No one plans to be in an accident, but they still happen. Whether it’s a minor fender-bender or a substantial crash, RVers need to be prepared. That’s why having the right RV insurance is crucial. Since Class B vans straddle the line between automobile and recreational vehicle, insuring them can be a bit confusing.
On my insurance card, my Roadtrek is listed by its chassis—a 2000 Dodge Ram. It’s been 5 years since I bought and insured my Roadtrek, and I realized I couldn’t remember the conversation I had with my insurance rep. If it was totaled, would my insurance company pay for the value of the RV or the unmodified van?
Luckily, it took about 20 minutes on the phone to confirm everything was correct. Although my insurance card reads Dodge Ram, the insurance rep confirmed that all of the relevant information about my van was listed in the notes.
Getting the right insurance should start before you have the keys. Be prepared to shop around, advises Rob Cline, who owns RBS Agency in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“Out of the dozen or so big auto insurance companies, less than half offer RV insurance,” Cline says. Some companies allow you to add your van or motorhome to your existing auto policy, while others require you to get a separate RV policy. While you often get a better deal by bundling your RV policy with your home and auto coverage, that’s not always the case. Always get at least two or three estimates before agreeing to a policy.
What to Know About Insuring Your Van or Class B
The van or motorhome’s MSRP will often determine how much the insurance payout will be. If you bought a Sprinter van and did all the work yourself, you’ll need to provide that information to your agent. Be sure to keep all of your receipts for improvements and track the hours you spent doing the upgrades yourself. Talk to your agent about any accessories bolted onto the vehicle, like solar panels or gear racks, that you need covered under the policy.
Depending on the state where the vehicle is registered, it might make sense to change the registration from a standard van to an RV. Every state has different criteria for reclassifying a vehicle as an RV; in California, you need to fill out a Certification of Vehicle for Human Habitation and undergo an in-person inspection at the DMV, while in Illinois you need to meet four of six criteria, such as having a non-engine heat source and a septic system.
If you’re full-timing in your RV, you likely won’t have the protections you normally gain from having a homeowner or renter’s policy, so you may be encouraged to purchase a supplementary policy. Otherwise, if your bike or another high-value item is stolen or destroyed, you’re footing the bill for its replacement on your own.
Because RVers are typically traveling in areas with gravel and loose rock, Cline suggests always springing for a zero-dollar deductible on auto glass. This is especially true for larger RVs where replacing a front windshield can cost thousands of dollars.
The bigger the RV, the higher your liability limits should be. Opposing insurance companies see a large RV as proof the owner has assets, and they won’t hesitate to go after those assets.
Never buy the cheapest coverage available. In Cline’s home state of Indiana, the state-mandated accident liability minimum is about $25,000, “which someone would blow past with an ambulance ride and a trip to the emergency room,” he says. Hiking the liability limit on the policy up to $250,000 would likely only cost about $10 more a month. If you have all of your insurance with one company, Cline recommends looking into an umbrella policy with a $250,000 or greater liability limit.
If the cost of your insurance is rising out of your comfort zone, try adjusting your deductible.
Don’t rely on your RV policy for roadside assistance, at least as far as towing goes. Many policies only pay for towing to the nearest repair shop. If you have a particular mechanic you want towed to, those additional miles will be paid out of pocket. Look into a Good Sam’s or AAA membership as a supplement.
At the end of the day, your insurance should not only protect you, it should give you some peace of mind.