How to Save Money on Insurance for Boats, RVs

One unexpected consequence of the coronavirus pandemic is a giant upsurge in the purchase of boats and recreational vehicles (RVs). 

2020 Ford Expedition Towing Travel Trailer

According to DiscoverBoating, a website operated by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), "It may come as a surprise to some that boat sales are up. After months of low to no employment among certain sectors of the population, it may be counterintuitive that activities based on discretionary spending such as boating or even RVing are attracting large audiences, but a closer look at the underlying driving factors suggests this may be the ideal time to try out a new lifestyle or to upgrade to a newer or larger boat model."

As mentioned, RVing is enjoying the same summer boom that boating is. The RV Industry Association (RVIA) reported that in June wholesale shipments of RVs posted their best month in 2020 and the highest monthly total since October 2018. After falling off the cliff in March, sales to consumers have regained momentum every month since and are expected to remain robust. In the wake of this spring's economic scare, boat and RV dealers have offered uncommonly good discounts and deals.

The reasons that RVs and boats are gaining popularity are easy to understand. As Americans seek recreational outlets that will get them out of their homes, RVs and boats offer obvious advantages in the COVID-19 era. Both offer the opportunity for "social distancing" while vacationing with family. Both are largely outdoor activities and outdoors is thought to be safer than staying indoors. In an atmosphere where large group activities like sporting events, concerts and festivals are forbidden, boating and RV travel enables pleasant family recreation.

Of course, the boom in RVing and boating begs the question "If I buy a boat or RV are there ways to save money on insuring it?" The answer to that question is yes, but, like many things, the answer requires some explanation.

Shop Around for Insurance

The first piece of advice that applies even before you buy that new boat or RV is to shop around for insurance. That is a good money-saving piece of advice for consumers in virtually any area, but it really applies to insurance. 

What is interesting is how few people actually do it. NerdWallet says the average driver could save $859 per year simply by shopping for the best car insurance rate versus sticking with their current company. You might end up saving that amount or more on RV or boat insurance with a simple 30 minutes of comparison shopping.

A quick Internet search will reveal several sites where you can compare insurance rates. Both The Zebra and ValuePenguin offer helpful commentary on various types of insurance plus the opportunity to compare rates.

To Bundle or Not To Bundle?

Understanding the concept of "bundling" is important as you seek to insure a new boat or RV. Bundling is insuring several things — car, boat, RV, personal watercraft, motorcycle — with the same insurance company in exchange for a discount. 

The most typical example of bundling is buying homeowner's insurance and car insurance from a single company. Big insurers like State Farm, GEICO, Allstate, Nationwide, and AAA offer various types of insurance, making them common destinations for people seeking bundled insurance policies. Smaller and regional insurers also offer a variety of options. But even some of the largest companies won't insure boats, for example.

Bundling can net you savings on your total insurance costs, and the savings could be substantial. It's possible to save up to 20% if you bundle home and auto insurance, for example. For a boat or RV, the savings by bundling is likely to be less impactful at maybe 10%.

Perhaps of equal value is the convenience of having all your insurance with one carrier. Instead of being billed by several companies on different schedules, it can be beneficial to pay one insurance bill. Having a relationship with a single insurance agent can also offer this advantage.

While it has its benefits, don't think that bundling will always provide you with instant and continuing savings. It is very much worth the effort to investigate specialty insurance for boats and RVs in addition to seeing what it will cost with your current car and homeowners insurance carrier. 

For example, the Boat Owners Association of the United States (BOAT/US) offers boat insurance in conjunction with GEICO, while the Good Sam Club, a nationwide association for RV enthusiasts, offers insurance agency services to connect consumers with specialty RV insurers. These are viable alternatives to bundling with a big insurer and might result in better overall costs and service.

Bottomline: Shop & Compare

In getting the best deals on your car, RV and boat insurance, there is no substitute for comparison shopping. By spending some time researching insurance costs — something you can do online with very little difficulty — you might find a way to save several thousands of dollars a year in combined insurance costs. And once you have insurance, don't just "set it and forget it." Every so often it is valuable to review your policies and do some comparison shopping all over again.

Finally, don't forget about the value of service. If you have a good relationship with your current insurance broker, give that broker a chance to continue to earn your business by finding ways for you to save. Having insurance you can trust is helpful in maintaining your family's overall financial health.