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The roots of van life can be traced back to the hippie movements of the 1960s and '70s when people sought escape from societal norms and embraced a simpler, more nomadic way of life.

In recent years, an increasing number of Canadians started experimenting with full-time life on wheels as a way of escaping the pandemic. This latest trend is largely made up by those open to non-traditional lifestyles and can make a living as remote workers.

Others have embraced motorhomes for financial reasons, whether they want to save money or have been priced out of homeownership.

Whether you’re parked at a campground, a big box store parking lot, or on your own driveway, having the right insurance ensures peace of mind and financial security. Here’s what you should know about insuring your RV.

Types of recreational vehicle (RV) insurance policies

Motorhomes, towed trailers and stationary trailers are typically classified under RV insurance. However, RV owners could find themselves in a few unique situations. Here are just a few:

Full-time: You live in your RV or motorhome full-time, year-round. It’s your primary residence.

Seasonal: You use it seasonally. For example, only during the summer months.

Temporary: You only need coverage for a short period of time.

Related: Do you need to add your children to your auto insurance?

What is RV insurance?

Imagine your RV insurance as a comprehensive package that combines elements of auto, home, and travel insurance. With the right RV coverage, you’re protected against collisions, bodily injuries, liability, emergency expenses, and more.

For instance, if your RV faces unexpected issues, you won’t need to stress about covering unplanned hotel or transportation costs.

With RV insurance, you gain peace of mind regarding your personal belongings. Coverage extends to items inside your RV, such as electronics, furniture, and appliances. If any of these belongings are stolen or damaged due to a covered peril, your policy has you covered.

The easiest way to insure your RV is to find an insurance provider that offers dedicated RV insurance. However, despite recent popularity, this type of insurance is still not widely common in Canada. Availability will vary from insurer to insurer.

How much is RV insurance?

Like car insurance, the cost of RV insurance varies based on several factors, including your age, gender, driver history, the size, make, model, and year of your vehicle.

Generally, less expensive RVs tend to have lower insurance costs, while more luxurious and higher-value motorhomes come with higher insurance premiums.

For example, an RV priced at $30,000 would cost an estimated $46 per month in insurance premiums, whereas an RV valued at $100,000 would cost an estimated $161 per month.

Additional factors that influence insurance costs include:

Insurance and claim history: Your past accident history affects your premium.

Usage: Whether you use the RV full-time or part-time impacts the cost.

Policy add-ons or bundles: Bundling policies can affect overall costs.

RV size: Larger RVs generally have higher insurance costs.

Learn more: What factors affect your auto insurance rate?

Start with a standard auto insurance policy for your RV in Canada

If your RV is a motorhome which you can drive (e.g., Class A, Class C), and your insurance company doesn’t provide tailored RV insurance options, you’ll likely need to insure it with an auto policy.

If you’re towing your trailer behind your vehicle, you’re not legally required to have insurance for the RV itself. However, the car doing the towing would need to have an auto insurance policy.

What types of coverage should insure your RV with?

In both cases, insurance for your van works the same as car insurance with the same basic coverage available.

Third-party liability insurance

Third-party liability insurance is mandatory for all Canadian drivers. It covers the insured driver if they’re at fault in an accident involving another party (a third party) who is injured, killed, or whose property is damaged. It also covers damages to the other person’s property and related repair costs.

In Ontario, you’re covered for a minimum of $200,000 for third party liability coverage for any one accident. In the scenario that you file a claim involving both bodily injury and property damage that reaches the maximum amount, payment for property damage will be capped at $10,000.

RVs are larger and heavier vehicles, which means they can potentially cause more damage in an accident. If you host gatherings or events in your RV (such as tailgate parties), liability coverage becomes crucial. Additionally, RVs often share the road with other RVs, especially in campgrounds, parks, and popular vacation spots.

Given this, it’s advisable to consider increasing your third-party liability coverage beyond the minimum required amount.

Accident benefits

Accident benefits provide coverage for medical expenses (hospital stays, prescriptions, treatments), rehabilitation costs (occupational and physiotherapy), income replacement (if you’re unable to work due to injuries), caregiver benefits, and lastly, in case of a fatal accident, benefits are provided to the deceased’s family for funeral expenses and other related costs, regardless of who is at-fault.

