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We will cover RV Breakdown Towing in several sections. First up will be vehicle insurance. No matter whether you have a motorized rig or a towable, you should have some form of towing insurance. This may be a part of your automobile policy if you are not a full-time RVer. You must contact your insurance company and add coverage for both the RV and the tow vehicle. Then we'll cover what to do first if you do break down. Then we'll cover actually being towed.
If you have a motorhome and are towing a car(Toad), you must have a policy that covers both car and Motorhome. If you are in an accident, most likely both will be damaged. If you have policies with 2 insurance companies, you are looking at 2 deductibles and 2 claims. You are also liable if your car breaks loose from the motorhome and goes off on its own. Claims will be filed by drivers of other vehicles yours has hit, as well as property owners that have sustained damage caused by your errant car. These claims will most likely be against the liability portion of your RV insurance. Your motorhome insurance does not automatically extend to the car your are towing. This is why you should carry liability coverage on both your motorhome and towed vehicle.
There are other features you should look into as well. Does the policy pay for hotel stays while the RV is under repair? Policies change from company to company as well as in different states.
I know it's a lot to deal with, but you need to settle all this with your insurance agent before you take off on a trip. Not all insurance policies have this coverage. You may be forced to change insurance companies.
People who live in their RVs more than 150 days per year are apparently considered full-timers by many insurance companies. Full-time RVers will need to obtain a full-timers comprehensive personal liability policy . This policy will change the coverage to be similar to your home insurance. Anyone injured inside your can make a claim against you, and this type of coverage is designed to cover such claims. Many full-timers don't realize they need this coverage until their insurance claims are denied because their RV is their primary residence. Another benefit of this coverage is higher limits of insurance on the contents of your rig. You are living full-time and the rig is your home. All that "stuff" you have should be covered. Of course the policy premium depends on the size of the deductible you set up. We try to have a $500 emergency fund just to cover deductibles.
You should really consider some type of RV breakdown towing insurance. There are several companies that specialize in this. Among them, the best are Coach-Net (offered by several RV clubs), Good Sam (a part of the Affinity Group), and the American Automobile Association (AAA). Some automobile insurance companies purport to offer this type of coverage, but there isn't much data to support it.
This specialized type of insurance will cover having your rig towed in case of mechanical breakdown or becoming stuck in mud or soft ground. They will usually not cover towing in case of an accident. Your regular RV insurance takes care of that. You should compare the offerings of these companies to make sure they offer what you will need. You will want to ensure that if your truck breaks down and has to be towed, that the tow truck will then return and tow your trailer to a safe place. You must also make sure the towing company that the insurance company contacts for you has the proper equipment to safely tow your vehicle. Some policies limit the number of tows or the number of miles covered. This is very important as a 50 mile tow of a large motorhome can cost upwards of $800 or more.
None of these insurance companies actually own or operate tow trucks. They have agreements in place with tow companies all over the country. After they determine where you are, they usually contact the nearest towing company that has the equipment to handle your issue whether is is a tire change, battery jump, or actual tow.
Our friends Charles and Chris Yust are independent RV insurance agents who are also full-time RVers and understand our issues. Check them out at: http://www.candcrvinsurance.com
If you have a breakdown, the first thing is to get your rig off the road and in a safe place. I know this is very hard as you are nervous and wondering what will this cost, and how long will my vacation be delayed; but just take a deep breath and try to relax for a few minutes. That will help to clear your head for what comes next.
Get pen and paper and write down everything that happened. What noises did you hear? Did you smell anything out of the ordinary? How about warning lights and gauges? Write it all down because it can be quite important when discussing this with a service writer later on. Can you start the vehicle now? Any noises that shouldn't be there? Shut it down immediately if there are strange noises or warning lights.
The next thing to do is call for help. If you have RV breakdown towing insurance, call the emergency number the company has given to you. Be calm and answer the questions clearly. They will want to know exactly where you are. Highway number and milepost would be great. If you have GPS, give them the coordinates. They will hang up while they arrange a mobile service call for you. Then they will call you back with the name and sometimes the phone number of the tow company and how long it will be before they are to arrive. The better insurance companies will continue to contact you until either you are on the road again or are being towed to a repair facility. If the police or highway patrol stops by, so much the better. They know all the local towing companies and can perhaps expedite them to your location. Without towing insurance, calling 911 is your best bet.
If, after the tow truck operator arrives, and you are unhappy with them, call your insurance company. It is up to you to sign off on a tow. If you have a motorhome, especially a large one, there are certain things that the tow truck operator must do. First they must raise the front wheels off the ground. This is where the first problems can happen. If the tow truck does not have a way to lift the tires off the ground and tries to lift the frame, the front cap can be damaged and even torn off. Assuming he has the proper equipment, next the drive shaft must be disconnected and tied up so it doesn't drop to the roadway while towing. With a diesel pusher, the whole drive shaft will be removed. It is about 2 feet long. If your rig has air brakes, the tow operator must air up the air tanks before towing. If you have a rain guard or sweep behind the rear wheels, it must be tied up high enough so it doesn't drag when the front is lifted. The tow driver will also have to hook up turn and brake lights. Nowadays, these are wirelessly controlled from the tow truck. You will not be able to ride in your rig when it is being towed. If you do not have a dingy vehicle, occasionally you can ride in the tow truck. Check with the RV breakdown towing insurance company first about that. All this being said, one of our breakdowns occurred near Yosemite National Park. The tow driver arrived with a very large flat bed tow truck and proceeded to put our rig up on the flatbed. It all worked fine, but is was distressing to see our rig leaning in the hairpin turns and switchbacks on the way down and to a repair shop.
OK, you're underway, probably following your rig or waiting with your trailer for it to be picked up. You are on the way to a repair facility. The tow truck driver will not release your rig until the RV breakdown towing insurance company has paid the towing company. This can be an exasperating experience as you are put between the towing company and the insurance company. It has happened to us.
I'll pick this up again in another web page on getting your rig repaired. That can be another less that enjoyable experience. Think Extended Warranty.