The owner of a tiny house on wheels has many different options when it comes to getting insurance. These options will vary depending on the way the tiny home was built, where the tiny home is kept, and whether or not the tiny home will be traveling.
In this post, we’ll go over 9 different ways to get insurance on your tiny home.
Please carefully consider each one before deciding on what is best for you and your tiny house.
Liability Insurance Is Important
If you’re towing your tiny house, you’ll need to have basic liability insurance on it. What is liability insurance? According to Investopedia, liability insurance is an insurance policy that, “provides the insured party with protection against claims resulting from injuries and damage to people and/or property”.
Basically, this means that your liability insurance will protect you in case your tiny home ends up rolling damaging somebody else’s vehicle.
For example, you accidentally back your tiny home into another car while trying to park.
In most cases, your automobile insurance policy should include liability insurance when towing. However, this isn’t always the case, so you’ll want to check with your insurance company before you head out on the road.
If your automobile insurance policy doesn’t cover your tiny home with liability insurance, you can always ask to add some to your coverage. This being said, if your auto insurance policy does not cover you with liability for your tiny home, you might consider shopping around for a policy that does. You might find that switching insurance companies is less expensive than adding another policy to your plan just to cover your tiny home.
Do I have to have liability insurance?
Legally, you’ll need liability insurance on your vehicle or you could face fines and even a suspension of your driver’s license.
The problem with liability insurance is that it only covers the other person’s damages. This means that if your tiny home is damaged during the accident, you won’t receive any money to repair it. For that, you’ll need to get full coverage on your tiny home.
Full Coverage Insurance
Full coverage insurance isn’t actually a plan but it can be created through the use of a few plans purchased together. In order to get full coverage for your tiny home, you’ll need to buy the following insurance plans.
- Liability Insurance.
- Collision Insurance.
- Comprehensive Insurance.
We’ve already discussed liability insurance and why it is important. Collision insurance is the same as liability insurance but in reverse. This insurance policy covers damage done to your vehicle or tiny home when you cause an accident with another driver.
For example, if you back your tiny home into someone else’s car, your collision insurance will help you pay to repair your tiny home and vehicle.
Collision insurance only covers your vehicle when you are the cause of the accident because the other person’s insurance policy should cover you if the other driver causes the accident. Basically, you’ll end up suing their insurance company for the damages should they decide not to pay you for them.
Comprehensive insurance will cover your tiny home even when the tiny home is not involved in a collision. For instance, you’re driving down the street and lighting strikes a tree on the side of the road. This tree falls over and crushes your tiny home. Collision insurance will not help you in this instance but comprehensive insurance will.
The problem with these types of insurance policies is that they won’t always cover tiny homes. Different insurance companies will cover different items and different states have different rules and regulations regarding insurance policies and tiny homes.
For this reason, it is always best to call your insurance company and simply ask them if you can get liability, collision, and comprehensive insurance on your tiny home on wheels. If the company says yes, this might be the best way to go since you’ll be fully covered while traveling with your tiny home.
RV Insurance Is An Option (Sometimes!)
RV insurance policies are popular policies for tiny homes on wheels.
An RV insurance policy will usually consist of collision, comprehensive, and liability insurance policies. It may also cover all of the components of the tiny home as well as the personal belongings that are stored within the tiny home.
This coverage may even include emergency roadside assistance as well as towing.
For example, your tiny house trailer axle brakes while driving down the highway and it needs to be towed somewhere to be repaired.
An RV insurance policy can be great for tiny homeowners as it essentially covers everything you can think of. If your trailer is in an accident, if a tree falls on it, or even if somebody brakes in and steals your television, you’re covered by your RV insurance policy.
The only issue with getting this type of insurance is that a tiny home isn’t actually an RV. In some states, to get RV insurance, you have to have a home on wheels that has RVIA certification.
What is RVIA certification?
RVIA certification is proof that the RV meets certain safety standards. These standards are created by the RV Industry Association’s standards inspection program.
This association works with all 50 states to make sure that RVs meet all of the size restrictions as well as any other safety requirements like seatbelts and brakes.
Once an RV has passed inspection, it receives an industry seal which states that it is in compliance.
If you’re looking to get RV insurance, you might want to consider buying your tiny home or building your tiny home with the RVIA certification in mind.
Trailer Insurance Is An Option
As we said earlier, your tow vehicle’s insurance policy should cover your tiny home in the event you are liable for a motor vehicle accident.
This being said, sometimes it is better to get your tiny home its own liability coverage and you can often do this through trailer insurance.
You can also get collision and comprehensive insurance through trailer insurance as well. This will also help to cover the replacement cost of your trailer as well as everything stored inside of it.
In this case, you basically get most of the benefits that you’d get with full coverage on an automobile or full RV insurance coverage.
Trailer insurance is great because you can fully protect your tiny home without having to get any special certifications. You simply cover the insurance for the full amount that it would cost you to repair or replace the tiny home and you make a claim when needed.
This insurance will even cover you should the tiny home be stolen or completely destroyed.
When buying this type of insurance, keep in mind that you specifically have to cover the items inside or they will not be covered. Sometimes trailer insurance companies will only cover the trailer so you’ll have to see exactly what that entails when getting your tiny house insured.
Umbrella insurance is a policy that you get in addition to your other policies. Some people refer to it as excess liability insurance. The reason for this is that it will step in to help cover you in the event that your liability insurance cannot.
For example, you get into an accident and your liability insurance pays out $10,000.00. However, the person you were in an accident with has sued you for $20,000.00 and won. Your umbrella insurance policy will step in to pay the other $10,000.00 so you don’t have to.
