Recreational vehicle ownership is on the rise nationwide as more people embrace remote work and social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. But how do Virginia drivers go about insuring something that’s both a vehicle and living space?
In 2021, there were 11.2 million RV owners in North America, increasing 62% in the last 20 years, according to The New York Times. And with RVs becoming more advanced, fuel-efficient, and luxurious, it’s easy to see why people are using RVs to lead a more nomadic lifestyle.
The RV Industry Association recommends that anyone purchasing or renting an RV should make sure they have insurance to protect them in case of an accident, mechanical failure, or theft. Remember that insurance doesn’t just cover the costs to replace your RV if you’re in a wreck. Liability insurance helps to cover the costs of someone you crash into, including damages to their vehicle or even their medical costs if they are injured and sue you. Without insurance, you might lose even more than your RV… you may also lose your life savings if you’re sued for injuries or damages.
First Things First: What exactly is an RV?
An RV, or recreational vehicle, refers to a wide range of different types of vehicles - including motorhomes, camper vans, and converted busses. The vehicles are organized by classes called A, B, and C.
The vehicle class may impact your RV insurance rates. (More on that later.)
Insurance companies may have their own definitions for what an RV is, but generally, RVs are self-powered vehicles that are not towed by another vehicle. Check with your specific insurance provider to see how they define an RV and if your vehicle falls within their definition.
What’s the difference between RVs, motorhomes, campers, and travel trailers?
RVs and motorhomes typically refer to the same type of vehicle.
Travel trailers are camper trailers pulled by hitches behind smaller vehicles like a pickup truck or SUV.
Fifth-wheel trailers are trailers that need a special mount in the rear of a truck bed to tow.
A popup trailer is a smaller, fold-up trailer that gets towed behind another vehicle.
A truck camper is a small enclosure that slides onto the bed of a pickup for a small living space.
RV Insurance: Understand the basics
RV insurance protects RV owners and renters from suffering significant financial losses if they’re involved in a wreck or other event that damages or destroys their RV. RV insurance can protect you if you injure another motorist in a wreck, your possessions are destroyed, or even if you break down on the side of the road.
What does RV insurance cover?
RV insurance offers similar types of coverage as a standard auto insurance policy would.
That means you can purchase collision, comprehensive, and liability coverage for your RV.
• Bodily injury liability coverage protects you if you’re in a wreck and other people are injured.
• Property damage liability coverage protects you if you damage other people’s property in an accident.
• Collision coverage protects your RV if it’s damaged in a wreck.
• Comprehensive coverage protects your RV if it’s damaged by something other than a vehicle wreck, such as a fire or break-in.
• Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage protects you if you’re involved in a wreck with another motorist who doesn’t have insurance to reimburse you for any injuries or property damage you suffer.
• Personal injury protection covers the medical costs for you and your passengers involved in a wreck, regardless of who was at fault.
There are other options, sometimes referred to as “riders,” for additional protection for your personal belongings, equipment, attachments, and accessories that are in or attached to your RV.
Your insurance company may also offer full loss replacement coverage for newer vehicles, campsite coverage, emergency expenses, towing and roadside assistance, pet injuries, and full-timer policies.
When choosing an insurance policy, consider how often you’ll be driving your RV, how much it’s worth, and other personal factors. When you talk to your insurance agent for a quote, they will ask you many questions about how you plan on using the RV, and what kind of coverage options you'll have.
What isn't covered by RV insurance?
Basic RV insurance policies and some auto insurance policies usually only include liability insurance, which covers third-party damage or injuries. That means basic RV insurance policies and your auto insurance won't cover damage to your RV or belongings inside.
Each insurance policy is different, so talk to your provider to make sure you understand what your policy covers.
How much does RV insurance cost?
RV insurance costs depend on various factors. Generally, if you choose a policy with high deductibles, you’ll have lower monthly rates. However, you’ll pay more out-of-pocket when you file a claim before your insurance kicks in.
Factors that determine RV insurance costs
The RV class your vehicle falls under will likely impact your insurance rates.
Class A vehicles are typically luxury coaches, converted busses, and motor coaches. These vehicles can be up to 75 feet long. Class A vehicles are typically the most expensive type of RV to insure.
