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Imagine that one of your customers walks into your agency looking for insurance for his new travel trailer. You pull a quick quote for an endorsement on his existing car insurance policy. Pleased with the low price, your customer buys and goes on his way. Months later, you find out that your customer's RV was totaled. And that's not the only bad news:because the RV was simply added as an endorsement onto his auto policy-and wasn't covered by a specialized RV policy-the insurance check won't even cover the amount he still owes on his loan.

While it can be quick, easy and sometimes cost-effective to add a RV to an existing auto policy, several incidents aren't fully covered unless your customer has specialized RV insurance.

Here's what you need to know about RV insurance so that you can grow your RV business and protect yourself in the process.

A car policy doesn't cover a lot of things that can go wrong with an RV. These vehicles are much more than a car-they're houses on wheels. For example, if an RV is damaged during a trip, an auto policy could leave your customers out in the cold. Specialized RV coverage's can pay up to $2,000 for lodging and transportation so the policyholders could still enjoy their vacation.

Similarly, expensive items like outdoor gear, laptops or other electronics stolen from inside an RV would be covered by an RV policy but typically would not be covered by an auto policy.

Specialized RV coverage can also protect against depreciation if an RV is totaled. A typical car insurance policy would only pay the RV's depreciation value, while specialized RV policies would pay the amount that your customer and the insurance company agreed the RV was worth when they bought the policy, regardless of the RV's value at the time of the loss.

Knowing what's covered and what's not can help you recommend the type of policy that best fits our customer's needs.

Coverage's, costs, and service the difference in price between a specialized RV policy and an auto endorsement can be minimal, but the difference in coverage is significant.

For example, if an RV breaks down, towing it to a repair facility requires specialized-and more expensive-equipment, so an auto policy might not cover the full cost. Specialized RV coverage typically fully covers roadside assistance claims. 

Additional coverage options are available. For example, depending on the state, Progressive's RV coverage offers:

*Total loss replacement-Replaces a totaled RV with a new model of similar make and quality

*Full timer's coverage-Provides homeowner-like coverage for individuals who use their RV as a primary residence

*Vacation liability-Pays up to the specified limits for Bodily Injury and Property Damage for which a customer is legally responsible as a result of an accident that occurs while the RV is used as a temporary vacation residence, $10,000 limits are included with Comprehensive and Collision coverage, but higher limits are available.

*Fire department service charge-Pays up to $1,000 in fire department charges when the department is called to save or protect an insured RV. Higher limits are available.

*Pet injury coverage-If a per sustains injury in an RV loss that is covered by Comprehensive or Collision insurance, Progressive will pay up to $1,000.

*Disappearing deductibles-For each year a customer goes without a claim, this optional coverage reduces their deductible.

If your customer needs to use these coverage's, a specialty RV insurer has a claims staff that knows RV's inside and out, unlike an auto-only carrier whose reps work mostly with cars.

Market and cross-sell opportunities

Even in this economy, market opportunities exist for RV coverage. According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), more than 8.2 million American households currently own an RV. Plus, when RVers were surveyed by the group earlier this year, 45 percent were considering another RV purchase, despite the current recession.

The RVIA is also beginning to see an increase in RV sales since the market downturn last year, which could be attributed to a government-sponsored tax credit on motor homes, improved credit availability, and increased interest in affordable family vacation options.

And don't forget to ask about our "toys" your customers might have: our research shows that RVers tend to won other types of vehicles like motorcycles, boats, dirt bikes and ATVs.

Protect your customers and yourself

It's best to present both options-a specialized RV policy and a personal auto endorsement-to your customers so they can make an informed decision. And you'll protect yourself in the process.

Since most auto policies don't offer the same level of coverage for motor homes and travel trailers that a specialized policy does, if your RV customer suffers a loss that's not covered, he or she may take legal action against you and your agency. The No. 1 cause of E&O claims is failure to offer the proper coverage.

By educating both yourself and your customers about RV insurance, you'll be able to protect your business and sell more policies-and your customers will be protected from the unexpected.

Property and Casualty 360
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