The goal is to ensure that injured parties receive necessary medical care promptly, without waiting for fault determination.

Uninsured motorist coverage

Also mandatory in most Canadian provinces (except in Alberta, where it’s available as an optional add-on), uninsured motorist coverage covers medical expenses resulting from injuries sustained by you and your family members in a collision with an uninsured driver. It can also cover damage to your van if the uninsured driver can be identified.

Read more: Living the van life? Better check your auto insurance coverage

Comprehensive coverage (optional) 

Also known as ‘parked car coverage’, comprehensive coverage is recommended for someone with an RV (trailer, towed, stationary), especially if it’s stationary as it covers any damage unrelated to an accident, such as theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.

Collision coverage (optional) 

Collision coverage covers any damage to your vehicle if involved in an accident with another car, a streetlight, road sign, or any other stationary object (like a fallen tree). It also covers the cost of damage if you’re a victim of a hit-and-run by an unknown driver.

Wherever you are, your RV, whether it’s parked in the driveway or in a remote site, your home serves as a safe haven for you and your family. Considering you might be residing in a rural area with wildlife, and an elevated risk of natural disasters, obtaining additional protection for your motorhome could be necessary.

Add emergency roadside assistance to your coverage for your RV

When you’re on the road with your RV, unexpected breakdowns or accidents can happen. Having roadside assistance ensures that help is just a phone call away. Roadside assistance includes:

Towing services: If your RV breaks down, runs out of fuel, or has a flat tire, roadside assistance covers towing services. Imagine being stranded in an unfamiliar area without help—roadside assistance prevents such situations. 

Battery jump-start: RV batteries can drain unexpectedly. With roadside assistance, you can get a jump-start to get back on the road quickly. 

Lockout services: Ever lock yourself out of your RV? It happens! This add-on coverage can help unlock your vehicle if you accidentally leave the keys inside. 

Fuel delivery: Running out of fuel in the middle of nowhere is stressful. Roadside assistance can deliver fuel to your location, saving you from a long walk to the nearest gas station. 

Mechanical repairs: Some plans include minor mechanical repairs on-site. If your RV has a minor issue, a technician may be able to fix it right there. 

Read more: What are the benefits of joining a roadside assistance program?

How does insurance work if I tow a car behind my motorhome?

As mentioned earlier, if you’re towing a car behind your motorhome, your car needs to be insured before attempting to tow it. However, if anything were to happen while towing from one place to another, your insurer might treat your motorhome and car separately.

For example, let’s assume your car detaches from your motorhome while driving and hits a stationary object like a tree - your car’s insurance will kick in to cover any damage, not your motorhome insurance (even if you do have motorhome insurance).

Does your home insurance policy cover your mobile home?

If your RV is a towed trailer or a stationary trailer, and remains parked in your driveway, you might be covered under your existing home insurance policy.

For instance, your homeowner’s insurance may cover the contents of your camper against theft, loss, or damage. This includes personal belongings inside the camper, such as clothing, electronics, and kitchenware.

RV as a detached structure

If your RV is parked on your property, it might be treated similarly to a detached structure (like a shed or garage) by your home insurance policy.

However, this can vary based on the insurer and the specifics of your policy. Some insurers may consider an RV as part of your personal property, while others treat it separately. Review your policy documents or speak directly with your insurance provider to understand how they classify your RV.

If your RV is a motorhome (motorized) or is stored elsewhere (such as at a storage facility or a campsite), it won’t be covered under your homeowner’s policy. Depending on if you’re living full-time in your RV, you might need a separate home insurance policy.

Whether you have RV insurance or not, consider adding content coverage on top

While your RV insurance policy protects you against financial loss in the event of a damaging accident or theft of your RV, it generally doesn’t cover all your belongings inside.

Paying out of pocket to replace these items could be an unexpected expense. That’s where contents insurance coverage comes in. By adding this coverage to your RV insurance, drivers can receive assistance in repairing damaged items or replacing stolen and destroyed belongings.