Class B vehicles are the smallest type of RVs. These vehicles don’t have a cab-over and can include cargo vans, travel trailers, and camper vans. Class B vehicles are usually the least expensive type of RV to insure.
Class C vehicles are typically standard cargo vans with a camper portion that extends over the cab area. Class C vehicles include fifth-wheel vehicles.
Your insurance provider will also factor in your past driving history and any additional coverage you want for accessories and personal belongings.
Living in an RV full-time
Some people live in their RVs full-time while others just use their vehicles for occasional road trips.
According to the RV Industry Association, the median annual usage for RV owners is about 20 days. For those few RV owners who have made an RV their home, they’ll want to focus on getting a good insurance policy.
Full-timers should have insurance that includes personal liability coverage as well as personal property coverage.
Personal liability coverage will protect you from being liable for anything that happens in or around your RV, similar to home insurance. Personal property coverage will protect all of the belongings that you keep in your RV.
Most RV owners don’t live in their RVs for the entire year. If your RV is parked on your property, you can ask your insurance company to suspend some insurance coverage. Sometimes your homeowner’s insurance will protect your RV if it’s sitting on your property, but you'll want to check your specific homeowner's policy for details (or ask your agent!).
If you’re storing your RV somewhere other than your personal property, your homeowner’s insurance may still cover it if your RV is listed on your homeowner’s insurance contents list. Again, please check your homeowner's insurance policy or ask your agent if this would apply to you.
Common questions about RV insurance claims
Towing a car behind an RV
What happens if the car you’re towing behind your RV gets damaged in a wreck? Most RV insurance policies won’t cover vehicles that are towed behind your RV, so you’ll need separate insurance for those vehicles to cover any damage or liability. If you plan on towing your car, be sure to mention this to your insurance agent so they can make sure you have the proper coverage.
Getting into an accident in another state
RV insurance regulations vary by state, and you’ll need the right type of coverage in whatever state you’re in. Most states require some sort of RV insurance, so you should be in the clear if you have a good RV insurance policy in place. However, if you’ve opted not to have insurance, be aware that you may be penalized if you get into an accident in another state where RV insurance is required.
RV insurance for accessories
Accessories usually aren’t covered by your standard RV insurance policy, but many insurers offer additional optional coverage for things attached to your RV like satellite dishes and awnings.
RV Insurance Discounts in Virginia
RV insurance is an added expense you’ll need to factor in, but there are plenty of ways for Virginia drivers to save some money on their insurance policies.
Off-season storage discounts
Tell your insurance provider if you’ll be storing your RV so they can suspend some of your coverage while you’re not driving it. Some insurance providers offer additional discounts if you store your RV in a professional storage unit.
This can save occasional RV users a lot of money every year - but be sure to restart your coverage before hitting the road.
You may be able to save money on insurance costs by combining your RV and auto insurance policies into a single policy. Other insurance providers may include homeowners insurance as a way to bundle your policies.
Some insurance providers offer a discount for paying your insurance annually rather than monthly.
See if your insurance provider offers a discount for electronic billing.
Safe driver discounts
You may qualify for discounts if you haven’t been in a recent accident.
Members of RV clubs, such as The National RV Association, may qualify for insurance discounts.
Accident prevention education
RV drivers can complete an approved RV safety course to qualify for discounts from some insurance providers. The RV Safety & Education Foundation has useful information about educational opportunities.
If you have a security system or other anti-theft device on your RV, your insurance provider may give you a discount.
One final note…
Virginia is one of just two states that does not require specific RV insurance, according to the Virginia Corporation Commission. However, if you are financing an RV, your lender will likely require that you have insurance before they’ll loan you money regardless of your state’s RV insurance laws.
Virginia motorists who don’t want or need RV insurance can choose to pay the Uninsured Motorist Fee to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to drive their RV (or regular vehicle) without insurance coverage.
Remember that if you plan on driving your RV to other states, you’ll need to have insurance coverage based on that state’s requirements in case you’re in an accident while you’re traveling.
RV insurance in Virginia you can count on
RVs are a great way to explore the state of Virginia and beyond, but make sure you and your loved ones are protected with the best insurance coverage.
Ronnie Shriner Insurance has proudly served residents in the Richmond, Virginia area since 1989. Based in Glen Allen, we specialize in tailored insurance plans based on each person’s specific needs, and we’re happy to help you select the best RV insurance option for you.