Does Your Auto Insurance Cover Your RV or Trailer in California?

Millennial couple sits by fire outside of camper

It depends on whether or not that additional vehicle is motorized. If it is, then most likely not. Insurance companies base this decision on whether or not your RV or trailer is considered a self-contained vehicle or a towed object.

Let’s take it a step at a time and figure out what your existing auto insurance policy covers and the possible benefits of obtaining a separate insurance policy for your RV or trailer.

First, What Do We Mean by RV and Trailer?

The distinction is generally between motorized and non-motorized vehicles: those that can be driven vs. those that must be towed.

RV stands for recreation vehicle, and that definition from an insurance standpoint might encompass more than you might expect. Sure, it’s those big self-contained vehicles and temporary homes you see lumbering down the road all summer long. But the category also includes a wider range of self-contained motorized vehicles that you don’t tow. Camper vans, mini motor homes, and even converted buses, among other forms of transport, fall into this group. We’ll refer to the coverage associated with these vehicles as motorhome/RV insurance.

Non-motorized vehicles, such as campers and small trailer homes, must be towed. As a further distinction, this post will only address trailers pulling non-motorized homes, not those that tow boats, motorcycles, or other personal or commercial items. This coverage is called travel trailer insurance.

Motorized RVs and trailers are treated quite differently when it comes to insurance, so let’s look at them one at a time.

You Need Motorhome/RV Insurance for Your Motorized Vehicle in CA

You can’t add your motorized recreational vehicle to your existing auto insurance policy. Special motorhome/RV insurance is mandatory in every US state except New Hampshire and Virginia. Those are the two states that also don’t demand auto insurance coverage.

But with the high cost of RVs and the relative difficulty in driving them, it would be unwise to not have motorhome/RV insurance even in the non-mandatory states. Besides, if your vehicle is financed, your lender will almost certainly make this coverage a condition of obtaining the loan.

Determining the rates you pay for your motorhome/RV insurance coverage starts with a lot of back and forth between you and your agent, as well as being a smart consumer and doing some comparison shopping for RV insurance. That’s because an RV is both a home and transportation, so you should determine how it will be primarily used.

Will it be taken out only for the occasional long weekend or week’s vacation? Or are you planning on living in your RV? This is one big factor that will determine what you pay.

Camper being towed on a highway

How Does RV/Motorhome Insurance Work?

It works much like regular auto insurance, with insurance types and amounts agreed upon by you and your insurer. It’s one thing if you suffer a fender bender while on the road and quite another if your RV is broken into and a large-screen television is taken. Let your insurance agent ask the questions that will help you determine your premiums.

Much like your auto insurance, you’ll have coverage options that will include the following:

  • Liability pays for the damage incurred on others if your accident is your fault (unless your accident takes place in a no-fault state).
  • Collision covers on-road damage caused by collision with other vehicles or with stationary objects such as walls, fences, or trees. (Remember, you’re likely driving a large and perhaps unfamiliar vehicle, so the risk of such an event might be higher than when you drive a smaller vehicle.)
  • Comprehensive covers off-road accidents and incidents. This can include theft and vandalism, fire, flooding, or other non-driving misadventures.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist or hit and run kicks in when the accident is caused by an irresponsible party who either has no insurance or an inadequate level of coverage to pay for your damages or when the driver doesn’t stop and is never identified.
  • RV Towing represents a major difference between your standard auto insurance policy and coverage for your recreational vehicle. That’s because it’s a much more involved and costly process to tow an RV than a car.

Your mandatory level of coverage will be determined by where you live. If you’re in a state that allows liability as a minimum auto insurance coverage level, the same regulations will apply to your RV insurance. However, when you consider the high cost of your RV investment, it might make you insist on more than minimum coverage.

You should also consider your deductible, which works exactly the same way as with your auto insurance policy. The deductible is the amount you’ll be responsible for before your RV insurance covers the rest. So if you have a $1,000 deductible, that’s the amount you’ll pay out of pocket if you suffer $3,000 in damages. Your insurer will pay the remaining $2,000.

Since a higher deductible results in your insurer not having to pay as high a settlement cost, you’ll pay less in premiums. Just make sure that you can pay your deductible amount if needed, so it won’t hold up repairs if your RV is damaged.

Whatever you decide on all of these coverage options, it all starts with that in-depth discussion with your agent.

Can My Travel Trailer Be Added to My Existing Auto Insurance Policy?

Yes. Since it’s a non-motorized vehicle that must be towed, your travel trailer is not treated like a separate vehicle. Therefore, you can easily add it to your auto insurance policy.

But it’s also possible — and perhaps wise — to explore additional travel trailer insurance coverage that adds another level of protection to your trailer home. This should be another point of discussion with your insurance agent.

Find Affordable RV and Motorhome Insurance in California Today

Thinking of buying an RV or trailer? You’ll want to discuss your motorhome/RV insurance or travel trailer insurance options with an independent agent who can show you affordable coverage from major carriers. Our Cost-U-Less agents specialize in finding the right coverage for you at a price you can afford.

Call Cost-U-Less at (800) 390-4071, or get a fast and free RV insurance quote online. We also invite you to find a Cost-U-Less location near you.