If you’ve struggled with wanderlust (but don’t like pitching a tent), you’re not alone.
Enter the RV.
There is certainly an attraction to this type of travel: the freedom, the flexibility, the slower pace. There’s also the fact that you don’t have to hop on a plane or sleep in a hotel to get to your destination.
If the aspects of this type of travel appeal to you, or if you want a new way to get out and make family memories, an RV may be in your future. But first-time buyers need to do their homework. And we’re here to help. Below, we outline what new RV owners should know before driving (or towing) their new “toy”; off the lot. (And if you need RV insurance, we can help with that, too.)
Buying a motorhome for the first time
Before you sign on the dotted line, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself. Your insights will determine what type of RV might be right for you:
- How much am I willing to spend? We’ll get into how much RVs can cost in a minute. But it’s a good idea to put a number on your price tag.
- How many people do I need to fit? This may seem like an obvious question, but RVs are designed to comfortably fit and sleep a certain number of people. Think about who you plan to bring on your travels, and don’t forget any four-legged friends either.
- How often will I use my motorhome? Take a look at your lifestyle and find out how often you plan to hit the road in your RV. Will you be camping seasonally or do you want the option to go year-round? Will you be taking it out for a few days or would you like to go on week-long (or even month-long) adventures?
- Where do I want to camp? Do you plan to relax at private campgrounds or do you see yourself escaping to more scenic destinations like public campgrounds in state and national parks? Do your research and find out which environments appeal to you and your family. If you prefer more remote locations, a smaller RV may be a better option due to size limitations.
- What do I bring with me and how much storage do I need? Are you planning to tow a vehicle with your RV? How about bringing bikes or folding picnic tables? Do you have an ATV that you also want to upload? Think about the cargo you want to transport, together with your fellow travelers.
- What amenities do I want? When it comes to RV interiors, the sky really is the limit. Some are very basic, without toilets or stoves. Others are equipped with full-size refrigerators, bathrooms with showers, flat-screen TVs, and king-size beds. Of course, all these extras come at a price. Write down your sticking points and keep them in mind when shopping.
- Do I want to drive or tow my RV? RVs fall into two camps (pun intended): motorized and towable. There are benefits to each, and we’ll get into the specific types below. If you already have a truck or SUV with the necessary towing capacity, a towable RV can be a financially smart move.
What type of motorhome should I buy?
Motorized motorhomes are ones where you sit behind the wheel and drive. They are divided into three classes:
- Class A: These RVs tend to look like buses, usually have six wheels, and can range from 21 to 43 feet in length. They can sleep between six and eight people and are usually equipped with state-of-the-art features such as private bedrooms, separate living rooms, kitchens and more. While they rank at the top of the list for amenities, they can also be the most expensive.
- Class B: At first glance, these “motorhomes” may look like they belong on the road rather than at a campsite. But they offer almost all the amenities of a typical RV in a vehicle that may be easier to drive for those accustomed to a minivan or SUV. They are smaller than a Class A at about 16 to 21 feet long, and they can sleep up to four people.
- Class C: Class C is recognizable by its classic design with a distinctive overhang above the roof of the driver’s cab. They are equipped with a wide range of amenities and are available in several configurations to sleep up to eight people. They are usually between 25 and 35 feet long.
These campers can be attached to the back of your vehicle. Some are light while others are heavy, so you need to consider if your vehicle can pull it across the open road.
- Travel trailers: Available in a seemingly endless variety of sizes, configurations, and prices (with amenities to boot), travel trailers are a versatile and popular option among first-timers and seasoned RVers alike.
- Turntable trolleys: With a turntable, it feels like you’re towing a small flat behind your truck (and yes, you will need a truck with a specialized turntable). The extra room offers more homely comforts and extra space.
- Pop-up campers: These compact, lightweight trailers fold up and close. And sleeping in them can feel more like sleeping in a tent. Depending on the model, they can actually look like a tent! These usually offer less amenities than other trailers, but they come in at a lower price and you don’t need a heavy vehicle to tow one. You can even fit between four and eight people in these motorhomes.
