Summer is coming and Covid is still here. Got an RV, Motor Home or Camper trailer that you’re thinking of renting out for a week, month, or the entire summer? Perhaps you want to rent a unit. Such rentals do generate substantial revenues that can be used to off-set your cost for the unit or even help pull you out of Covid debt.
Before you decide to jump at that opportunity there are a few things to consider. The obvious one is how do you find a renter that will take care of your unit? What recourse do you have when it comes back damaged or dirty? And, who is responsible to insure it while it is rented?
In the same way VRBO, AIRbnb, and Homeaway seem to be the websites to go to when you want to rent someone’s vacation home or just a room in their house, there are websites to rent RV’s, Motor Homes and camping trailers. Two that I’m aware of include Outdoorsy.com and RVshare.com. I have not used either of these websites but have talked with insured customers who have either rented their personally owned units through them and another who rented a unit for their vacation. Both were singing the praises for how successful the transaction was.
But the insurance guy in me had to throw cold water on this by asking who’s responsible for the insurance? I’ve never driven a motor home and I’m not good yet at backing a 38 ft. trailer into a microscopic camp site. What happens when I scrape the side of my rented trailer along some other guy’s $400,000 motor home? Should I expect the auto policy I have for my cars to extend coverage to the damage I’ve done? Does the person who rented me the trailer have insurance that should be expected to apply because normally insurance follows the vehicle? Does the website that put me as renter with the owner of the trailer provide the coverage?
I set out to see what the average person’s perception was as it related to insurance on one of these rental units. The majority of people on both sides (renter and rentor) wouldn’t have given it a second thought; simply assuming that one of their insurance policies would respond. Someone a little more knowledgeable about renting a car was convinced that because RI Law requires my personal auto liability insurance to extend to my rental of a car while my regular car is not available for use, that my insurance should cover the camper as well. WRONG! That law applies only when a personal auto is being rented as a substitute for the personal auto on your policy. Renting the camper, Motor Home, or RV would not be covered under my personal auto policy.
What about the vehicle owner’s policy?? IF he or she already has coverage on their RV, why wouldn’t that coverage extend to my use of the vehicle? Two main reasons: The policy was written for the personal use by the owner of the unit. That insured applied to her/his insurance company requesting them to specifically insure his or her personal use of the unit. That insured had to list all drivers of the unit. He’d have to share the driving record of anyone likely driving the unit. The insurance company’s rates would be reflective of the drivers they expect will be driving the unit.
A much more definitive reason for no coverage is tied to how the vehicle is being used—Personally vs. Commercially. As soon as any payment is made for the use of the vehicle it becomes a commercial venture. Your personal policies contain an exclusion for commercial use. If you are planning to rent out your RV, Motor Home or Trailer, know that you need a special policy for this commercial use.
Both of the websites referenced, Rvshare.com and Outdoorsy.com, have programs to assist both the renter and the rentor. Progressive and Foremost Insurance companies will insure your vehicle when you are renting your vehicle through one of these websites. They are the only two major carriers I have found willing to provide you coverage knowing that some of the time it will be rented. With both of them, you select your desired coverages. Anytime the vehicle is not being rented through the website, they are your insurer. It does come with the caveat; the person renting your vehicle must take out a policy through the website’s insurance program.
The website programs are designed to begin when the person renting takes the keys, to signal the beginning of the rental period and the policy ends when you drop off the vehicle at the prescribed location at that end of the rental period. The liability limits and deductible amounts usually require that they be at or above the renting state’s minimum limits. The person renting you the vehicle in the rental agreement will specify the minimum limits acceptable to them. That is their best way to be sure their vehicle comes back to them without damage.
While I’m not sure that I would be very comfortable renting my RV, Motor Home or Camper through one of these sites, there is a very valid comment made by those who have rented; it’s much less expensive to rent for the desired time frame then to invest in the purchase of such a unit.