Hi everyone. Sorry for the long break, the last few weeks have been crazy! I had an air conditioner catastrophe (which I will cover next week!), a wedding to attend in Colorado and an insurance debacle.
Today, I am going to tell you a cautionary tale regarding tiny house insurance. You see when I got my tiny house I knew I wanted to get insurance to protect my investment. Unfortunately, two years ago it was tricky to get insurance for a tiny house since most companies didn’t even know what they were.
As I did my research, I found out:
- Most insurance companies had no idea what a tiny house was or how to insure it.
- I could get RV insurance for my tiny house since it was built by a RVIA certified builder. That was great news!
- But most insurance companies won’t insure RV’s if you are planning on living in them full-time since they are by definition part-time recreational vehicles.
When I finally found a company that would insure my tiny house I had to answer the following questions. Yes, I’m a RVIA certified house. Yes, I plan on living in my home full-time. No, I won’t be traveling on a regular basis only once or twice a year when I have to relocate for my job. (remember this answer it’s going to be important when I finish my story!)
With those answers on the record, my insurance company wrote me a quote and I received insurance from American Modern Insurance company. Problem solved…or so I thought.
This year, I was honored to get the opportunity to speak at the Tiny House Conference in Asheville, North Carolina. In an effort to support the event, I agreed to take my Tiny House for display. Unfortunately, last week I discovered that my plan was not going the way I expected.
When I received my insurance policy my agent explained that my policy covered my tiny home while parked at the RV park where I am living, but would not cover me while I was mobile.
To get coverage for travel I was supposed to call and get additional coverage (basically collision coverage like you probably have for your car) when I took it on the road. No problem I thought, I don’t mind paying a little extra to keep my home insured while in transit…
So here’s how my phone call went.
Me: “Hi, I’m calling to activate the additional rider policy for my tiny house for an upcoming trip I’m taking to Asheville, North Carolina.”
Representative (after a long pause): “Are you moving?”
Me: “No, I’m going to a conference and I need to get additional coverage while I am on the road for the next week to make sure my house is insured.”
Representative (another pause): “Um, that’s a strange request. Can I put you on hold for a minute?” (never a good sign!)
Me: “Of course” (thinking it isn’t really that strange, I live in a tiny house which is mobile)
Representative: (after a 10 minute wait): “Ma’am I’m afraid your policy doesn’t cover you while you are on the road.”
Me: “Oh I understand that, I just need to activate the additional coverage they told me I could get when I was in transit when I originally signed up for my policy.”
Representative: “You are covered under a manufactured home policy, so we can’t issue travel insurance. That is coverage for Recreational vehicles.”
Me: (pause) “Okay, but I am considered a recreational vehicle. I am RVIA certified and I am tagged and titled as a recreational vehicle.”
Representative: “Oh yes ma’am, I have your Vehicle Identification number and can see you are classified as an RV.”
Me: (a little confused) “So how do I get coverage when I need to move my home if it isn’t covered under my current policy? I’m in the Air Force and I am going to have to move at some point in the next few months, and I need to take it to a conference next weekend, so I need to know how to activate travel coverage”
Representative: “I understand. We can’t issue you that coverage on your current policy. You are going to have to talk to your agent about that.”
Me: (totally confused!) “I thought you were my agent?”
Representative: “No, we are just the policy writers, you are going to need to talk to your agent.”
Me: “Okay, great, can you connect me?”
Representative: “Sure, please hold.”
ANOTHER LONG WAIT
Representative 2: “Good afternoon Ms. Higgins, How can I help you today?”
Me: “Repeat my story to second agent”
Representative 2: “Ma’am I’m afraid your policy doesn’t cover travel.”
Me: (starting to get annoyed) “I understand that, when I got my coverage I was told I could get additional coverage for when I needed to travel.”
Representative 2: “Well, your policy is written as a manufactured home policy, so you can’t travel with that insurance.”
Me: “I just found that out…I own a tiny house on wheels (emphasizing the “on wheels” part) and I am going to need to move it from time to time. How do I get coverage for that?”
Representative 2: “Well, we do have one company that insures tiny houses on wheels, but they have to be RVIA certified.”
Me: (Feeling relieved that maybe we are finally getting somewhere), “No problem, my house was built by a RVIA certified builder.”
Representative 2: “Well, we would need the RVIA certification number and pictures of your home to insure it.”
Me: “I can get that information to you. Will this policy cover me so I can travel?”
Representative 2: “Well, probably, but your rates will change.”
Me: “Okay, can I get a quote for that? I am going to have to move my house at some point.”
Representative 2: “Of course, let me get some information and I’ll get you a quote.
30 minutes later….
Representative 2: “Hi Ms. Higgins, I have that quote for you, but it probably isn’t going to be worth it for you to take your house to the conference. It costs an extra $650 a year to get an RV policy (I currently pay around $900).”
Me: (long pause) “I agree that doesn’t sound like a great deal. I do need to figure something out though. Like I said, I am in the Air Force I am going to have to move my house in the next 6 months or so for a job transfer. How can I insure my house when that happens with my current policy?”
Representative 2: “You can call us and get collision insurance.”
Me: (deep sigh and mildly annoyed!) “That’s what I was trying to do. Can I activate a collision policy for next week so I can take my house to the conference?”
Representative 2: “No ma’am. You can only get collision coverage when you are relocating.”
Me: (totally giving up in defeat) – “Okay thank you very much for your help. Have a nice day.”
Summary: Apparently I have insurance which covers me while I am sitting still and I can get collision coverage for transit, but that only works when I am relocating (still not really sure how they define this!) I have no idea why a temporary trip doesn’t count as a relocation and why I can’t get the rider policy for my trip to the conference, but apparently that is against the rules.
Sad story is I can’t take my tiny house to the conference.
Learn from my mistake! Make sure you understand what your insurance covers and when. I thought I had this all figured out, but clearly I had not asked enough questions! Don’t get caught in a situation where you are traveling uninsured.
The good news is I will still be going to the tiny house conference and helping others live more intentional lives! If you are coming to the conference, stop and say hi!
Until next time, Dream BIG!