Have an RV that you simply put in park for much of the year? Ever thought it might be nice to take in some extra cash and let another family enjoy it for a while? If so, you came to the right place!
Every year, thousands of travelers choose to rent an RV for anywhere from a few days to a few months. It tends to work out well for both parties - the rented and renter - so long as a well-crafted, detailed agreement is made in advance. The key to successfully renting your RV is to craft a rental agreement that gets your RV rented at a fair price, while also covering wear and tear and keeping you protected from the possible downsides of RV rental.
The first consideration is to protect your neck. RVs are big vehicles and they can do a lot of damage – especially when driven by renters who aren’t accustomed to driving vehicles of that size.
You want to protect yourself from two threats: The possibility that the renter will return the RV damaged from an accident, neglect, or vandalism (fortunately, the latter incidences are very rare). You should also take into consideration the possibility that your RV or its components may cause property damage, injury, or death to a third party – who may well come after you for damages.
Your standard RV insurance policy will protect you and your family, but only if you or your authorized drivers are behind the wheel. If you are renting out your RV, your RV insurance policy will not cover you or the renter. You will need to secure a specialized kind of insurance policy called an RV rental insurance policy. This policy is underwritten to account for the added risk of new and possibly novice driver or drivers.
You should take care to verify that anyone renting your RV provide proof of insurance of their own before they even leave your driveway. There are two ways to do this:
Ask the renter who will be driving your vehicle and have the renter provide an insurance binder or series of binders covering each driver. This document essentially binds the renter’s insurance carrier to cover these drivers in your vehicle. You’ll probably want them carrying more than the required minimum coverage in your state. Take a look at their deductible, too: Is their deductible $500 or $1,000? That may be a reasonable deposit to take in. If they cause damage to the RV, their deposit will be sufficient to cover the deductible, and the insurance carrier can pick up the rest of the damage - up to the limits of their policy.
Add the renters to your rental policy as additional drivers. Again, you can’t use your regular RV insurance policy to cover people who are renting your RV. If they generated a claim, your carrier would likely have grounds to deny your claim and/or cancel your policy outright. You must get a specific RV rental policy – or piggy-back on someone else’s.
Note: This is often not available for RVs over 10 years old. If your rig is over a decade old, you will probably need to have the renter come up with a binder.
Your RV renters insurance will probably come with paperwork expressing your coverage limits like this: 30/60/20. What does this mean? It means $30,000 in insurance coverage for any single individual; $60,000 in available coverage for any single accident or incident, and; $20,000 available for property damage.
Note that it’s very easy for an RV to do much more than $20,000 in damage in a single incident. Just totaling one nice car by accidentally backing into it with a big RV can easily blow a $20,000 coverage limit. So you may want to buy additional ‘supplemental’ coverage to provide additional protection.
You’ll also see coverage provisions for medical payments and personal injury protection. This refers to individual occupants of the vehicle.
Comprehensive vs. Collision
Collision insurance is self-explanatory; but comprehensive coverage protects you from other kinds of damage, such as damages from hail or wind storms.
Ask your insurance agent about additional coverage needed if you are renting a trailer or 5th wheel. You have different options based on whether the renter is using your truck to haul it or providing their own.
If you’re upside-down on your RV (you owe more on the vehicle than it’s worth), you’ll want to consider taking out “gap coverage” to protect yourself. That insurance covers the difference between what the RV is worth (and what most policies will cover) and what you’d have to pay the finance company to pay off the loan. Many insurance companies call this type of coverage Guaranteed Asset Protection or GAP coverage. Some finance companies even require it before they’ll lend on an RV.
For Rental By Owner vs. Agencies
You can rent your vehicle on your own just by advertising on Craigslist, in your local paper, or in local family magazines. The alternative is to use an RV agency. They’ll handle advertising and billing and most of the negotiation for you. They’ll collect the payment and deposit it in your bank account or PayPal account. Examples of companies that will help you do this include RentforFun.com and RVShare.com.
Of course, each has a charge for their services. Commissions of 15 to 20 percent are common, though well-earned in most cases. These companies will often assist you with getting adequate insurance coverage or let you piggy-back on their own policies.
Anticipate some wear and tear.
Even with the best of intentions, there’s always the ‘renter vs. owner’ mentality. Set your prices to compensate you for a bit of wear and tear and cleanup. Your deposit should cover the cost of a good clean-up. You can refer the renter to a nearby detailing facility you trust, if they want their deposit back, or you can deduct the cost of clean-up from their deposit if need be.
Need a selling point?
RV vacations are a no-brainer for people with families! Industry sources estimate that traveling families who use RVs spend an average of 26 to 76 percent less money than they would pay using commercial transportation and lodging to get to the same destination. That’s enough to build in a nice, tidy profit margin for careful RV renters.
The Bottom Line
Thousands of RV owners nationwide have had very satisfying experiences renting out their RVs – and sometimes even covering their costs. Bad experiences happen and there are always risk, but it’s possible to cover yourself by being smart about your deposits, payment security, rent and insurance. Always discuss any renting plans with your RV specialist insurance agent, though. Don’t leave it to general practitioner car insurance agents unless you know they have extensive experience with commercial rentals – many of them simply aren't familiar with the issues that come up in the RV world. It's always best to speak with an RV insurance professional.
That's it! Those are my top 10 tips for buying an RV. Oh, and don't forget to test drive the unit. I guess that's an obvious one, right?