People with a lot of assets would be wise to get an umbrella insurance policy because it will help protect them against being ruined financially. For example, if you own a few investment properties and you lose a lawsuit due to an accident with your tiny home, you could end up losing all of your investment properties.
Even if you don’t have a lot of assets, you might want to consider umbrella insurance anyway.
This is because a big lawsuit could end up taking its toll on your future earnings.
For example, you end up losing a million dollar lawsuit and you don’t have a million dollars. In this case, you’ll have to declare bankruptcy and you may end up suffering financially for years to come.
The one thought to keep in mind when buying umbrella insurance is that you can only get it after you’ve purchased your initial coverage. This also means that the initial coverage must be paid out first before the umbrella insurance kicks in.
Because of this fact, umbrella insurance is usually less expensive than other types of insurance and you can get a lot of coverage without spending a lot of money on it.
These policies usually start out by covering you for one million dollars and can go up dramatically from there.
A homeowner’s insurance policy generally will not directly cover your tiny home on wheels. But they can work if you register as an RV (more here).
However, there are some exceptions to this.
For example, if you own the property that your tiny home is residing on, you can get insurance on the property with homeowner’s insurance.
Because the tiny home is parked on your property, it may be covered by your insurance company. It works in a similar manner to other possessions you may have stored on your property.
For example, a homeowner has an expensive riding lawn mower stored inside his garage and his garage catches fire. Because the homeowner has homeowners insurance, the insurance company will help him or her to pay for a new lawn mower to replace the one that was destroyed in the fire.
The tiny home doesn’t have to be parked in the garage to be covered either.
It may fall into the same category as other items that are in the yard. For example, did you know that homeowner’s insurance policies will actually cover trees and bushes in your yard?
Another way to get homeowner’s insurance on a tiny house on wheels is to keep it in one location for extended periods of time. In this case, you can try to get mobile home insurance on the tiny home. This insurance works much like a traditional homeowner’s insurance and usually doesn’t cost that much to obtain. You can get insurance just on the home or the home as well as the possessions stored inside the tiny home.
Are you renting some land to store your tiny home on? If so, you may be able to get renter’s insurance. Renters insurance will not cover the land but it will cover the items you store on the land. If you park your tiny home on this land, you’re essentially storing your tiny home on this land.
With renters insurance, you generally tell the company how much your items are valued at and they sell you a policy covering them.
The more money your items are worth, the more you will end up paying for coverage.
In some cases, you may also decide to add umbrella insurance to help cover your liability over the land as well. For example, you’ve rented the land and someone hurts themselves while traveling over it. They sue the landowner and their liability insurance doesn’t fully cover the lawsuit.
Because of this, they then decide to sue you for what is still owed to them. Your renter’s insurance doesn’t cover this liability but your umbrella insurance might.
Getting Insurance on Individual Items
Some people like to have additional coverage for individual items they own. You might see someone with a particularly expensive engagement ring do this.
To get this type of insurance, you’ll have to ask your insurance company for valuable items insurance coverage. This is particularly helpful for people who have limits on particular items within their homeowner’s insurance policies.
For example, a policy may only provide coverage for up to $3,000.00 worth of jewelry. This might be plenty of coverage for some people but it might not be nearly enough for others. Someone with a $10,000.00 watch would have to pay $7,000.00 of their own money to replace the watch they lost.
In this case, the person might want to go and get a valuable items policy on the watch.
The only difficulty with getting this type of policy is you usually have to get items appraised and you have to keep detailed records of the items that are being covered.
If you’ve decided to cover certain items in your tiny home, you’ll have to find out how much they’re worth and you’ll have to find someone to verify the price for you. To help with this process, you may want to save receipts as you build or modify your tiny home.
Self-Insure (Or Not Being Insured!)
The term self-insure basically stands for not getting an insurance policy at all. In this case, you save up some money and you buy the items that are lost or stolen yourself.
The nice thing about this policy is that once you save up enough money to cover all of the items, you don’t have to save anymore.
The drawback to this type of insurance policy is that your items might be destroyed after only two months of ownership.
In this case, you may have paid $50,000.00 for your tiny home and in two months you end up losing it all. You may have saved $50.00 a month by not having insurance, but you lost $50,000.00 in just two months.
Also, you can’t completely self-insure a tiny home as you’ll legally be bound to have liability insurance when towing your tiny house on wheels. The only exception to this might be the person who pays someone else to transport their tiny home.
In this case, the person transporting the tiny home should get their own liability insurance to protect both you and them while they complete their job.
If the person towing your tiny home does not want to get liability insurance, it is probably best for you to find someone who will.
My advice would be to only self-insure inexpensive DIY tiny homes that you know you can easily replace in the future. Doing so may save you a lot of heartache in the future and may end up saving you a lot of money.
There are many different types of insurance policies that you can use to help protect your tiny home. Some of these policies will be necessary for everyone to get and some will only apply to people in certain situations.
Carefully review each policy with a few different insurance companies in your area and choose the insurance policy that works best for you.
Also, be honest with your insurance provider. Any discrepancies found at the time of a claim can easily be used against you. In this case, your claim will end up coming back invalid and you might even face legal issues related to insurance fraud.
Insurance fraud is a serious offense and many people have ended up going to jail over it. Don’t let this happen to you. Be safe and be smart and get the coverage that you need without resorting to any sort of deception.
Christopher Schopf is an avid camper, hiker, and an advocate for a better environment. He likes to write about alternative lifestyles and small spaces.