Published: August 2015
Taking a road trip with a "house on wheels" can be a great way to see the country. If you're renting a motorhome, it's smart to check your insurance options before you hit the highway.
In some cases, your existing auto or homeowners insurance may offer some protection for a rented motorhome. However, you might want to purchase additional temporary insurance through the rental company.
Driving-related accidents. Your car insurance policy may provide some coverage for a motorhome rental. Auto insurance is generally designed to cover driving-related accidents, like rear-ending another driver or damaging property while backing into a campsite, says the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA).
What's covered on your car. Many auto policies extend the same coverage you have on your car — for example, liability, collision and comprehensive coverage — to a rented motorhome on four wheels. As you're planning your trip, be sure to check with your agent on whether your auto policy offers this type of coverage.
Incidents that aren't auto-related. Your auto policy probably won't protect your rental against non-auto accidents. If, for example, a cooking fire inside the motorhome damages the vehicle or injures someone, your auto policy probably wouldn't cover the incident.
Motorhomes with more than four wheels. If you rent a motorhome with more than four wheels, your auto insurance likely will not cover the vehicle. In this case, you might want to purchase a supplemental motorhome rental insurance policy from the rental company.
Other drivers. Who's driving the motorhome might matter. Depending on your insurance company and the state in which you're insured, your auto policy might extend to a rented motorhome only if you (the insured person named on your policy) or your spouse is driving. In other states, the auto insurance policy would apply to the motorhome even if another relative who lived with you (your adult son or your live-in father) were driving.
Personal property. Your homeowners policy may cover personal belongings in the motorhome. If, for example, a laptop, cell phone or clothes in the motorhome are stolen or damaged during a covered event (such as an accident or severe storm), your homeowners policy could help. Check with your insurer in advance, however, since some homeowners policies have limits on property that's away from your primary residence.
Liability. If a visitor to your rented motorhome is hurt and you are found responsible, the liability coverage in your homeowners policy might not apply. That's because some homeowners policies do not provide liability coverage for motor vehicles (including motorhomes).
Driving a motorhome can be a more complex than driving a car. Phil Ingrassia, president of the RV Dealers Association (RVDA), says a motorhome's size — and the fact that many rental drivers are behind the wheel of these bigger rigs for the first time — can increase the chance that you sideswipe a pole, dent another RV, and more.
Even a minor accident in a motorhome could result in much higher expenses than a fender bender in your family sedan, Ingrassia says. In that case, the limits on your personal auto policy might not be enough to fully cover motorhome repairs. Ingrassia says a temporary motorhome rental insurance policy may offer higher limits than your auto policy.
In addition, Ingrassia notes that a supplemental policy could help pay for costs your insurance policies likely wouldn't cover, such as expense reimbursement (for a hotel and rental car, for instance), if your motorhome breaks down during a trip.
Before you rent a motorhome, be sure to read your auto and homeowners policies or talk to your insurance agent. He or she can detail what coverage might already be available through your existing policies. That way, you'll know whether it makes sense for you to purchase temporary insurance coverage through the motorhome rental company for your trip.