However, the items that were damaged or stolen from your RV must be items that are usually kept inside the vehicle. For instance, if you’re stationarily parked in your home’s driveway, and leave some jewelry in your RV, they’d be covered by your home insurance policy rather than your RV insurance.

Related: Do you need to insure a car, motorcycle, or RV that's sitting in storage?

Should you add travel liability coverage?

Your home insurance policy includes liability coverage, which protects you if someone is injured on your property or if you accidentally cause damage to someone else’s property.

However, this liability coverage is primarily related to incidents that occur on your home premises (e.g., a slip-and-fall accident in your backyard). It doesn’t extend to liability situations involving your RV while it’s away from your home.

RVs have unique risks and liability scenarios. When you’re camping, traveling, or parked at a campsite, your RV becomes its own separate entity.

Travel or vacation liability coverage within your RV insurance specifically addresses liability situations related to your motorhome, even when it’s not at your home.

Imagine you invite a new friend from a neighboring campsite to roast marshmallows over an open fire. If a log shifts, and your new friend gets burned accidentally. Not only could it end a blossoming friendship, but they could also potentially sue you for damages.

Vacation liability coverage would help cover the following expenses:

  • Legal fees: If you’re faced with a lawsuit, legal representation can be costly. This coverage helps pay for legal expenses.
  • Settlement costs: If you’re found liable for the injury or damage, the settlement costs (compensation to the injured party) will be covered.
  • Medical bills: If your friend requires medical treatment due to the burn, this coverage assists with medical expenses.
  • Third-party property damage: If your campfire accidentally damages someone else’s property (such as their tent or picnic table), vacation liability coverage can help cover the repair or replacement costs.

Some things to consider before you join #vanlife

Here’s some questions you should consider providing a clear picture to your insurance broker or agent with before you commit to a policy for your RV. 

  1. Travel plans: Are you primarily traveling or permanently parked with your RV? 
  2. US travel: Do you plan to travel to the United States? If so, for how long? 
  3. Residence: Do you have a permanent residence in Canada (such as a rental, owned condo, home, or park model)? Or will you be using your RV for temporary accommodation, such as during work assignments or while your home is being built? 
  4. Belongings value: What is the total value of the belongings you keep in your RV? Do you have any valuable items like jewelry, collectibles, electronics, or fitness equipment (such as bikes)? 
  5. Work from RV: Are you planning to work from your RV? 
  6. Additional drivers: Will anyone else be driving your RV? 

The takeaway

While your existing car, home or tenant insurance might cover damages to some extent, they’ll only provide coverage for your RV in very specific cases (like if it’s parked in the driveway, towed by your car, or a short-term living arrangement), and is very limited.

So, you’ll have to either get RV insurance, or if unavailable, start with an auto insurance policy and include add-ons depending on your living situation and preference.

Be upfront when browsing potential insurance companies about your plans so that they can provide you with the best tailored options. Compare auto insurance quotes and alternative policy options, such as travel insurance, to ensure you have the right coverage for your next adventure.

Read next: Using a trailer this summer? Make sure your car insurance is in tow

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Arshi Hossain ,
Writer and Editor

Arshi Hossain is a writer and editor at RATESDOTCA. She has 4+ years of experience in delivering strategy-backed digital content through various mediums. Her expertise lies in breaking down complex information, meeting people where they are, and in the moments that matter.

Prior to joining RATESDOTCA, she worked in the editorial and digital content space at Wealthsimple, supported digital strategies, and UX writing for payment products and solutions at Bank of Montreal. She has also worked with startups to support editorial, content writing, communications, copywriting, and marketing needs.

Experience
  • Car Insurance
  • Home Insurance
  • Mortgage
Education
  • Professional Communication - BA (Hons) at Toronto Metropolitan University with minors in Global Narratives, Public Relations, and Philosophy
Featured in
  • Financial publication, MoneyLetter
  • Golden Meteorite Press
  • Editorial spin-off series from the award-winning magazine, Money Diaries, for Wealthsimple Foundation.

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