Homeowner’s policies are confusing and difficult to understand. On one page, the policy will tell you what coverage you have, only to flip to the next page and it appears that same coverage is now an exclusion.
A homeowner’s policy can be especially difficult to interpret when it comes to insuring recreational vehicles. Most homeowner’s policies define recreational vehicles as “a motorized land vehicle designed primarily for recreational purposes but not designed for travel on public roads.” Recreational vehicles are primarily used for off-road purposes, so it would be natural to think all recreational vehicles would be covered under that definition. However, this is not always the case. Regardless of how the homeowner uses the vehicle, if it can be legally driven on public roads, it will likely NOT be considered a recreational vehicle under the homeowner’s policy. In that situation, additional coverage or a separate policy would need to be purchased to fill this potential gap in coverage.
To further complicate the coverage issue, recreational vehicles may only be insured in certain instances – such as if it is operated on the insured’s premises. In all other situations, bodily injury arising out of the use of the recreational vehicle may not be covered. The following is an example from a homeowner’s policy relating to coverage of a recreational vehicle:
- Coverage E – Personal Liability
. . .
- We will pay all sums any insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of or arising out of bodily injury or property damage caused by an occurrence to which this coverage applies. However, with respect to any aircraft, motor vehicle, recreational vehicle or watercraft:
- We will pay damages because of or arising out of the ownership, maintenance, use, loading or unloading of only:
. . .
6) recreational vehicles owned by any insured while on an insured premises;
7) recreational vehicles that are motorized golf carts;
- Coverage E – Personal Liability does not apply:
. . .
(7) to bodily injury or property damage because of or arising out of the ownership, maintenance, use, loading or unloading of any aircraft, motor vehicle, recreational vehicle or watercraft. This exclusions does not apply to aircraft, motor vehicle, recreational vehicle or watercraft described under 1. COVERAGES, a. Coverage E – Personal Liability, (1)(a)1)-(1)(a)9) and (1)(b)1)-(1)(b)3).
This is confusing. You are told what coverage you have and then you are told what coverage is excluded. In simpler terms, this is what the policy means: there is personal liability coverage for injuries that occur while using a recreational vehicle if it is owned by you while the injured person is driving it on your property or if the recreational vehicle is a golf cart. In all other instances, the homeowner’s policy will not provide personal liability protection for injuries relating to a recreational vehicle. It is also important to remember how the policy defines recreational vehicle.
How do you determine whether your recreational vehicle is covered by your homeowner’s policy? Tell your insurance agent about every recreational vehicle you own. Ask your insurance agent whether you can buy additional coverage for the recreational vehicle to be added to your homeowner’s policy or whether a separate motor vehicle policy needs to be purchased for the recreational vehicle. Request that your insurance agent provide you, in writing, a list of which recreational vehicles need to be specifically insured under the homeowner’s policy or if you should purchase a separate policy.
If you have any further questions, please call (701) 402-6644.