss out of pocket? If you do not have enough cash to cover this loss, or if you don’t want to use your cash to cover this loss, then full coverage RV insurance may be a good idea.
Why Do Financed RVs Require RV Insurance?
If you are financing or leasing your RV, then the lender will require you to have full coverage RV insurance. The RV is the collateral of the loan, and the lender wants to protect that collateral.
If you crash your RV and you still owe money on the RV, then your full coverage RV insurance will cover the loss. If you did not have full coverage RV insurance, then you would be required to pay this loss out of pocket, paying off the remainder of your loan.
Why Do Rental RVs Require RV Insurance?
A rental RV is your responsibility when it’s in your possession, which is why it’s important to make sure you have insurance coverage on your RV.
You may already have rental RV insurance through your ordinary car insurance policy or credit card. In other cases, your RV insurance is built into your rental rate.
It’s unlikely for ordinary car insurance policies to extend coverage to RVs that you purchased. However, certain car insurance policies will extend coverage to rental RVs.
If you have a normal car insurance policy, for example, and you decide to rent an RV for a week-long family vacation, then your car insurance policy may cover it.
Alternatively, all RV rental companies sell their own RV insurance. Some companies bundle this insurance into the price of the rental. Others offer additional coverage, collision damage waivers, and other RV insurance options.
Check with your credit card company before renting an RV: many credit cards offer rental car insurance. Some extend this coverage to rental RVs, while others specifically exclude RVs.
When Is RV Insurance Optional?
Up above, we discussed the situations where RV insurance is mandatory. However, there are certain situations where RV insurance is optional, including:
- Your RV is towable, but it’s not driveable (Class C)
- You own your RV outright, have no financing or loan for the RV, and live in a state where RV insurance or liability insurance is optional
If your RV is a fifth-wheel, pop-up, or travel trailer, for example, then your RV should not require its own insurance policy.
Most vehicle insurance policies extend coverage to anything towed behind your vehicle – including a fifth-wheel, pop-up, or travel trailer, among other RVs and trailers. As long as you are towing your RV behind your vehicle while it’s on the road, your car insurance should extend to that RV.
There is some flexibility with this rule. If your fifth-wheel becomes unhinged from your vehicle and smashes into the car behind you, then your car insurance should cover the damage caused by your RV.
Meanwhile, if you have already paid off your RV, then you may not require any type of RV insurance. You own your RV outright, and it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to protect your RV with insurance.
Most states still require liability insurance on all motorhomes, including Class A or B RVs that you drive on state roads. However, certain states, including Virginia and New Hampshire, do not have specific liability insurance requirements for RVs or any vehicles (although most drivers in these states still get liability insurance anyway).
Where to Buy RV Insurance
Most major insurance companies offer RV insurance. In most cases, you will be able to buy RV insurance from your current car insurance company.
Call your insurer or insurance agent. Ask to add RV insurance to your policy.
Or, shop around for RV insurance to get a better rate. Some companies specialize in offering cheap liability insurance for RVs, for example, while other companies have high-end RV insurance plans with all of the bells and whistles.
Final Word on RV Insurance
Whether RV insurance is required or optional, many RV owners buy RV insurance anyway. Almost every state requires a motorhome (an RV that you drive) to have liability insurance at a minimum. If you are leasing, financing, or renting an RV, then you may also be required to have full coverage RV insurance.
If your RV is not a motorhome, and you own your RV outright, then you may not need special RV insurance. Your auto insurance covers RVs that are towed behind your vehicle (like a fifth wheel).
As with many insurance questions, RV insurance comes down to risk. Some people are willing to pay more for peace of mind, while others are willing to risk the value of their RV.