Vacation Liability Insurance. 2 lessons
Don't know if this subject has been reviewed before but I couldn't find any threads that answer my concern. If I've missed them, please point me in the right direction.
When we bought our trailer 5 years ago we didn't know anything about RVing. We didn't even know anyone who owned an RV. So we were pretty much on our own and dependent on what the dealer told us. Thanks to everyone who posts on these forums. We'd be lost without you.
Aside from everything else, I figured the insurance stuff was a no brainer. I'm mean, I'm retired from a 40 year career in Insurance and Risk Management. So I figure all I need to do is buy an RV policy. GEICO Insurance covered my truck and, at the time, they quoted $200 a year to cover my trailer. Done deal. End of story. Well, not quite.
While exiting a State Park two years ago I got too close to a large tree and destroyed the awning of our trailer. It was my third attempt to kill the awning. My first two attempts failed resulting only in flesh wounds. This time I did it right. So when we got home, I contacted GEICO about filing a claim. However, before doing so, I asked myself if hitting a tree might be considered an at-fault accident.
Much to my dismay, it was. At least in the opinion of one GEICO underwriter. So, my choice was either a, report the claim and watch my auto insurance premiums increase or b, simply buy a new awning and forget about insurance. The awning was about $1,000. The increased cost of insurance was an unknown. My background told me, it could easily exceed $1,000 over a three year period. That's how long a claim remains on the insurance record and gives the insurance company justification to increase the premium. My deductible for the awning was $500 so it was really a no brainer. That's lesson one. Lesson two is the important one.
The real lesson is about understanding the insurance coverage you have and making sure it covers the big loss. The ones that start with a summons and complaint arriving in your mail box. A S&C that follows an actual or alleged injury that occurs in or around your RV when it's away from your residence. This may not apply to full timers who have motorhomes. I've never read a motorhome policy so don't know if there are coverage gaps. I also can only speak to my Allied policy that does provide Vacation Liability Insurance. But for those of you who own trailers and especially those of you who, like me, fall somewhere between full timer and vacationer take a close look at your insurance.
Unfortunately, you have to read and understand your policy. Not an easy task. When I began my career in the insurance industry, policies were standardized. Most provided similar if not identical coverage. That is no longer the case. Today, policies are designed to meet the insurance companies objectives, not yours. Worse, you are likely dealing with an order taker and not an insurance agent. The order taker usually doesn't have a clue as to what the policy actually covers. At least when it comes to exposure beyond the mundane fender bender, theft or collision. But trust me, if your have a major loss, you will discover that your insurance company hires the best attorneys money can buy, to minimize THEIR loss, not yours.
So, first question to ask yourself. Does your policy provide liability coverage when away from the premises. My Allied policy includes Pleasure Use Vacation Liability Coverage. VACATION RESIDENCE is a defined term. A term that means precisely what the policy says it means. Not what you think or hope it means.
My Allied policy means, A premises that is not your permanent or primary residence. A vacation residence includes a parcel of real property that is:
a) owned by you or set aside for your exclusive use, and
b) occupied by your recreational vehicle.
Note. It's a) and b), not a) or b)
As I read this, I have vacation liability coverage when I'm parked in a designated space at an RV park. That covers most of my exposure. But what about parking on public land?
Does this mean that when I spend a week at Quartzsite, or some other BLM land, or any similar government property, I don't have coverage? Honestly, I don't know. Is the BLM land, or a similar location, where my trailer is parked, set aside for my exclusive use? Anyone?
I discovered this somewhat disconcerting definition while trying to find a definition for Pleasure Use. That term is not defined by my Allied policy. At least it's not in my Allied policy with a May 30, 2012 edition date. Yes, policies do change and endorsements change your policy until changed again at a later date. Read your policy. If you have questions, ask your insurer. Ask them in an email so you have a record of the question. Ask them to respond in writing. In fact, always ask your insurer to respond to your coverage questions in writing.