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Your Guide to Motorized Recreational Vehicle Insurance

Summary

Getting out into the fresh air is fun and rejuvenating. Whether you’re thinking about heading to the water in a new boat, or time camping in a new RV, you’ll want to insure your purchase.

  • Supply-chain disruptions are ongoing, and this has affected prices for both new and used boats, RVs, and more, so plan accordingly
  • Insuring your purchase is important protection for you and any guests you may invite to join you in your recreational vehicle

From golf carts to boats to ATVs, now is the time to plan for seasonal fun in the coming year.

As the pandemic lingers and people remain cooped up indoors, they are searching for ways to get outside. Hobbies such as fishing, golfing, and riding ATVs are fun activities that also adhere to social distancing recommendations. 

If you decide to jump on the bandwagon, you’ll want to insure and protect your purchase. Navigating the different policy options can be tricky, though, so here’s everything you need to know.

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Boats

If you want to spend your summer on the water, a boat might be your dream purchase. Be careful, though: If you wait until warm weather, you might run into a period of high demand, low availability and high prices. You’ll get a great  deal if you begin your search in the off season.

Last summer’s combination of high demand and pandemic-related production problems resulted in a steep rise in prices for both new and used boats. Used boat prices were up 30% last year, and a supply-chain disruption in the manufacturing of foam for seat cushions was partly to blame for delivery delays.

Texas produces much of the resin used in the U.S., and it’s a critical component for building boats. The extended power outage that hit the state in February 2021 slowed production and reduced resin supplies throughout the year.

If you’re hoping to be out on the water next summer in a boat, you should start shopping for one now. 

Insuring Your Boat

If you are purchasing a boat, you will probably need to get a separate insurance policy to cover your new watercraft.

It’s important to note that your homeowners insurance policy may cover some boats. These are mostly small vessels without motors — like canoes, kayaks or rowboats. However, if you are buying a large sailboat or something with an engine, you’ll need to get boat insurance. How much you will pay for boat insurance is tied to the value, size, and horsepower of your boat.

In practice, boat insurance is similar to car insurance: It protects against accidental damage to the vehicle from collisions and offers liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage. This also usually includes “guest passenger liability,” which provides legal coverage in case someone other than the owner drives the boat and gets in an accident.

Recreational Vehicles

Like boats, recreational vehicles (RVs) have seen a rise in demand that can at least partly be attributed to the pandemic. Similarly, they’ve also been affected by production problems.

The “RV” designation encompasses a wide range of styles. Any vehicle or trailer that includes living quarters can be described as an RV.

Motorhomes are RVs that are self-powered with the engine as part of the vehicle, and there are four classes of motorhomes:

  • Class A: These are the largest and have impressive amenities. Some have the square footage of a small apartment, and can be up to 45 feet long.
  • Class B: On the other end of the spectrum are Class B motorhomes, which are also called “campervans.” They’re small, which makes them easier to maneuver and park.
  • Class B+: As the name suggests, these are similar to Class B motorhomes but with more features and amenities, and they typically have more square footage.
  • Class C: Confusingly, Class C motorhomes fit somewhere between Class A and Class B motorhomes. They are larger than Class B campervans, but they aren’t as big as the luxurious Class A motorhomes. They are typically around 30 feet long and frequently include a storage or sleeping space that extends above the driving cabin of the vehicle.

Trailers are also considered recreational vehicles, such as the iconic and easy-to-spot Airstream trailers. These are towed by a separate vehicle with a hitch. It’s important to understand how much weight the vehicle you are using to pull your trailer is designed to carry — towing more than the recommended weight can damage your engine.

Even “pop-top” campers are considered RVs for classification purposes. This can be important when booking stays at RV parks, since some have restrictions on the types of vehicles permitted.

Just as with boats, supply chain disruptions are affecting RV manufacturers. If camping in an RV is what you envision for the upcoming summer, you’ll need to move fast to purchase one.

Insuring Your RV

The type of RV insurance that you will need will depend on what kind of recreational vehicle you own. If you have a motorhome, the classifications listed above factor into your insurance cost — along with the value and any customizations you may have made. 

ATVs

Much like RVs, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are also organized according to type. ATVs have four wheels, which is why they are sometimes called “quads” or “four-wheelers.”

Type I ATVs are designed for a single rider, while Type II ATVs can accommodate a driver and a passenger. In both cases, the driver and rider straddle the seat, like a motorcycle. You should always wear recommended protective gear when riding an ATV.

Utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) are sometimes lumped into this same category. However, the driver and passenger sit side by side on a UTV. UTVs are also generally more powerful and have greater towing capacity, which makes them more expensive. 

Insuring Your ATV

Call your agent to discuss ATV insurance. Most insurance companies that offer motorcycle insurance will also offer coverage for ATV riders. ATV insurance policies will generally cover bodily-injury liability and property-damage liability. Other coverage options — such as medical, collision, or comprehensive — are usually optional if you own the ATV. 

Insurance coverage for ATVs often carries some significant exclusions for use. For example, providers typically exclude organized ATV racing because it is dangerous. Your coverage is generally limited to recreational use on approved trails or in agricultural work settings.

Golf Carts

Golf carts are increasingly popular as an inexpensive mode of transportation, even for non-golfers. There are “golf-cart communities,” designed with golf carts as the primary vehicles in mind. 

Because they are classified as low-speed vehicles, golf carts have different licensing and insurance requirements than regular vehicles. This makes them an attractive option for seniors who are no longer comfortable driving cars but still want to get around their community easily.

As a low-speed vehicle, golf carts are limited to streets with a posted speed of 35 mph or lower. Not all states and cities allow golf carts on public roads, so check to see what the laws are before investing in a golf cart.

While some are gas-powered, other carts run on electricity and are considered an environmentally friendly choice of transportation.

Insuring Your Golf Cart

Some states require golf cart liability coverage if you will be driving the golf cart on public roads. Don’t assume that your homeowners insurance will cover your golf cart. Instead, be sure to contact your insurance agent and see if you will need separate coverage.

Jet Skis and Snowmobiles

Unfortunately, 2021 saw shortages of jet skis and snowmobiles. Again, it’s a supply chain issue, but this time the primary culprit is a lack of computer chips. If you’re hoping to have a jet ski or wave runner out on the water in 2022, you’ll want to be looking for one now. If you’re in the market for a new snowmobile, a used model might be your best bet if you’re buying after the winter season has begun. 

Whether you’re buying a motorized vehicle for snow or for water, it’s a considerable investment, so you’ll want to make sure it’s protected. That means you’ll need to purchase jet ski insurance if you dream of skimming the waves, or snowmobile insurance if gliding over the tundra is more your speed.

Insuring Your Snowmobile or Personal Watercraft 

Again, you shouldn’t assume that your homeowners insurance will cover a snowmobile or jet ski. Contact your insurance agent or an Expert Agent to find out if they offer specialized coverage for these types of equipment. 

As with other forms of vehicle insurance, you’ll find liability coverage that protects you for bodily injury and property damage. Collision, comprehensive, medical payments and even uninsured motorist coverage are offered as optional coverage.

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The Bottom Line

Seasonal fun may come with a steeper price tag than you originally planned for — but don’t let that dash your hopes.

Do your homework now to learn more about what type of insurance coverage you will need. That way, you’ll be able to move fast if the right recreational vehicle comes along. Planning ahead will make the purchase that much smoother and get you out on the water, the snow or into the great outdoors so that you can enjoy your new vehicle!

Disclaimer: 

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