Getting insurance for your tiny house on wheels can be challenging. Tiny houses on trailers fall into a unique niche. They are not vehicles such as a recreational vehicle nor are they homes that sit on a foundation.
Recreation vehicles and campers fall under auto insurance policies. They are not typically considered to be “residences”. RV’s are considered temporary vacation homes. The tiny house that sits on a trailer and is licensed for the road is an actual dwelling.
“The tiny house movement is all about people living independently on their unique terms. So it just makes sense that the typical tiny house dweller lives in a structure that does not fit into a box or classification for an existing insurance program”.
– Darrell Grenz, Darrell Grenz Insurance Oregon, USA
Finding a Good Agent
Finding a good insurance agent is important. A good insurance representative will help you understand the insurance regulations for your country. They can also help you make design decisions before buying or building your tiny house. These suggestions will make it easier to insure.
More and more insurance companies such as CIL Insurance of Brisbane, Australia are specializing in insurance that meets the nomad lifestyle.
Always be upfront with your insurance agent. Tell them if you built the house yourself or plan to live in a mobile tiny house full time. Honesty can lower your insurance options. However, your claim can also be denied and your policy revoked if you are not honest.
Tiny houses are often subject to building codes and regulations. You should be aware of these if you decide to build your self or purchase from a tiny house builder. Many tiny home plans come with engineer certified plans that you can share with your local zoning or commissioner boards. This may help you find insurance in the future.
Is Insurance Required?
Insurance is not always legally required for your tiny house. The vehicle in which you tow your tiny house will be required to have a standard auto policy which may also include the trailer. However, your actual house may be in the gray zone.
If you build your tiny home yourself then you understand the time and money that went into the construction. You may or may not feel that you want to have that covered by insurance.
However, if you purchased and financed your tiny house from a builder you may be required to have insurance – just like you would for a traditional home.
Depending on your state or country you may be required to have liability insurance on your tiny home. RV’s are often required to have this since they are a large heavy machine that is moving. An accident may occur such as your home tipping in a wind storm and causing damage to others.
Types of Insurance
Some RV insurers will offer insurance to the tiny home traveler. These policies are designed for mobile homes. Some RV insurers have policies for “full-timers” that live in their RV’s and more and more are having specialized insurance for tiny houses.
Policies cover your home while it’s parked and while it’s moving. They often cover collision, content protection, and liability coverage of the house and the contents. However, there may be limitations to these policies.
Check out the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association. They are an industry advocacy group that represents manufacturers and provides information about all aspects of RV life. Many insurance policies for RV’s only cover designs certified by the RVIA.
Insurance For an Owner-Built Home
Did you build your tiny house yourself? Congratulations! However, this may make it harder to get insurance. Insurance agents are often leery of self-built homes.
One thing you can do to improve your insurance chances is to take pictures during your construction phase. Pictures of construction, electric and plumbing will help show the agent that the home meets building codes and is safe to live in.
Some insurance agents want to learn more about your heating options. David Burns of Kingston Specialty Group covers tiny home in Canada.
Inland Marine Policy
Inland marine policies were first developed for the trucking industry. They traditionally cover property which is being hauled on trailers or in semis such as cars, products, and even manufactured homes.
You can apply an inland marine policy to a tiny house on wheels. They do not cover liability so that may be something the homeowner wishes to add on.
Policies For Renting Out Your Tiny House
If you plan to rent out your tiny house and list it on sites such as Airbnb you will need a different policy altogether.
Cost of Insurance
Smaller house equals smaller insurance bill? Well – not always. Since tiny house insurance is more of a specialty field it can cost more than traditional homeowners insurance. Value Penguin did a comparison of three different insurance companies and found an average price of $852 per year.
Most policies are very individualized by the agent, which is why you may be answering lots of questions. Darrell Grenz states that “the average cost of tiny home insurance is probably $600 per year,”. However, that is just a ballpark figure.