- Riders for sports equipment: When you want to take your “toys” with you, a dumper for sports equipment can be a good fit. They offer storage for ATVs, golf carts and more while offering the amenities of a travel trailer, including a full kitchen, bathroom and living room.
- Other towable options: There is a variety of motorhomes to suit every traveller: truck campers, expandable and teardrop trailers, and park model motorhomes. Do your research to find out which one is best for you.
How much does a motorhome cost?
This is a question that involves more than a few variables, including:
- The type of motor home
- Regardless of whether the motorhome is new or used
- The condition of the motor home
- Number of miles (if motorized)
- Included amenities and the condition of these features if used
You can go on Craigslist or other secret sites online and find an older, used RV for a bargain. Or you can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new motorhome that has top features (some of these can even break the million mark).
For a general guideline on how much new motorhomes can cost, the Motorhome Industry Association reports the following prices:
- Folding camper trailers: $6,000 to $22,000
- Conventional travel trailers: $8,000 to $95,000
- Turntables: $18,000 to $160,000 for turntables
- Class B and C RVs: $60,000 to $150,000
- Class A RVs: $60,000 to $500,000
New or used motorhome?
There are pros and cons to both options. It depends on your comfort level and a few other factors, including:
- Award: Used RVs tend to cost less than their new counterparts, as new RVs can be quite expensive.
- Features and amenities: New RVs will be equipped with the latest bells and whistles.
- Condition: Not that problems can’t arise with a new RV, but at least you know exactly what you’re getting. Used RVs are “bored in”, so they may have a few more kinks and dings. This may not bother you. Just keep in mind that undetected damage can be expensive to fix.
Do you need a special driver’s license to drive a motorhome?
According to Go RVing, a state-issued driver’s license is usually all you need. However, the laws differ from state to state. Do your due diligence and learn about the requirements in your state. Your Department of Motor Vehicles is a good place to start.
Other considerations for buying an RV
Unlike buying a new car, when buying a motorhome, there are a number of other factors to consider:
- Unexpected costs: Fees for maintenance and repairs, insurance and registration, fuel and propane, campsites and food are all standard expenses when starting an RV. You should take these into account when looking at the total cost of RV ownership and budget accordingly.
- New Skills: Do you understand the inner workings of an RV septic system, including the difference between a black water tank and a gray water tank? Have you ever backed up a travel trailer? Are you comfortable boondocking? (And do you even know what that means?) With RV ownership comes the need to acquire new knowledge and skills so you can camp safely and successfully.
- Storage: Unless you plan to be a full-time RVer, you’ll need a safe place to store your rig when it’s not in use. If you store it somewhere other than your own property, there will be fees and other logistics to consider, such as winter storage and ease of access.
Is RV insurance required? (And what does it cover?)
If you own a motorhome, you must purchase separate liability coverage for that vehicle. Learn how our motorhome insurance can protect your motorhome with the same policies as the vehicles on your car insurance.
For towable RVs covered by Erie Insurance, liability coverage for the insured vehicle towing the trailer extends to the tow truck itself.1
With both motorized and trailerable RVs, you’ll most likely want to purchase comprehensive and collision coverage; it may even be required by your lien holder. This can protect you when your RV is parked or in storage.
Other coverages to consider include roadside assistance, rental car expense coverage, and an umbrella policy, all of which give you extra protection.
Get a quote for motorhome insurance
Camping is a fun and socially distant way to connect with nature and your loved ones. See how RV insurance from ERIE can help ensure your camping fun continues by protecting your investment and keeping you safe.
Plus, adding your RV or travel trailer to your ERIE auto policy gives you the convenience of using one insurance company and dealing with just one invoice. You may even be eligible for additional discounts. To make sure you get the coverage you need, contact us today for more information.2
ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home office: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York). The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to do business in all states. See the company’s licensing and business information.
The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are effective as of July 2022 and are subject to change at any time.
Insurance products are subject to conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of coverage, terms, conditions and exclusions.
The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states. ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York. ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York. ERIE long-term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York.
Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based on applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.
Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer any questions you may have before you buy.